Murder They Wrote

Have you ever tried to ask your grandparents what joys in life did they treasure during their time when they were your age? Surely, they would reply either in jest or in a serious manner, depending on the tone of your question. Now, try asking about their favorite radio shows they often listened to during their younger years. Chances are, they would tell you a handful of radio series starred by some of the most popular celebrities in Hollywood at that time. During the golden age of radio, from 1920s through 1950s, television series were quite the rage and there were a lot of really good to excellent programs, which either lasted long enough or went off the air in an untimely manner and completely went into oblivion.

John-Dickson-Carr-1One such example was Murder by Experts, a mystery program on Mutual (or MBS) that premiered in 1949. The show was produced and directed by a couple of men, David Kogan and Robert A. Arthur, who also dished out The Mysterious Traveler (as well as The Strange Dr. Weird and The Sealed Book) on radio. It featured gruesome tales and dark stories each week. Each of the featured stories, penned by neophytes, was carefully chosen by distinguished members of the Mystery Writers of America. Two of the prolific genre writers of the time, John Dickson Carr and Brett Halliday, were taking turns in the hosting and narrating jobs of the show. Carr did the hosting job on the show’s debut episode on June 13, 1949 until March 13, 1950. Halliday took over the job on March 20, 1950 until the show’s last episode on December 17, 1951.

maurice2Local New York talents such as Maurice Tarplin, Lawson Zerbe, Leslie Woods, Gertrude Warner, Santos Ortega and Larry Haines were some of the brilliant radio personalities tapped to star on the show which was produced in New York. Unlike many other mystery anthologies of that time, Murder by Experts¬†did not turn to gimmickry to draw audience, making it one of the best radio shows of any genre. As a testament to its true worth, the show bagged The Edgar Allan Poe Award (the ‘Edgar’) for best mystery radio program. Of the series’ five dozen or more episodes, only 13-15 of them, quite unfortunately, were salvaged. Those who were lucky few to get those broadcasts confessed that it was worth the time listening to and indeed worth preserving to keep as a treasure.

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