There are so many facets to the world of Old Time Radio, it is hard to know where to start enjoying it. The truth is there is so much to enjoy in OTR, it is easy to imagine that almost anything you pick out will delight you.
But that still leaves you with the difficult job of choosing! Lets look at a few of the options: Most OTR fans get started by choosing a genre of shows they enjoy. There are Adventure programs for action fans, for those who enjoy a good puzzle there are a number of great Detective and Mystery shows. If your day isn’t complete without a few good laughs there are several comedy programs, ranging from sketch driven variety programs to character rich situation comedies.
The great thing about enjoying OTR today is that there are so many ways and places you can enjoy it. For many of us there is nothing that makes a commute enjoyable than following an exciting adventure serial program. At the end of the day it helps to remove the stress of the work day by trying to solve a mystery along with a hard boiled detective during the drive home. Time spent working in front of the computer goes a lot better listening to the songs and jokes of a variety show. With a good set of noise-reducing earbud speakers attached to our pocket MP3 player or cellphone, some of us are even known to enjoy listening to the cowboys in Western programs while mowing the lawn!
Many purveyors of Old Time Radio try to sell their programs on the nostalgia appeal. Sadly, most of the people who are nostalgic for these shows are no longer with us. Most of the series and shows are very enjoyable in their own right, but we feel that knowing a little bit about the actors and the programs make them even more enjoyable. Hopefully they will whet your appetite to know more about these great shows.
Some of our favorite genres and and shows include:
Mystery and Horror:
These are the late-night shows that make you want to pull the bedsheets up over your eyes! Most will agree that the most blood-curdling ghost story is even more frightening on radio!
Mystery In The Air features one of the creepiest voices and personalities ever to grace the screen, Peter Lorre.
The Whistler is a collection crime stories where the justice always comes to the villain, but not a way that he or the listeners would expect!
Suspense will keep you on the edge of your seat with nearly a thousand episodes of “Radio’s Outstanding Theater of Thrills!”
Lights Out! was one of the original late night thrillers with stories written by two of radio’s greatest talents, Wyllis Cooper and Arch Oboler.
Inner Sanctum Mysteries is like having Halloween every week with creepy stories, dark jokes, and creepy thrills.
Weird Circle brings us a collection of classic ghost stories.
These shows will take our imaginations to the far corners of the world.
Escape! features some of the greatest stars Hollywood, Broadway and radio in some great original and adapted stories.
Cloak and Dagger is based on true stories of the Operatives of the OSS, predecessor of the CIA.
The Adventures of Superman. Much of the legend of the original comic book hero was actually developed on the radio.
There can never be enough things for us to laugh at, and Radio brings us some of the best!
You Bet Your Life, developed as a sort of game show, the program was really a chance for Groucho Marx to simply be Groucho!
Fibber McGee and Molly is nothing but good-hearted fun featuring a well meaning schemer who seems to have never held a steady job and his long suffering but happy wife along with his friends and neighbors.
The Jack Benny Program is a collection of music and skits built around a character who was everything that the real Jack Benny wasn’t, vain, cantankerous, and cheap!
Crime and Detective:
Whether we are following the wits and bravery of hard working policemen and brave private eye, or pitting our wits against one of the great detective, everyone enjoys Crime and Detective stories.
Dragnet starring Jack Webb is a series of exciting stories based on true cases of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Tales of the Texas Rangers brings us more true crime stories from the Oldest and Most Well known law enforcement agency in North America.
Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar is the story of an investigator for insurance companies with an “action-packed expense account”.
The Adventures of Nero Wolfe is a humorous collection of the cases of a rather eccentric but incredibly intelligent crime solver whose effectiveness isn’t hampered by his girth.
More serious stories, but still greatly entertaining, our dramas include tales from literature, great movies, and even “serial dramas”.
Academy Award Theater, adaptations of Hollywood’s best movies, all Oscar Winners.
Dr Christian was one of the great wash-tub-weepers that kept house wives entertained with their continuing stories and weekly cliffhangers.
Lux Radio Theater brought the stories of the best movies to the radio, featuring a full orchestra, and usually the film’s original stars performing before a live audience.
Sometimes condemned as “kid stuff”, several radio programs treated Sci Fi as serious literature.
Dimension X and X Minus One had stories from the pages of great SciFi magazines and the best and most influential SciFi writers.
Space Patrol was meant for kids, but the space-opera was based on the best scientific knowledge of the time.
Some of these are kid shows, and others are serious adult drama, while others are treasures of great country music!
Gunsmoke and Have Gun, Will Travel were serious drama that never allowed the gritty reality of the rough and tumble West get in the way.
The Six Shooter featured the acting talent of the great James Stewart and some of the best written stories of any radio genre.
Melody Ranch featured the music of one of the screens great singing Cowboys, as well as a story or two of genuine ranch life.