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ArchivedStickied post

Reissuing this for newer subscribers so they can comment since the old beginners post was archived.

  • I thought it would be wise to help our newer members find what they are looking for. Old time radio has thousands of shows in many genres and when it's all new to you, sometimes it's hard to know where to begin. OTR shows are divided by genre just like modern shows. I'll list a few of the bigger shows in each genre to give you a starting point. Youtube is a nice starter source and there are many others listed in the sidebar.

The list is by no means compete, so feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments. And please, by all means, feel free to submit content! If you find a episode of a show you enjoyed, share it with us here.

COMEDY

  • The Jack Benny Program: Jack's self titled character is notorious for being cheap, stingy, a good natured egotist, who eternally declares his age as 39, and plays the violin rather badly. He is accompanied by his show host Don Wilson who is eternally joked on for being fat, His bandleader Phil Harris who is hysterically egotistical and and incorrigible lush. His dim witted singer Dennis Day, his gravel voiced butler/valet Rochester, and his female companion Mary Livingston Mel Blanc and Frank Nelson are frequent regulars in various roles.

  • Fibber McGee & Molly: Fibber is a fast talking schemer who, along with his lovable wife Molly have a daily suburban adventure involving a regular cast of loony neighbors. Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve the pompous next-door neighbor with whom Fibber enjoyed twitting and arguing, Old Timer a hard-of-hearing senior citizen with a penchant for distorting jokes, prefacing each one by saying, "That ain't the way I heared it!", Teeny, also known as "Little Girl" and "Sis" a precocious youngster who frequently banters with Fibber, Abigail Uppington- a snooty society matron, Mr Wimple - a hen-pecked husband, Dr. Gamble - a local physician, and Mayor LaTrivia - the mayor of Wistful Vista

  • Our Miss Brooks: A sitcom style show about a young, quick witted, sharp tongued lady high school schoolteacher and her daily misadventures with her supporting cast. Tyrannical school principal Mr Conklin, nerdy student suck up Walter Denton, her fellow teacher and obtuse love interest Mr Boynton, absent minded landlady Mrs Davis and young student leader Harriet Conklin.

  • Other shows to check out: The Phil Harris & Alice Faye Show, Burns and Allen, The Great Gildersleeve, The Bob Hope Show, Life With Luigi, Duffy's Tavern, Amos & Andy, Abbot & Costello, The Fred Allen Show, Father Knows Best, The Red Skelton Show, My Friend Irma

ADVENTURE

  • Escape: A stand alone series with different tales and adventures that usually involve some form of escape from a bad situation

  • Suspense A stand alone series of a variety of situations that build the tension over the course of the show until climaxing in an exciting finale.

  • Bold Venture: Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall star as a Caribbean tour boat owner and his love interest who are often involved in a variety of treasure hunting schemes, smugglers, thieves, and criminals on the run

  • The Adventures of Harry Lime: Orson Welles reprises his role of Harry Lime from the celebrated 1949 film The Third Man. The radio series is a prequel to the film, and depicts the many misadventures of incorrigible con-artist Harry Lime.

  • Other shows to check out: The Saint, The Adventures of Frank Race, The Chase, The Adventures of Rocky Jordan, Box 13, The Clock

COPS & ROBBERS

  • Dragnet: Follow straight talking Sgt. Joe Friday through this police procedural as he and his various partners investigate crimes throughout L.A.

  • Tales of the Texas Rangers: a western version of the police procedural.

  • Broadway Is My Beat Extremely hard boiled New York police investigator Detective Danny Clover solves crimes without ever cracking a smile.

  • Other shows to check out: The Black Museum, Casey: Crime Photographer, I Was A Communist For the FBI, Gangbusters, Calling All Cars

PRIVATE DETECTIVES

  • Philip Marlowe: Relatively straight laced.

  • Sam Spade: Somewhere between hard boiled and comedic.

  • Sherlock Holmes: It's Holmes, just as he should be.

  • Nero Wolfe: brilliant investigator who sends his lackey to do all the footwork because he himself is literally too fat and lazy to be bothered.

  • Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar: A hard edged insurance investigator who specializes in foiling the schemes of insurance frauds.

  • Other shows to check out: Richard Diamond, Philo Vance, Mystery Is My Hobby, Jeff Regan: Investigator, Nick Carter: Master Detective

CRIME

  • The Shadow: A rich playboy uses his highly trained skills and brilliant detective abilities to remain cloaked in shadow in order to terrify and fight criminals. (Sound familiar? Yeah, but the Shadow beat the Bat to the punch by a decade.) The shadow uses his mental powers to remain invisible and scare the bejeezus out of crime.

  • The Whistler: The Whistler is your narrator. He introduces you to a new person each episode who is about to commit a heinous crime. The Whistler sits back with you as you both watch the crime play out, him often telling you the criminal's thought processes. Right up until we all learn together that crime doesn't pay.

  • Pat Novak, For Hire: Not quite a PI or a cop, Pat Novak is a dour, smart mouthed problem solver who usually doesn't want to be involved but rarely has a choice in the matter.

  • Other shows to check out: Boston Blackie, Nightbeat

HORROR

  • Inner Sanctum Mysteries: Good scary stories with a host who delights in ghoulish puns and wisecracks.

  • Lights Out: One of the most respected and feared horror anthologies in radio.

  • Mysterious Traveler: Have a seat on this train to nowhere, and listen close as the mysterious traveler next to you spins you a tale to make you wet your pants.

  • Other shows to check out: Weird Circle, The Hermit's Cave, The Unexpected, Arch obler's plays, The Price of Fear, Quiet Please, Dark Fantasy

SCIENCE FICTION

  • Dimension X: a collection of sci-fi often written by the leading masters of the day including Isaac Asimov, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Fredric Brown, Robert A. Heinlein, Murray Leinster, H. Beam Piper, Frank M. Robinson, Clifford D. Simak, William Tenn, Jack Vance, Kurt Vonnegut, Donald A. Wollheim, Graham Doar, and Jack Williamson

  • X Minus One: Same as Dimension X Flash Gordon: serial broadcast about Earth's first interstellar hero.

  • Other shows to check out: Alien Worlds, Exploring Tomorrow, Space Patrol, 2000 Plus

WESTERNS

  • Gunsmoke: The adventures of US Marshal Matt Dillon and his not quite a deputy, Chester Proudfoot as they work to maintain law and order in the growing cow town of Dodge City, Kansas. The show was revolutionary for it's sound effects and often disturbingly violent and bleak scripts. the good guys don't always win in Gunsmoke.

  • The Lone Ranger: The tales of the masked crime fighter and his faithful indian companion, Tonto.

  • The Six Shooter: Jimmy Stewart as Brit Ponsett, a friendly, easy going, yet deadly with a gun, cowhand and his wanderings across the old west.

  • Other shows to check out: Have Gun Will Travel, The Cisco Kid, Hopalong Cassidy, Frontier Town, Challenge of the Yukon, Frontier Gentleman, Hawk Larabee

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I made a post a while back about Australian radio and noticed that not a lot of people have exposure to Australian OTR. So being bored I thought I'd share some interesting stories from Down Under. Starting with how one company decided to take on television and managed to remain relevant long after the traditional "golden era" of radio.

Grace Gibson Productions was founded in 1944 by, funnily enough, Grace Gibson - a woman who originally came to Australia to sell American shows to Australian radio stations. Eventually her company and several others led the fight to remove the American shows from Australian radio in favour of locally produced shows and succeeded.

By the 1960s, television was starting to take off in Australia in a big way. The various production houses of Australia took vastly different routes. Some, such as Donovan Joyce Productions, admitted defeat and simply closed their doors. Others, such as Crawford Productions, embraced television and eventually moved into this medium. Gibson's attempted to move into television, but upon being unsuccessful Grace instead insisted that radio drama could still be profitable. And for the most part she was right. With most of her competitors dropping out, Gibson's had pretty much free reign over the entire radio drama market in Australia. But by the late 1960s, Grace Gibson Productions would find their greatest challenge coming not from television but from radio itself, their own medium.

As television grew and more people turned to it for their dose of drama, radio too changed. Stations started dumping drama en masse in favour for music programming. Radio stations simply believed people would no longer tune in for 15 minutes at a time to listen intently to a story - and 15 minutes of a serial means 15 minutes where the station cannot advertise. Despite this, Gibson's managed to sell many new quarter hour shows but it was clear their days were numbered. That all changed in 1971 when Grace and lead scriptwriter Ross Napier devised the concept of 4 minute drama.

The logic was simple. Radio listeners and stations don't want long programmes but what if you could cram all the action of a quarter hour serial into 4 minute episodes? It worked remarkably well, owing to the fact Ross Napier had not only scripted for television but was possibly the undisputed master of radio scriptwriting in Australia. The list of new shows the company devised include:

I Killed Grace Random: the first 4 minute show which went to air in October 1971. It was an adaptation of The Billboard Madonna by Elleston Trevor. Having worked late on a road safety advertising campaign, copywriter Kurt Miller (Richard Meikle) runs over a girl. Kurt becomes captivated by her image, and turns her into the face of the new campaign but the guilt of killing her is slowly driving him insane. This show was accompanied by a real life campaign "Driving with Grace" and co-starred June Salter and Ron Haddrick.

My Father's House: After his father's death, Robbie Leyland (James Condon) discovers a substantial debt in his father's name. Desperate to recover this money or face losing the family property, Robbie disappears for close to 3 years and recovers the fortune by becoming a master criminal with the help of a mysterious associate (Fay Kelton). With the debt squared, Robbie marries his childhood sweetheart (Amber Mae Cecil), settles into Bannockburn and takes over his father's law firm. But his happy life is threatened when he finds children's author Hunter Oswald (Robert McDarra) is interested in Bannockburn, his wife, and above all may know just who Robbie is.

Without Shame: Judith Farrow (Wynne Nelson) arrives home early from church one Sunday morning and finds her husband in bed with her 15-year-old sister Belinda, who is spending the weekend with them. Judith walks out. The next day she consults a solicitor about a divorce. Later the same day she returns home to collect some of her belongings and is horrified to discover the naked bodies of her husband and sister on the bed where she last saw them – both stabbed to death. Judith is charged and found guilty of the crime. Whilst in jail, and after her ‘arranged’ release, she suffers the most degrading deprivations as she endeavours to prove that, whatever else, she is not a murderer.

The Priestman File: written in 1981, just after Nick Erby took over Gibson's from an aging Grace, this represents one of the more interesting radio concepts I have seen. Erby (under the pseudonym Bob Burne) wrote the 65 episode show in the form of a tape confessional told by two people (Kit Taylor and Faye Anderson). The story follows the fictional 1986 election campaign of Alexander Priestman (Noel Trevarthen), a man who would stop at nothing to become Prime Minister. Having seen him manipulate his way to being the most popular candidate, come election day there was only one way to stop him winning the election...

The Castlereagh Line: written and directed by Ross Napier, this is Grace Gibson's crowning glory. Loosely based on a novel called King Hit, it was a 910 episode epic produced in 65 episode blocks so that radio stations could opt out at any time. The story follows over 30 years of the lives of Lottie Long (Wynne Nelson), Jack Seager (Ric Hutton) and Mat Gore (Deryck Barnes) and of the stagecoach company that they form. Following the break up of her marriage to Seager, Lottie opens up a competing empire of hotels with the ever faithful Mrs Mac (Peg Christensen) and remains one step ahead of Jack thanks to her association with Jim Holly (Richard Meikle), a driver at the Castlereagh Coach Company. But as Lottie and Jack find out all's fair in love and war. The story was adapted by Napier into a series of hard to find books, and despite being made 25 years after television entered Australia, was one of the most popular shows Gibson's ever made. It is still usually found on a radio station in Australia somewhere owing to the captivating writing of Ross Napier and a catchy TV-style theme tune listing off places on Castlereagh's route sung by Australian country singer Johnny Ashcroft.

Hope you guys enjoy learning a bit about our rich radio history down under :)

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Is anyone familiar with any recordings of Early Edward Murrow recordings from the European News Roundup or any other broadcasts from around WWII?

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Hi all. I'm looking for an archive wherein I can download a lot of otr shows in one go. Is there a place where I can download by show or year? Ideally I would like to compile a big collection of otr that I can keep on a hard drive. Thanks for any info.

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You can find other pages for this series in the Internet Archive, but this one seems the most complete. Here's the wikipedia entry. From Digital Deli:

NBC thought the Thin Man) concept appealing enough to try it out over Radio for the Summer of 1941, the same period during which The Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) was released. Starring Les Damon and Claudia Morgan, the Summer run of 1941 was also produced and directed by Himan Brown and overseen by its creator, Dashiell Hammett...precious few examples of the run survive in circulation...We were therefore forced to rely almost entirely on contemporaneous newspaper articles, spot ads and Radio program listings to prepare our research for this article.

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is Sunday Supplement which first aired June 24, 1956. The exchange happens about thirteen minutes into the episode and only lasts a few seconds but it always makes me laugh.

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I sure would love to know more about this program.This was the pre-cursor to COPS.Airing back in 1954.Supposedly unscripted and w/ "real" people.I have my doubts though.But it is an interesting show for it's time.Has anyone heard any of these shows?

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Below are five from my notes and I'd certainly appreciate learning about any others incidentally floating around out there:

1. The first 34 seconds of this Gunsmoke episode are part of a WBT-AM news segment ("Serving Charlotte and The Carolinas") covering the Little Rock Crisis leading to a standoff with the federal government.

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2. The first 40 seconds of this The Whistler episode are captivated by a KTLA announcer explaining that it was the CBS network, and not any sponsor, responsible for the previous week's breaking away from the location of the Kathy Fiscus Tragedy.

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3. The first 30 seconds of this Dimension X episode describe the U.S. Army First Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division) leaving Japan, "the first set of American ground troops to be deployed in the Korean War."

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4. The first 30 seconds of this Dimension X episode note the start of the amphibious UN offensive during same.

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5. 1m20s into this Biographies In Sound episode, Kenneth Banghart reads the news , covering topics including a personal missive from Soviet Premier Marshal Bulganin to President Eisenhower and the courtship between Grace Kelly and the Prince of Monaco

Edit: Move comment content here. Edit: Added the 5th

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Though there are a lot of possible objections, it's mostly accepted that the last OTR broadcast was that of Suspense on 9/30/62 with "The Devilstone" (the last episode of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar "The Tip-Off Matter" playing a half-hour earlier that day).

BUT does anyone know — I don't — when the last full day of OTR content was broadcast? The last day when shows were played as "business as usual"?

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Sorry if this is the wrong place to ask this, if so, just say it and I will remove the post.

Years ago, I was watching something, someplace, and I just don't remember where it was. But there was a skit of George Burns, older of course, having a chance to call heaven, and gracie is the one answering the phone.

It ends really sweet with them saying goodbye and George happy to have talked to her again.

Does anyone know where this was or perhaps have a link to it? It's driving me crazy trying to remember it.

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The opening:

"Around Dodge City and in the territory on west, there's just one way to handle the killers and the spoilers and that's with a U.S. District Attorney and the smell of gumsmoke."

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Posted byu/[deleted]28 days ago
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Old Time Radio (OTR) refers to a period of radio programming lasting from the proliferation of radio broadcasting in the early 1920s until the rise of television broadcasting in the late 1950s. Adventure, comedy, drama, horror, mystery, romance, thrillers. Old Time Radio aims to recreate the spirit of that era by linking to the best of radio broadcasting both old and new.

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