Gang Busters was an American dramatic radio program proclaimed as “the only national program that brings you authentic police case histories.” Sponsored by Chevrolet, It originally premiered on July 20th 1935 as the G-Men.
Being one of the most prolific categories during The Golden Age of Radio, the airwaves were stuffed full with detective, police and suspense stories – shows about licensed (and unlicensed) “private eyes”, insurance investigators, police detectives, amateur sleuths from little known characters such as Philo Vance to giant detective legends such as Sherlock Holmes.
The Crime & Suspense Channel from the ROK Classic Radio OTR Network brings you 24/7 exciting capers, adventures and frights spanning nearly 80 years of radio history. So crank up your radio, find your magnifying glass, don your sleuth’s hat because it’s time to enter the radio underworld of crime, dastardly deeds and spine tingling suspense.
The Crime & Suspense Channel is now scheduled so you now can always catch your favourite crime show! Crime & Suspense Channel – Program Guide
Here are a few classics not to miss on the Crime & Suspense Channel!
Murder at Midnight was an old-time radio show featuring macabre tales of suspense, often with a supernatural twist. It was produced in New York and was syndicated beginning in 1946. The show’s writers included Robert Newman, Joseph Ruscoll, Max Ehrlich and William Norwood, and it was directed by Anton M. Leder. The host was Raymond Morgan, who delivered the memorable lines of introduction over Charles Paul’s effective organ theme: “Midnight, the witching hour when the night is darkest, our fears the strongest, and our strength at its lowest ebb. Midnight, when the graves gape open and death strikes.”
A total of 50 episodes were produced. Ten shows were syndicated and rerun on Mutual in 1950.
Murder at Midnight – The Man Who Was Death
Murder at Midnight – The Man_Who_Was_Death
The Dragnet radio show was a police action series that ran for 382 episodes over 7 1/2 years from
June 3, 1949 to February 26, 1957 on the NBC radio network! It was the first police series that detailed every single step involved in police work. The street cops would often discover a crime, then the detectives would investigate and gather evidence. The questioning of witnesses and suspects was typically included. The show even went so far as to show the mundane tasks involved in police work like filling out paperwork.
For the first time, the audience got a feel for what a real cops job was like, not the glorified hollywood version. And yet, the stories were intense and definitely held the interest of the audience. The show’s creator, director and main star, Jack Webb, insisted on realism and accuracy in portraying the cops and detectives in the series. Episodes were based on real cases from the Los Angeles Police Department’s files. Dragnet also broke some (at the time) taboos by occasionally depicting sexual crimes and episodes where children were murdered.
Dragnet (1949-08-11) Episode 10 – Homicide
Broadway Is My Beat, a radio crime drama, ran on CBS beginning with the July 7, 1949 episode, the series was broadcast from Hollywood with producer Elliott Lewis directing a new cast in scripts by Morton S. Fine and David Friedkin. The opening theme of “I’ll Take Manhattan” introduced Detective Danny Clover, a hardened New York City cop who worked homicide “from Times Square to Columbus Circle — the gaudiest, the most violent, the lonesomest mile in the world.”
Danny Clover narrated the tales of the Great White Way to the accompaniment of music by Wilbur Hatch and Alexander Courage, and the recreation of Manhattan’s aural tapestry required the talents of three sound effects technicians (David Light, Ralph Cummings, Ross Murray). Bill Anders was the show’s announcer, as was Joe Walters. The supporting cast included regulars Charles Calvert (as Sgt. Gino Tartaglia) and Jack Kruschen (as Sgt. Muggavan), with episodic roles filled by such radio actors as Irene Tedrow, Barney Phillips, Lamont Johnson, Herb Ellis, Hy Averback, Edgar Barrier, Betty Lou Gerson, Harry Bartell, Sheldon Leonard, Martha Wentworth, Lawrence Dobkin and Mary Jane Croft.
Broadway is My Beat – The Tommy Mannon Case (1949.11.12)
The Crime & Suspense Channels Shows include:-
* Abbott Mysteries
* Adventures of Bill Lance, The
* Adventures of Christopher Wells, The
* Adventures of Christopher London, The
* Adventures of Father Brown, The
* Affairs of Anne Scotland, The
* Affairs of Peter Salem, The
* Alias Jimmy Valentine
* Amazing Mr Smith, The
* Avenger, The
* Barrie Craig
* Big Guy
* Blackstone, The Magic Detective
* Blue Beetle
* Boston Blackie
* Bulldog Drummond
* Candy Matson
* Case Book of Gregory Hood
* Casey, Crime Photographer
* Charlie Chan
* Charlie Wild, Private Detective
* Chick Carter, Boy Detective
* Crime & Peter Chambers
* Crime Files of Flamond
* Danger With Granger
* Danger, Dr Danfield
* David Harding, Counterspy
* Dick Tracy
* Ellery Queen
* Falcon, The
* Fat Man, The
* Frank Race
* Green Hornet, The
* Hannibal Cobb
* Harry Lime (The Third Man)
* Hearthstone of the Death Squad
* Helen Holden, Govermental Girl
* Hercule Poirot
* Inspector Thorne of Homicide
* It’s A Crime, Mr. Collins
* Jeff Regan, Investigator
* Johnny Dollar
* Johnny Fletcher
* Johnny Madero, Pier 23
* Johnny Nighthawk
* Leonidas Witheral
* Let George Do It
* Mark Sabre of Homicide
* Martin Kane. Private Detective
* Matthew Slade, Private Eye
* Michael Shayne, Private Detective
* Mike Malloy, Private Eye
* Mr. and Mrs. North
* Mr. Chameleon
* Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons
* Mr. Malone
* Mr. Moto
* Nero Wolfe
* Nick Carter, Master Detective
* Pat Novak For Hire
* Paul Temple
* Perry Mason
* Pete Kelly
* Peter Chambers
* Philip Marlowe
* Philo Vance
* Rex Saunders
* Richard Diamond
* Rocky Fortune
* Rocky Jordan
* Roger Kilgore, Public Defender
* Rogue’s Gallery
* Saint, The
* Sam Spade
* Sgt. Preston
* Shadow, The
* Sherlock Holmes
* That Hammer Guy
* Thin Man, The
* Whisperer, The
* 21st Precinct
* Are these our Children?
* Big Story
* Big Town
* Bishop and The Gargoyle, The
* Black Hood, The
* Black Museum, The
* Box 13
* Broadway is my Beat
* Call The Police
* Calling All Cars
* Calling All Detectives
* Crime Club
* Crime Doctor
* Crime Does Not Pay
* Crime Fighters
* Deadline Mystery
* Defense Attorney
* Eno Crime Club
* FBI in Peace and War
* Federal Agent
* Five Mysteries Program, The
* For the Defense
* Front Page, The
* Highway Patrol
* Hollywood Mystery Time
* Hot Copy
* I Deal in Crime
* I Love A Mystery
* Lineup, The
* Mr. District Attorney
* Murder by Experts
* Official Detective
* Police Blotter
* Police HQ
* Queen’s Men
* Squad Room
* Tales of the Texas Rangers
* This Is Your FBI
* Treasury Agent
* True Detective Mysteries
* Under Arrest
Boston Blackie is a fictional character created by author Jack Boyle (born before 1880; died circa 1928). Originally a jewel thief and safecracker in Boyle’s novels, he became a detective in adaptations for films, radio and television—an “enemy to those who make him an enemy, friend to those who have no friend.”
Jack Boyle’s stories first appeared in the early 20th Century. “The Price of Principle” was a short story in the July 1914 issue of The American Magazine. Boyle’s character also turned up in Cosmopolitan. In 1917, Redbook published the novelette “Boston Blackie’s Mary,” and the magazine brought the character back with “The Heart of the Lily” (February, 1921). Boyle’s stories were collected in the book Boston Blackie (1919), which was reprinted in 1979 by Gregg Press. Boyle died in 1928.
The Boston Blackie radio series began June 23, 1944, on NBC as a summer replacement for Amos ‘n’ Andy.
Sponsored by Rinso, the series continued until September 15 of that year. Unlike the concurrent films, Blackie had a steady romantic interest in the radio show: Lesley Woods appeared as Blackie’s girlfriend Mary Wesley. Harlow Wilcox was the show’s announcer.
On April 11, 1945, Richard Kollmar portrayed Blackie in a radio series syndicated by Frederick Ziv to Mutual and other network outlets. Over 200 episodes of this series were produced between 1944 and October 25, 1950. Other sponsors included Lifebuoy Soap, Champagne Velvet beer and R&H beer. While investigating mysteries, Blackie invaribly encountered harebrained Police Inspector Farraday (Maurice Tarplin) and always solved the mystery to Farraday’s amazement.
Initially, friction surfaced in the relationship between Blackie and Farraday, but as the series continued, Farraday recognized Blackie’s talents and requested assistance. Blackie dated Mary Wesley (Jan Miner), and for the first half of the series, his best pal Shorty was always on hand. The humorless Farraday was on the receiving end of Blackie’s bad puns and word play.
You can listen to the adventures of Boston Blackie on the Crime, Suspense & Horror Channel from the ROK Classic Radio Old Time Radio Network. Happy Listening 🙂
The Falcon radio series premiered on the Blue Network on April 10, 1943, continuing on NBC and Mutual until November 27, 1954. Some 70 episodes were produced.
“Drexel Drake” (a pseudonym of Charles H. Huff) created Michael Waring, alias the Falcon, a free-lance investigator and troubleshooter, in his 1936 novel, The Falcon’s Prey. It was followed by two more novels (The Falcon Cuts In, 1937 and The Falcon Meets a Lady, 1938) and a 1938 short story. In 1941, RKO made a movie, The Gay Falcon, based on a 1940 short story, “Gay Falcon,” by Michael Arlen, rechristening Arlen’s Gay Stanhope Falcon as Gay Lawrence aka the Falcon. It became a film series, and its popularity led eventually to the radio series.
No explanation for the nickname was ever mentioned in any of the dramatizations. The Michael Waring Falcon was also the hero in three late 1940s movies starring John Calvert, and a television series starring Charles McGraw.
The Adventures of the Falcon was based and produced in New York, which allowed the crème de la crème of its radio talent to frequently perform on the program; among the actors heard in support: Mandel Kramer (as Sgt. Johnny Gleason), Ken Lynch (Sgt. Corbett), Joan Banks, Robert Dryden, Elspeth Eric, John Gibson and Everett Sloane.
The radio plots mixed danger, romance and comedy in equal parts. Each show began with a telephone ringing and Michael Waring, the Falcon, answering the phone. Speaking with a woman whose voice was never heard, Waring would explain that he had an urgent situation in which he had to deal with criminals. This led into the standard opening, followed by the week’s tale of adventure. Often, incompetent police were unable to solve the mysteries without his help.
The sponsors (Gem Razor Blades and Kraft Foods – Miracle Whip) certainly made their presence felt throughout the pre 1952 series with perhaps the most innovative and possible annoying being announcer Ed Herlihy when he plugged Miracle Whip in a string of episode.
Actors who portrayed the Falcon on radio: Berry Kroeger (1943), James Meighan (1945–47),Les Tremayne (late 1940s), Les Damon (early 1950s) and George Petrie.
Ed Herlihy and Jack Costello were the announcers.
The Falcon can be heard of the Sci-fi & Superheroes Channel on the ROK Classic Radio OTR Network!
The original Dragnet started as a radio show in June 1949 and later transfered to television. A total of 314 original episodes were broadcast from 1949 through 1957. The series was broadcast on NBC and starred Jack Webb and Barton Yarborough as Friday’s first partner Sergeant Ben Romero.
The show takes its name from an actual police term, a “dragnet”, meaning a system of coordinated measures for apprehending criminals or suspects.
Dragnet was perhaps the most famous and influential police procedural drama in media history. The series gave millions of audience members a feel for the boredom and drudgery, as well as the danger and heroism, of real-life police work. Dragnet earned praise for improving the public opinion of police officers.
Actor and producer Jack Webb’s aims in Dragnet were for realism and unpretentious acting. He achieved both goals, and Dragnet remains a key influence on subsequent police dramas in many media. The show’s cultural impact is such that even after five decades, elements of Dragnet are known to those who have never seen or heard the program.
Dragnet debuted inauspiciously. The first several months were bumpy, as Webb and company worked out the program’s format and eventually became comfortable with their characters (Friday was originally portrayed as more brash and forceful than his later usually relaxed demeanor). Gradually, Friday’s deadpan, fast-talking persona emerged, described by John Dunning as “a cop’s cop, tough but not hard, conservative but caring.” (Dunning, 210) Friday’s first partner was Sergeant Ben Romero, portrayed by Barton Yarborough, a longtime radio actor.
Raymond Burr was on board to play Chief of Detectives Ed Backstrand. When Dragnet hit its stride, it became one of radio’s top-rated shows.
Webb insisted on realism in every aspect of the show. The dialogue was clipped, understated and sparse, influenced by the hard-boiled school of crime fiction. Scripts were fast moving but didn’t seem rushed. Every aspect of police work was chronicled, step by step: From patrols and paperwork, to crime scene investigation, lab work and questioning witnesses or suspects.
The detectives’ personal lives were mentioned but rarely took center stage. (Friday was a bachelor who lived with his mother; Romero was a Mexican-American from Texas, was an ever-fretful husband and father.) “Underplaying is still acting”, Webb told Time. “We try to make it as real as a guy pouring a cup of coffee.” (Dunning, 209) Los Angeles police chiefs C.B. Horrall, William Worton, and (later) William Parker were credited as consultants, and many police officers were fans.
Though rather tame by modern standards, Dragnet—especially on the radio—handled controversial subjects such as sex crimes and drug addiction with unprecedented and even startling realism. In one such example, Dragnet broke one of the unspoken (and still rarely broached) taboos of popular entertainment in the episode “.22 Rifle for Christmas” which aired December 22, 1949 and was repeated a year later. The episode followed the search for two young boys, Stanley Johnstone and Stevie Morheim, only to discover Stevie had been accidentally killed while playing with a rifle that belonged to Stanley—who’d be receiving it as a Christmas present but opened the box early; Stanley finally told Friday that Stevie was running while holding the rifle when he tripped and fell, causing the gun to discharge, fatally wounding Morheim.
Jack Webb died at the age of 62 of a massive heart attack. He was buried with full honors by the LAPD, even though he had never been on the force.
Listen out for Dragnet on the Crime and Suspense Channel from ROK Classic Radio OTR.
You can also download a couple of episodes in the download section of our website!
Happy Listening 🙂
Opening in 1875, the Crime Museum at Scotland Yard is the oldest museum in the world purely for recording crime. The name “Black Museum” was coined in 1877 by a reporter from “The Observer”, a London newspaper, although the museum is still referred to as the Crime Museum. It is this museum that inspired The Black Museum radio series, produced in London by Harry Alan Towers.
From Jay Hickerson’s “The Ultimate History of Network Radio Programming and Guide To All Circulating Shows”, the earliest US broadcast date was January 1, 1952. Thirty nine shows, from the full syndication of fifty two shows, aired over Mutual stations from January 1, 1952 through June 24, 1952 and September 30, 1952 through December 30, 1952.
This may be the earliest broadcast of the series worldwide. It was later broadcast over Radio Luxembourg starting May 7, 1953. Radio Luxembourg broadcast sponsored programs at night to England (the BBC was state-owned and had no commercials). The shows were sponsored by Dreft and Mirro (cleaning products).
The series continued to be offered in syndication and was heard on AFRTS broadcasts and in the US on NPR stations through the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s. Some shows were broadcast by the BBC in England in 1994.
This murder mystery series was based on true life cases from Scotland Yard’s files. Each episode was based on an item or items of evidence in the museum.
Orson Welles hosted and narrated the shows. Mr. Welles opened each show slightly differently but followed a standard format. For example, the show, “The Bathtub”, open as follows:
“This is Orson Welles speaking from London.” (Big Ben starts himing in the background). “The Black Museum, repository of death… Here, in this grim stone structure on the Thames which houses Scotland Yard, is a warehouse of homocide, where everyday objects, a piece of wire, a chemist’s flask, a silver shilling, all are touched by murder.” (dramatic music)
Following the opening, Mr. Welles would introduce the museum’s item or items of evidence that was central to the case, leading into the dramatization. He also provided narration during the show and ended each show with his characteristic closing from the days of his Mercury Theater of the Air, remaining “obediently yours”.
Harry Alan Towers produced the series from scripts written by Ira Marion. Music was composed and conducted by Sidney Torch.
The museum was not open to the general public. It’s purpose was then, and still is, for police training, although it did receive a considerable number of famous people, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is currently used as a lecture theater for the police and like bodies in various subjects of Criminology. But, thanks to Mr. Towers and Mr. Welles, we can still get a glimpse of what secrets are housed in The Black Museum.
Listen to The Black Museum of ROK Classic Radio OTR!
(From the Old Time Radio Researcher’s Group)