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Pectus
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65458 posts

Best radio dramas, past and present(?)
I really liked some classic radio dramas from back in the day.


I am curious if there is a bank of them that are free to listen to...or if there are podcasts nowadays that produce their own radio dramas?

TIA


Master of Sinanju
Member since Feb 2012
8062 posts

re: Best radio dramas, past and present(?)
Gunsmoke began as a radio drama and kicked ass.

Old time radio is available all over the internet. There are podcasts of everything. It's especially great to get them with the vintage ads.


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ipodking
LSU Fan
Ducking the BRAVE Team
Member since Jun 2008
45215 posts

re: Best radio dramas, past and present(?)
“Three Skeleton Key” is a favorite of mine narrated by Vincent Price

Stars on Suspense is a good podcast for Old Time radio shows.

Check out Relic Radio’s podcasts. They have a podcast for a bunch of different genres. Their horror and sci-fi ones are my favorites.


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Kafka
USA Fan
I am the moral conscience of TD
Member since Jul 2007
97239 posts

re: Best radio dramas, past and present(?)
USA Today article from a couple of years ago. For anyone interested in learning about Old Time radio it's not a bad place to start.

The web’s best kept secret? Free classic radio dramas
quote:

If you’re looking to fill up your smartphone, tablet or laptop with great content, there’s a lot more than just music, videos, ebooks, and games. Without costing a dime, there are many tens of thousands of “old time radio” shows – from the golden age of radio – available for streaming or downloading.

You might be asking yourself “Why would a future-looking technology journalist want to fill up his phone with radio dramas popularized in the ‘40s and ‘50s?” Yes, I see the irony. But you’d be pleasantly surprised at how entertaining these are – and they’ve kept me sane while commuting in a car or resting my eyes on a plane. Or, in many instances, I'm playing a game on my phone or tablet while listening to these shows at the same time.

These bite-sized old-time radio (“OTR”) shows are typically 20- to 40-minutes in length. We’re not talking audiobooks here, which are typically narrated by one person, but rather, these are well-acted radio plays, often with music and sound effects. Because you're using your imagination to "see" the characters, environments and actions, these shows feel wonderfully intimate and personal.


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Kafka
USA Fan
I am the moral conscience of TD
Member since Jul 2007
97239 posts

re: Best radio dramas, past and present(?)
quote:

I am curious if there is a bank of them that are free to listen to
Archive.org is the mother lode for free OTR


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Kafka
USA Fan
I am the moral conscience of TD
Member since Jul 2007
97239 posts

re: Best radio dramas, past and present(?)
Image: https://i.imgur.com/DhTVdLR.jpg width=501


Dimension X

Dimension X ran on NBC 1950-1. The show was later retooled as X Minus 1 in 1955-8. They dramatized stories from the pulp SF "golden age" of the 1940s by writers like Bradbury, Asimov, Heinlein etc.

While there are plenty of rocketmen and space travel stories, the most interesting episodes IMHO are those that prefigure the classic "The Twilight Zone" situation -- ordinary people caught up in fantastic situations. Stephen King once commented that Richard Matheson took horror out of the gothic mansion and let it happen anywhere, even the minimart down the street. That's what these shows helped do for SF -- although Twilight Zone would get the credit. I wonder how often Rod Serling listened to them.

Dimension X

Kaleidoscope - Bradbury

To The Future - Bradbury

Mars Is Heaven - Bradbury

Dwellers In Silence - Bradbury

Dr. Grimshaw's Sanitorium - I can't believe they got away with this ending in 1950.

X Minus 1

Image: https://i.imgur.com/4iSrIcw.jpg


Zero Hour - Bradbury (notice a pattern here?). The ending is a masterpiece.

The Last Martian - Fredric Brown. This was later filmed as an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents starring Steve McQueen. IMHO this radio version is superior.

Hostess - Asimov

Cold Equations

Venus Is A Man's World - not all that great an episode, but a fascinatingly prescient satire on feminism (from 1957!)

X Minus 1 also did two stories by a very young, little-known writer named Philip K Dick, "Colony" and "The Defenders". They're nothing special, although "The Defenders" is not a bad cold war allegory -- apparently a frequently-used device in SF of this period, at least judging by these two series.


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athenslife101
Georgia Fan
Athens
Member since Feb 2013
11710 posts

re: Best radio dramas, past and present(?)
Not a drama, but the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy radio production is so ridiculously good


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10
TheFonz
LSU Fan
Somewhere in Louisiana
Member since Jul 2016
9410 posts

re: Best radio dramas, past and present(?)
Old Time Radio Network

Old Radio World

This post was edited on 9/23 at 10:38 am


Slayer76
Member since Jun 2018
21 posts

re: Best radio dramas, past and present(?)
Try Johnny dollar. You will be hooked. Or try radio classics on Sirius. Phillip Marlowe is good also.


Kafka
USA Fan
I am the moral conscience of TD
Member since Jul 2007
97239 posts

re: Best radio dramas, past and present(?)
quote:

Phillip Marlowe is good also
DL Philip Marlowe episodes here

This series is probably the closest any medium ever came to the Marlowe of the novels. Even Raymond Chandler himself didn't completely hate it.

The highlights of the show -- in particular the early episodes -- are absolutely the opening and closing narrations. Some of them are classics. The great episode "Red Wind" opens with the famous description of L.A. nighttime taken directly from Chandlers story:

"There was a rough desert wind blowing into Los Angeles that evening. It was one of those hot, dry Santa Anna winds that comes down out of the mountain passes... On nights like that, every booze party ends in a fight, and meek little housewives finger the edge of a carving knife and study their husband's necks. Anything can happen when the Santa Anna blows in from the desert."

The plots are generally not so hot -- they invariably hinge on Marlowe spotting something which the audience can't see (obviously) and only explaining how he figured it out in the tag. But with only 30 minutes of show they clearly had to decide between Agatha Christie plotting and Chandler ambience. Fortunately they chose the latter.

The show is definitely a buried noir treasure. Maybe someday it will be rediscovered.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/7L99MRj.jpg



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Kafka
USA Fan
I am the moral conscience of TD
Member since Jul 2007
97239 posts

re: Best radio dramas, past and present(?)
Lucille Fletcher, the Queen of Radio Suspense:



She wrote what Orson Welles called "The greatest radio play ever written":

"Sorry, Wrong Number"

Agnes Moorehead doing "Sorry, Wrong Number":



A year earlier Fletcher had written an equally superb episode, "The Hitch Hiker", starring Orson Welles in a tour de force performance.

"The Hitch Hiker"

If the story sounds familiar it was later filmed for The Twilight Zone.

Fletcher also wrote a classic "spooky old house" chiller which unfortunately was never filmed. Too bad, as it seems to be crying out for visuals:

"Fugue in C Minor" -- starring Vincent Price


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Kafka
USA Fan
I am the moral conscience of TD
Member since Jul 2007
97239 posts

re: Best radio dramas, past and present(?)
7 part radio dramatization of Les Miserables done by Orson Welles in 1937.

Les Miserables (YT) -- listen online

Les Miserables (Internet Archive) -- free download

Wikipedia
quote:

Les Misérables is a seven-part radio series broadcast July 23 – September 3, 1937 (Fridays at 10 p.m. ET), on the Mutual Network. Orson Welles adapted Victor Hugo's novel, directed the series and starred as Jean Valjean. The 22-year-old Welles developed the idea of telling stories with first-person narration on the series, which was his first job as a writer-director for radio.

Marking the radio debut of the Mercury Theatre, Welles's Les Misérables was described by biographer Simon Callow as "one of his earliest, finest and most serious achievements on radio".

The production costarred Martin Gabel as Javert, Alice Frost as Fantine, and Virginia Nicolson, Welles's first wife, as the adult Cosette. The supporting cast included Ray Collins*, Agnes Moorehead*, Everett Sloane*, Betty Garde, Hiram Sherman, Frank Readick, Richard Widmark, Richard Wilson* and William Alland*.
*Later worked with Welles on Citizen Kane

22 year old Orson Welles at the time of Les Miserables.



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Tiger inTampa
LSU Fan
Tampa, FL
Member since Sep 2009
1862 posts

re: Best radio dramas, past and present(?)
quote:

Johnny dollar


"Your's truly..Johnny Dollar"! Love when he would do his expense wrap up at the end of every episode.

Also like The Shadow, Our Miss Brooks, and The Rancheros.

The SXFM Radio Classics channel is fantastic and worth my subscription alone.

Oh, as for current or at least contemporary (early 2000s) Try Underwood and Flinch. Its a podcast but done in Classic Radio show style.
This post was edited on 11/28 at 6:16 am


ipodking
LSU Fan
Ducking the BRAVE Team
Member since Jun 2008
45215 posts

re: Best radio dramas, past and present(?)
Since we are nearing Christmas here is one of my all time faves:



LINK


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10
Kafka
USA Fan
I am the moral conscience of TD
Member since Jul 2007
97239 posts

re: Best radio dramas, past and present(?)


ipodking
LSU Fan
Ducking the BRAVE Team
Member since Jun 2008
45215 posts

re: Best radio dramas, past and present(?)
What are some Christmas programs we should check out, Kafka?


Kafka
USA Fan
I am the moral conscience of TD
Member since Jul 2007
97239 posts

re: Best radio dramas, past and present(?)
quote:

What are some Christmas programs we should check out
A classic Christmas episode from the short-lived 1953 series The Six Shooter starring Jimmy Stewart. I can't recall ever hearing this premise used in a western.








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Fewer Kilometers
LA-Lafayette Fan
Baton Rouge
Member since Dec 2007
22009 posts

re: Best radio dramas, past and present(?)
There was a time when they would perform radio versions of then current films. I heard an awesome performance of Here Comes Mr. Jordan (the film that Warren Beatty’s Heaven Can Wait was based on).

The film’s star Robert Montgomery couldn’t play his role so they brought in Cary Grant. Man, it was better than the film.

The script was originally bought for Grant but they had replaced him with Montgomery.


WMTigerFAN
New Orleans Saints Fan
West Monroe
Member since Feb 2005
2496 posts

re: Best radio dramas, past and present(?)
"Escape" was a popular 30 minute radio drama and I'm especially fond of 3 episodes -
"A Shipment of Mute Fate", about a deadly viper that gets loose on a ship
LINK

The Country of the Blind",
LINK an adventurer who stumbles upon a jungle tribe who are all blind,


And "Leinengen vs the Ants", about a carribean plantation owner trying to save his spread from a hoard of invading army ants.
LINK

Sirius Radio Classics have aired all three and you can find them online as well. Some of these episodes were remade by other series (Suspense) and also have television versions as well.
This post was edited on 12/7 at 6:26 pm


Kafka
USA Fan
I am the moral conscience of TD
Member since Jul 2007
97239 posts

re: Best radio dramas, past and present(?)
quote:

And "Leinengen vs the Ants", about a carribean plantation owner trying to save his spread from a hoard of invading army ants.
Memorably filmed w/ Charlton Heston as The Naked Jungle


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