Factual crime drama (1935 - 57)
This "best remembered" of all the crime
stoppers shows was billed as "the only national
program that brings you authentic police case histories."
Phillips H. Lord, already in radio, was looking for
a new show concept.
He hit upon the angle doing a
crime show, like the gangster films of the early 1930s,
but making it the real thing, about the real criminals
and cops and the FBI.A cross between the newspapers
and the movies…what an idea! He went right to
Washington, and got the tacit approval of J. Edgar
Hoover himself to develop a show that used only closed
cases (thus getting a good outcome) and had a solid
Lord wrote his first episode
right in the Justice Building in Washington.The show
began on NBC as "The G-Men," with Chevrolet
Changing to Gangbusters the show came
on strong right from the start and was a radio sensation.
The pace was fast, the action was real and sometimes
violent, the crimes and criminals were acted doing
what was written about in the papers.
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way through the major crimes and criminals, Lord turned
to accounts of lesser known, but often more interesting
true crime cases.The sound effects were great, and
the hard-hitting tales were told with all the thrills
of a good gangster movie.It followed that, like the
notices in the Post Office, he could relay real wanted
poster information on the show as well. During Gangbusters,
alerts were broadcast for real criminals wanted by
the police or FBI, and teasers called "Crime
Buster Clues" were given as teasers to keep the
audience ready for more!
Also in the true crime vein on old time radio is
Attorney and This
Crime Does Not Pay, and Tales of the Texas
Rangers, took the idea on as well. Dragnet
is a fine show, and stayed as close to the real cases
as any "true crime" old time radio show ever did.
Tales of the Texas Rangers
was the modern western version of Dragnet,
and is a solid, well done crime show. Less factual,
but still exciting, are I
Was a Communist for the FBI, and The FBI
in Peace and War.