The new year of 1934 began with the shrieks, screams and chills of the “Almost Midnight” radio program. Originally airing as a 15-minute weekly series on local NBC station WENR, the show gained popularity with listeners enthralled by the realistic sounds and eerie details. By April of the same year, the series was expanded to a half-hour; however, broadcasting of the program ended temporarily in January 1935, when creator/writer Wyllis Cooper (of Quiet Please fame) was reassigned by NBC. The hiatus lasted only a few weeks, because the pressure mounted by loyal fans forced its return to the airwaves.
Wyllis Cooper returned to the series in April 1935, when NBC decided to air the program nationally. In June 1936, program scripts began to diverge from the original gruesome Cooper scripts when Arch Obler was hired to replace Cooper. Fearing the initial Cooper scripts were too intense and frightening for a nationwide audience, radio executives demanded less explicit stories. Obler began creating scripts that focused on ghosts and the supernatural, instead of the blood, gore and torture common to the Cooper scripts. It was during this time that the show became known as, Lights Out.
In 1939, NBC cancelled the program, but it was later picked up by CBS in 1942, where it broadcast until 1943. Lights Out continued to enjoy success in a series of short revivals that aired throughout the 1940’s. Debuting as a television series in 1946, the show continued to air until 1959. Unfortunately, most of the Cooper recordings did not survive over the years, but his scripts were rebroadcast on several occasions.
Enjoy this 1938 broadcast of Lights Out, titled Oxychloride: