Obituary Old Time Radio Suspense Yours Truly Johnny Dollar

Sept 30, 2012: 50th Anniversary of the End of Old Time Radio

Fifty Years ago on this date, old time radio symbolically ended its reign as the primary source of entertainment in American homes.

On September 30, 1962 the final broadcast of Suspense and Yours Truly Johnny Dollar went over the air for the final time.  Click here to learn more about the end of the old time radio shows and listen to the final broadcasts of Suspense and Yours Truly Johnny Dollar.

Click here for a compilation of
“Final Broadcasts of Old Time Radio”

6 replies on “Sept 30, 2012: 50th Anniversary of the End of Old Time Radio”

A sad day for those of us who love the theater of the mind. I grew up just on the cusp of the two eras — I was ten years old before I saw a working television set, which probably sounds incomprehensible to many.

To other who saw their first first pc in mid-childhood and there was now way it could do anything close to what they do today. My uncle had a radioshack Realistic.

It makes a nice read, but the torch was passed well before this. You can go back to newspaper entertainment columns in the early 50s where radio is casually referred to in the past tense. It is interesting that by this time the dramatic cbs shows were on Sundays in the afternoons. What I think they were trying to do was get people coming home from Sunday drives to listen in (and to compete with “Monitor”.

Old Time radio had really had died years before, but this was the proverbial “sealing of the coffin”.

My question is did they know it was the end? Seems to me many radio shows ended abruptly where the cast and crew thought they would be back for another season and told the audience the same only to never come back. I have listened to that Suspense episode and there is no acknowledgement of 20 years of Suspense or that the end has arrived. Did these programs think they would be back?

Suspense, Johnny Dollar and I think Gunsmoke were all cancelled on the same day in April, 1961 (if my memory of the history is correct) but popular demand brought back two of the shows. Why they didn’t choose Gunsmoke over Johnny dollar is beyond me since I feel Gunsmoke was a better written program, but that’s my opinion not fact. Maybe it was a cost factor.

Gunsmoke was great and far superior on the radio than to TV. And that was probably why it was shelved, there was probably more interest in the TV version by the time the 60’s rolled around whereas Suspense (though there was a brief TV version in the early 50’s) and Johnny Dollar didn’t have a TV version.

I would think because Gunsmoke was on tv and they were trying to attract a family coming home from Grandma’s house in the car I think the familiar Gunsmoke would have been the better choice, but maybe paying Bill Conrad and all the other star quality actors was not as cost effective as paying stock players in the other shows. Plus with Suspense they were frequently recycling old scripts. I think it was purely a financial decision. Just an opinion with no facts to back it up.

The quote about Ratings in Radio and TV by Goodman Ace is (to my mind) a chilling precursor to today’s entertainment world. If the almighty 18-25 demographic isn’t sucked into buying the latest brand of shoes or phone then the entertainment suffers. It’s like entertainment is devised just to sell something that 9 times out of 10 has no direct relation to what the show is actually about.

But the problem isn’t selling stuff with no direct relation to what the show is all about (if it was, Burns & Allen would have been dairy farmers), it’s deciding, so to say, that you want a show your sponsor can be proud of.

For some, today could be marked as a melancholic, yet bittersweet day; that is if you remember or are interested in Old Time Radio. The two remaining shows, Suspense and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, had their final broadcasts today fifty years ago. The Golden Age of Radio as it had later been coined, was now history. However, anyone who would recall the ’50s, if old enough, began to notice that as each year passed more long-time running, favorite radio programs disappeared from the daily/nightly line-up. By 1962, television was the primary focal point of the American household. Radio, once focused on music, and a variety of shows and programs, now relied on fast-talking, wise-cracking dee-jays. Rock ‘n’ Roll was slowly becoming the dominate form of music, much to the parents’ dismay. Although, Rock ‘n’ Roll wouldn’t offiically dominate the airwaves until a certain “long-haired” group from Liverpool made the scene in the U.S. in early 1964, radio’s format, on this day in 1962, had changed forever.

Being born in 1978, I obviously do not remember the Golden Age of Radio, nor The Beatles first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, but I have a great interest in OTR and it’s past. I tend to believe that OTR went out with a quiet whimper, if that, for how many actually tuned in to hear the last of the Golden Age of Radio. Or were they entirely forgotten due to that bright box in the living room now? It’s something to think about and I do from time to time.

There’s been a lot of melancholy about the anniversary of the demise of radio drama, and it makes me a little moody too, but I recalled something..

After I’d discovered OTR and was ravenously devouring all the episodes of anything I could find, the people I knew who had heard it first hand showed little of no interest when I talked with them about it. They remembered all the shows but just didn’t seem to care. One of my grandfathers did appreciate the tapes I made for him of Boston Blackie, but nobody else cared to reminisce at all. Weird!

Some still alive who were there to listen enjoy reminiscing about it, some don’t. Life in these United States wasn’t always a barrel of rice pops in the Depression or the war years, even if radio was the nation’s salve and (dare we say) information superhighway. Living in the Great Depression wasn’t exactly the jolly boys (or girls) club; living through World War II wasn’t all USO canteen dances and hijinks on Nantucket Island. On the other hand, I sent my oldest friend’s mother a set of OTR shows that happened to air on the dates of her birthday, and she absolutely loved having those shows again. It really varies from person to person. Which is one good reason why my OTR blog is subheaded, “Standing athwart nostalgia, yelling “Art!” . . .

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