The last years of the Golden Age of Radio were also the beginning years of the Cold War. Thanks to the improved broadcast technology developed during WWII and the growing sophistication of writers and producers, some of Radio’s best programming was developed during this time. Although a time of great prosperity in America, fears of Soviet atomic attack pervaded the culture. Were these two factors meet is a world we will call Atomic Radio. Fears of The Bomb were and are very real. Early in the Atomic Age the average American was still coming to grips with this fear, and Radio was helpfully in both relieving and intensifying the paranoia.
The Fifth Horseman was a short series of dramatized documentaries that began in the days immediately after the first post-war atomic tests at Bikini Atoll. The program did discuss some of the hopeful aspects of Atomic Power and Nuclear Medicine, but most of the program detailed the horrors of The Bomb and Atomic Combat. This is both prophetic and paranoid, as the series aired three years before the first Soviet Atomic tests.
Post war competition with the Soviets generated a Red Scare in the middle of the 20th century. This Scare is most fervently illustrated by the excesses of Sen. Joe McCarthy as well as the House Un-American Activities Committee. One of the many who would testify before the HUAC was Matt Cvetic, who spent nine years as an FBI informant buried deep in the hierarchy of the Communist Party of the United States. Cvetic’s story was dramatized in I Was a Communist for the F.B.I., played on the radio by Dana Andrews. A fine example of the Radio Noir sub-genre, the show always included Andrew’s tagline: “I walk alone.”