Here’s another entry that’s radio drama but not really “old time”. This spooky tale is from a 1980s Canadian series called Nightfall.
There are so many chilling episodes of this series, but this week I’ve chosen “The Porch Light” about a couple newly moved into a remote farm house. They’re stranded by a heavy snowfall when a mysterious visitor comes to call.
This episode of Escape, originally broadcast November 15, 1949, features the master of schlocky horror, Vincent Price, as one of three keepers trapped in a lighthouse surrounded by thousands of rabid rats.
I had originally planned on sharing four shows during the month of October in honor of Halloween, but I love horror radio drama so much that I couldn’t settle on just four.* So I’m starting the horror before October so I can squeeze six + in. With my first selection, I’m also breaking my own rules by recommending a radio drama that isn’t “old time”. These recordings are 20 years old now though, so I think they’re officially considered vintage.
I think this three-part version of Pet Sematary produced by BBC radio in 1997 is better than the movie. I’ve never read the book (one of the very few Stephen King books I haven’t read), but this adaptation seems closer to the feel of a Stephen King book than the movie. I don’t know about you, but movie special effects have got nothin on my imagination.
I started noticing them a few years ago – one at a petting farm last summer and one in Mt. Horeb, WI (the troll capital of the US). I thought they were cute, but there weren’t any near my house or any that I passed on a daily basis. Then I realized I had 2 boxes of leftover ARCs of The Darkness Knows (and a new book coming out in less than a month), so I pulled up the old little free library map. I started to go hunt out LFLs I could visit on my lunch break at work, but there are only so many of those.
Then this past Saturday I found myself with a whole day of not much to do and some beautiful weather, so my 8-year-old and I went on a little free library scavenger hunt in southern Wisconsin. It was a blast – and truly a hunt, since we had to find most of them by GPS coordinates. I left a signed TDK in each and picked up many middle grade books for Kate (along with a few books for myself). I think we’ll do it again next weekend. I’m also seriously considering getting a little free library of my own. Now I just have to convince the husband that it’s a good idea to have strangers stop by our yard…
In honor of my upcoming birthday (next Monday), I’m featuring my absolute, hands-down favorite old time radio episode of all time – “Sorry, Wrong Number” from my all-time favorite radio show, Suspense.
This episode features Agnes Moorehead (You probably know her as Samantha’s interfering mother, Endora, from Bewitched) as a sickly woman who overhears a menacing telephone conversation. That’s all I’m going to tell you. I don’t want to spoil it.
This episode originally aired August 21, 1943 and was repeated several times throughout the twenty years Suspense was on the air.
The story, by Lucille Fletcher, was turned into a 1948 movie starring Barbara Stanwyck (one of a my favorite sass-mouthed dames). The radio show is far superior, in my opinion, due to the restrictions of the medium. It makes it so much scarier to not be able to see anything that’s happening…
This contest is now closed. Congrats to the winner, Karen O.!
HOMICIDE FOR THE HOLIDAYS (Viv and Charlie Mystery #2) comes out in about six weeks (October 10, 2017 to be exact), so I’m giving away a fabulous, Christmasy themed old time radio prize!
What could you win?
RADIO’S GOLDEN AGE CHRISTMAS
(5 Hours on 5 CDs) The Holiday Season was a very special time during radio’s Golden Age. Here is a wide assortment of programming during those times featuring two radio adaptations of the best loved Christmas films. It’s A Wonderful Life: Lux Radio Theatre’s adaptation of the classic 1946 film with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed re-creating their screen roles. Miracle on 34th Street: Lux Radio Theatre presents the radio version of the 1947 film about Macy’s Santa Claus with Edmund Gwenn re-creating his movie role as Kris Kringle. The Red Skelton Christmas Show of 1951: Features Red as many of his characters during the Christmas Season. The Jimmy Durante Show of 1947: with Jimmy as Santa Claus and guest Margaret O’Brien on Santa’s rounds for the night. And an assortment of holiday skits, music and stories featuring Al Jolson, Bob Hope, Boris Karloff, Charlie McCarthy, Gary Cooper, Hopalong Cassidy, Orson Welles, Spencer Tracy, Bing Crosby, Dixie Lee and Family.
“YOU’VE BEEN POISONED” mug
Godiva Milk Chocolate Cocoa Mix (Does not contain poison… ;))
Cozy Wool Slippers hand knit by yours truly (mostly while watching Hallmark mystery movies and bingeing American Ripper)
Gingerbread Scented Candle from Red Dog Candle Co.
How can you enter?
Email the receipt or picture of the receipt proving you pre-ordered HOMICIDE FOR THE HOLIDAYS (paperback or ebook) to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “HFTH Giveaway”. I’ll randomly pick one winner on October 10, 2017.
Little Orphan Annie started out as a newspaper comic strip in the 1920s and jumped into radio in 1930 in Chicago. It was one of the few programs aimed at children in radio’s early days and was wildly popular.
You may be familiar with the program from its inclusion in a pivotal scene in that “A Christmas Story”. The main character, Ralphie, feverishly decodes the secret message at the end of the program to find… well, I won’t spoil it for those of you that haven’t seen the movie.
The episode of Little Orphan Annie in the above scene is a recreation, but below is an original from 1936 in two parts. The secret message part is at the end of part two.
I picked this episode of Murder at Midnight because it’s seemingly based on a real series of murders in 1940s Chicago committed by The Lipstick Killer. The name comes from the message written in lipstick on a victim’s wall:
My mom watched all the CBS soaps while I was growing up – Young & The Restless, Bold & The Beautiful, As the World Turns, and Guiding Light. (I think Search for Tomorrow was also in the lineup briefly.) That meant I watched them all too. Don’t get me started on Ridge and Brooke or Victor and Nikki…
Like most television genres, soaps actually got their start on the radio in the early 1930s. Florence Gill- Davison, the daytime drama grand dame that puts Vivian and Frances into a tizzy in The Darkness Knows, was based on a combination of real soap grand dames Irna Phillips and Anne Hummert.
Love & Glory, the soap in The Darkness Knows, is an amalgamation of all radio soaps I’ve ever heard, but I think this episode of “Against the Storm” from 1940 really nails what I was after – from the heavy organ throughout to the Ivory Flakes commercial (and contest to win a Pontiac!).
Daytime dramas* were usually about 15 minutes long including sponsor spiels. The overtaxed writers, writing multiple shows a week, could stretch out a scene for days or even weeks. That way a woman listening could miss a day or two and jump right back in without becoming hopelessly lost in the plot. (Something that’s been carried over to present day soaps.) I think you’ll get a taste of that when you listen to this episode. I don’t mean to spoil it, but despite the title of the episode (Pascal Tyler rescues Lucretia), nothing much happens except a man talking soothingly to a horse.
*The term “soap opera” began being used in 1939 because of the heavy soap company endorsements on these programs.