In the early and mid 1940's, Chicago's CBS affiliate, WBBM, found they had a rising star in their writing and directing staff. Les Weinrott had taken on a few projects, but most notably Those Websters, a popular sitcom with a slightly jaded history.
The Brewster Boy had been a successful family sitcom on NBC, and the delight of the sponsor, Quaker Oats. At least the sponsor was delighted until the writer/creators suffered accusations as Communist Sympathizers. Unwilling to let a good thing slip away, the ad agency running the show pulled most of the acting company (a young and somewhat naive Dick York chose to stick by the show's creators) and stole the concept, placing the whole thing in less controversial hands.
His work with Those Websters was successful and popular enough to earn Weinrott the opportunity to express his creativity fully with his own show. Five Minutes After The Hour was named for the practice of most stations to fill the first five minutes of each broadcast hour with news and advertising.The hour selected for Weinrott's creativity to be set loose was 11 pm, well after the family prime-time hours.
Les Weinrott had nearly complete control over all aspects of Five After The Hour. His vision was not as macabre as many residents of the late night dial, but some of his themes were not quite family fare. They include a man who received plastic surgery so he could be Hitler's stand in, only to have his face mangled beyond recognition when Berlin fell. Another episode detailed a man who thought he was happy because everyone tells him that he is, but then an inner voice begins to analyze his life. Things become lighter in an episode where a garage mechanic's romance-starved girlfriend convinces him to enroll in poetry classes; soon he can not stop rhyming, which leads him to the halls of power.
Five After The Hour is extraordinarily well done radio drama. In addition to Weinrott's superb writing and direction, the show featured music directed by Caesar Petrillo. The company includes many of Chicago's best radio actors. This was a time when Chicago was a hub of the broadcast industry that rivaled New York and Hollywood.
Fans of tense radio anthologies like Suspense, Escape, Quiet, Please and Lights Out will enjoy Five After The Hour.