Why Didn’t Batman Have His Own Radio Show?

Who is the Greatest Superhero will be discussed and argued in computer labs, comic book stores, college cafeterias and Starbucks WiFi hotspots for decades to come. Whether Superman’s super strength is a match for Wolverine’s indestructible adamantium skeleton or if  DC’s Justice League of America is a match for Marvel’s The X-Men are interesting questions. There is little denying, however, that among the subset of Superheroes without “powers”, the “Costumed Crime Fighters”, few can begin to touch Batman.

The Golden Age of Comic Books, beginning with the debut of Superman in Action Comics #1 in 1938 began after the Golden Age of Radio (beginning in the late 20’s). Both Golden Ages came to an end at about the same time in the late 1950’s, largely due to the increasing dominance of TV, although the reasons for the decline of each may be for different reasons. Radio’s decline had more to do with sponsorship abandoning the medium than the medium itself lagging behind. In the case of Superhero Comics, the Cape and Spandex crowd itself seems to have lost favor.

Batman was created in 1939 by DC Comics artist Bob Kane. DC had put out a call to repeat the success they had with Superman, who debuted in Action Comic #1. Kane was inspired by ornithopter drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci and by the fact that bats are just plain frightening; he wanted his hero to strike fear in criminals. Another influence was the Mark of Zorro swashbuckler starring Douglas Fairbanks Sr. Like Batman’s alter ego, Zorro was a rich and somewhat ineffectual dandy during the day, but at night he would don a mask and become a vigilante thwarting evil-doers. (Zorro also had a great black horse hidden in a cave under his home, the inspiration for the Batcave and Batmobile.)

Superman caught the imagination of America from his premier in Action Comics #1 in June 1938. There was a syndicated attempt to put the Man of Steel on the radio in 1938-39, but he found a permanent home on the Mutual Network in Feb 1940.

There was development work and scripts written for a Batman radio program beginning in 1943, but only the premier episode script survives. Significant to the Batman universe back-story is that the script called for Dick Grayson’s (secret identity of Robin, Batman’s long time side-kick) parents, who were FBI Agents, to be killed by Nazi spies rather than by gangsters as occurred in print.

Batman and Robin appeared several times over the years on Superman. In the first story arc the Dynamic Duo appeared in, during Sept 1945, Lois Lane is accused of murder and Batman has to clear her. In December Clark Kent goes to Bruce Wayne’s Manor to seek Batman’s help, Shocking the Caped Crusader that his identity has been discovered! In Jan of ’46 Superman is trapped by a Bad Guy with Kryptonite and Batman has to save him. Later that month it appears that Superman’s double is robbing banks, and only Batman can straighten things out. “The Story of the Century” takes place in the spring of ’46, and again Clark nad Lois need Batman’s help. By the summer of ’46 Clark Kent is in danger of being exposed as Superman, but Batman helps to keep the secret. During the fall of ’46, during “The Mystery of the Dead Voice” story arc Dick Grayson/Robin’s origin story is re-explored. By winter Superman’s identity is in danger again but Batman helps. In February Superman and Batman work together to solve “The Case of the Monkey Burglar”.  In late spring Batman and Superman join forces again against “Big George” Lattimer who is out to kill the Man of Steel. The adventure continues into the summer as a Nazi Brain surgeon has Superman in his power. December opens with Batman’s help in the “Pennies For Plunder” adventure. Batman disappears during “Batman’s Great Mystery” but we find out that he is trying to help starving people in Europe, first half of Feb, 1948. In March Superman’s costume is stolen and Batman has to help again. Batman shows up between the “Crossword Puzzle Mystery” and the “Ghost Brigade” story arcs on May 3, ’48. He and Robin return for “The Secret of Meteor Island” in June, and in July for “the Voice of Doom”. Batman’s last appearance on the Superman radio show is on Christmas Eve, 1948, to help protect the Man of Steel’s identity one last time.

In 1950 an audition program was recorded, The Batman Mystery Club. Although Batman and Robin were featured in the program, it had little to do with the characters fans had come to know, and was never broadcast.  This broadcast can be heard in the Adventure Detectives Rarities Collection from OTRCAT.com

BBC Radio presented Batman: The Lazarus Syndrome in 1989 as part of the Caped Crusader’s 50th anniversary. Batman: Knightfall was a sequel in 1994, presented as three minute clips on the Mark Goodier Show.

Batman did make appearances in the following Superman episodes:

Superman. September 10, 1945. Program #791
Superman. September 11, 1945. Program #792. 
Superman. September 12, 1945. Program #793. 
Superman. September 14, 1945. Program #795
Superman. September 19, 1945. Program #798. 
Superman. September 20, 1945. Program #799. 
Superman. December 6, 1945. Program #854. 
Superman. December 7, 1945. Program #855. 
Superman. December 10, 1945.Program #856 
Superman. December 11, 1945.Program #857 
Superman. December 12, 1945. Program #858
Superman. December 14, 1945. Program #860.  
Superman. December 18, 1945. Program #862. 
Superman. December 19, 1945. Program #863. 
Superman. December 25, 1945. Program #867. 
Superman. January 2, 1946. 
Superman. January 3, 1946. Program #874. 
Superman. January 4, 1946. Program #875. 
Superman. January 7, 1946. Program #876. 
Superman. January 8, 1946. Program #877. 
Superman. January 29, 1946. Program #892. 
Superman. January 30, 1946. Program #893. 
Superman. January 31, 1946. Program #894. 
Superman. February 1, 1946. Program #895. 
Superman. February 4, 1946. Program #896. 
Superman. February 5, 1946. Program #897
Superman. February 6, 1946. Program #898. 
Superman. February 7, 1946. Program #899. 
Superman. February 8, 1946. Program #900. 
Superman. February 12, 1946. Program #902. 
Superman. February 14, 1946. Program #904.
Superman. April 5, 1946. Program #940. 
Superman. April 8, 1946. Program #941.
Superman. April 12, 1946. Program #945. 
Superman. April 15, 1946. Program #946. 
Superman. July 26, 1946. Program #1020. 
Superman. July 29, 1946. Program #1021. 
Superman. July 30, 1946. Program #1022. 
Superman. September 25, 1946. Program #1063. 
Superman. September 26, 1946. Program #1064. 
Superman. October 4, 1946. Program #1070.
Superman. October 7, 1946. Program #1071. 
Superman. October 8, 1946. Program #1072. 
Superman. October 9, 1946. Program #1073. 
Superman. October 10, 1946. Program #1074. 
Superman. October 11, 1946. Program #1075.
Superman. October 14, 1946. Program #1076. 
Superman. October 15, 1946. Program #1077. 
Superman. November 29, 1946. Program #1110. 
Superman. December 2, 1946. Program #1111. 
Superman. December 3, 1946. Program #1112. 
Superman. December 5, 1946. Program #1114. 
Superman. February 12, 1947. Program #1163. 
Superman. February 14, 1947. Program #1165. 
Superman. February 18, 1947. Program #1167. 
Superman. February 19, 1947. Program #1168. 
Superman. February 20, 1947. Program #1169. 
Superman. February 21, 1947. Program #1170. 
Superman. February 24, 1947. Program #1171. 
Superman. February 25, 1947. Program #1172. 
Superman. May 15, 1947. Program #1229. 
Superman. May 19, 1947. Program #1231. 
Superman. May 19, 1947. Program #1231. 
Superman. May 20, 1947. Program #1232. 
Superman. May 21, 1947. Program #1233. 
Superman. May 22, 1947. Program #1234. 
Superman. May 23, 1947. Program #1235. 
Superman. May 26, 1947. Program #1236. 
Superman. May 27, 1947. Program #1237. 
Superman. May 28, 1947. Program #1238.
Superman. May 29, 1947. Program #1239. 
Superman. May 30, 1947. Program #1240. 
Superman. June 2, 1947. Program #1241.
Superman. June 3, 1947. Program #1242. 
Superman. June 19, 1947. Program #1254. 
Superman. June 20, 1947. Program #1255. 
Superman. June 23, 1947. Program #1256.
Superman. June 24, 1947. Program #1257. 
Superman. June 25, 1947. Program #1258. 
Superman. June 26, 1947. Program #1259.
Superman. December 1, 1947. Program #1306. 
Superman. December 2, 1947. Program #1307. 
Superman. December 3, 1947. Program #1308. 
Superman. December 4, 1947. Program #1309. 
Superman. December 8, 1947. Program #1311. 
Superman. February 3, 1948. Program #1352. 
Superman. February 4, 1948. Program #1353.
Superman. February 5, 1948. Program #1354.
Superman. February 6, 1948. Program #1355. 
Superman. February 9, 1948. Program #1356. 
Superman. February 10, 1948. Program #1357. 
Superman. February 11, 1948. Program #1358. 
Superman. February 12, 1948. Program #1359. 
Superman. February 13, 1948. Program #1360. 
Superman. February 16, 1948. Program #1361. 
Superman. February 17, 1948. Program #1362. 
Superman. March 10, 1948. Program #1378. 
Superman. March 11, 1948. Program #1379. 
Superman. March 18, 1948. Program #1384. 
Superman. March 19, 1948. Program #1385. 
Superman. March 22, 1948. Program #1386. 
Superman. March 25, 1948. Program #1389.
Superman. March 26, 1948. Program #1390. 
Superman. March 29, 1948. Program #1391. 
Superman. March 30, 1948. Program #1392. 
Superman. March 31, 1948. Program #1393. 
Superman. April 1, 1948. Program #1394.
Superman. May 3, 1948. Program #1416. 
Superman. June 16, 1948. Program #1448. 
Superman. June 17, 1948. Program #1449. 
Superman. June 18, 1948. Program #1450.
Superman. June 28, 1948. Program #1456. 
Superman. June 30, 1948. Program #1458.
Superman. July 2, 1948. Program #1460.
Superman. July 5, 1948. Program #1461.
Superman. July 6, 1948. Program #1462. 
Superman. July 7, 1948. Program #1463. 
Superman. July 13, 1948. Program #1467. 
Superman. July 22, 1948. Program #1474. 
Superman. July 23, 1948. Program #1475.
Superman. July 27, 1948. Program #1477. 
Superman. July 28, 1948. Program #1478. 
Superman. July 29, 1948. Program #1479. 
Superman. July 30, 1948. Program #1480. 
Superman. December 24, 1948.
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