Although primarily known for their work in Musicals and Soap Operas, Frank and Anne Hummert had a degree of success with Detective/Mystery radio programs. The mystery shows had many of the elements that the couple used in their Soap Opera Factory. Indeed the shows were often criticized by hard-core mystery fans for being overly melodramatic, but they were and are entertaining, and some enjoyed long term commercial success.
Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons first broadcast over the Blue Network on Oct 12, 1937. Through the years the program would change networks (but usually remaining on CBS), sponsors, timeslots, and even formats; originally a 30 minute weekly, late in the run it became a 15 minute nightly broadcast. Very few recordings of the original 1690 nationwide broadcasts are known to exist. For that reason it is happy news that Old Time Radio has recently added to the episodes in their collection.
For nearly 20 years Mr. Keen, described as a “kind, elderly, boring sleuth” fought crime along with his assistant, Mike Clancy. Clancy carries much of the Immigrant stereotyping (“Saints preserve us, Mr. Keen!”) that was so prevalent in Vaudeville and the early days of radio. Keen’s private detective agency had little animosity with Official Law Enforcement (“We usually work with the Police, Ma’am.”) that is common with later Private Eyes. Early in the run the “Missing Persons” part of the show was somewhat forgotten, and most of Mr. Keen’s cases revolved around murder. Audiences didn’t seem to mind; The program lasted until Apr 19, 1955.
Enjoy this episode from June 1950 “The Quicksand Murder Case”: