Old Time Radio History #1

Hello everyone! Welcome to something new!


Now, I don’t know if I’ve explained it to all of you (and I don’t know that any people that actually know this reads this thing), but I love old time radio shows.  LOVE them.  I got hooked in high school when one of the local radio stations would pay an hour’s worth of shows during the weekday about the same time I got out of school.  It has grown and evolved ever since, and I’ve studied the history of the olden time entertainment before the invention, and widespread use of the television.  Each post, we’re going to look at some of the more well known programs and some of the more well-known episodes, or content that gave these episodes life.  Let’s get started shall we with:

And what better way to start this out by picking out one of the most well-known episodes from one of the longest running programs in radio history.  Suspense ran for 20 years, and carried suspenseful stories that, as the intro states:

“In this series are tales calculated to intrigue you, to stir your nerves, to offer you a precarious situation and then withhold the solution… until the last possible moment.”

Granted, they also ran other genres such as horror and science-fiction, but they primarily focused on stories that most modern audiences would consider to be thrillers.  And this story that I will feature falls right into that category.

“Sorry, Wrong Number” was originally written by one Ms. Lucille Fletcher, and was first aired May 25, 1943.

Now, you might be asking me, “Baumeister, this isn’t from May 25, 1943”.  And you would be correct.  As you hear in the introduction of this edition, they reused the same script seven more times over the course of the next 17 years, all with the same actress, one Ms. Agnes Moorehead.  The rest of the supporting cast may be different, but she remained the one constant force across the many airings.  As seen above, they made a film out of the original play, with a different actress playing the lead role.

Now, if you haven’t listened to the show, or watched the clip above, the plot is a relatively simple one.  A bedridden housewife is attempting to reach her husband because he’s late getting home from work.  In the middle of calling his office again, something happens with the line, and our main character gets in the middle of a phone call where two men are discussing a murder.  The only major detail that she gets is that the murder will happen at 11:15, roughly about the time a train will be passing by.  What follows…well, that would ruin the story, now wouldn’t it?

In the end, it’s a great story, especially what could be considered to be a one-person story.  Sure, our housewife can get on your nerves, especially towards the end of the story, but I think it’s a great way to dive headfirst into…Suspense!

Well, there we have it.  What did you think? I’ll cover more of these in future installments to come, especially probably the most well-known radio program of them all.  But, that’ll be revealed later.  Until next time, I am the Baumeister, and I have been, obediently yours.


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