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Adventure Old Time Radio Shows

Adventure comes in many forms, sometimes planned, other times occurring randomly. No matter how it comes about, part of what makes an adventure is the element of risk. The risk is what gives an adventure its spice, but it is not the only factor that makes an adventure.

Vincent Price on Escape

Although there are plenty of adventures to be faced in our daily lives, an important defining element of adventure is that it is something that is out of the ordinary as well as being something that is worth talking about. An adventure can be planned but the results cannot be guaranteed. This leads to another important element of Adventure stories, personal growth.

For many listeners, Adventure Stories in Old Time Radio are all about escapism. In fact, that was the entire basis of CBS's great adventure anthology, Escape. Of course, there is a lot more to a great adventure than merely escaping the daily grind. However, focusing purely on escapism allows us to forget, or at least, partially ignore the importance of personal growth that comes from an Adventure.

There is an undeniable pleasure to be gained from traveling, exploring, skydiving, mountain climbing, scuba diving, river rafting, or any other 'extreme' sport. However, if the participant gets nothing more than an adrenaline high from the experience, it is reduced from being an adventure to an exercise in self-indulgence.

One of the best things about listening to Old Time Radio is the medium's power to transport us out of our day-to-day boring lives. Unlike stories from the printed page or those presented in a video format, Radio Adventures can be enjoyed with your hands and eyes free while you are experiencing your own adventures.

Junior Adventures: Cereal Serials

Flash GordonIf Adventures are defined by the personal growth of those engaging in them, then Adventure Stories for the younger set have an additional purpose of imparting beneficial life lessons to their audience.

This was not the reason that these stories became a staple of network radio; the shows were presented to sell cereal and other things that kids could talk their moms into buying! A rousing adventure was a great way to attract junior listeners and ensure that they would tune in for tomorrow's show.

  • The Amazing Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon Direct from the Funny Papers to the Living Room Radio, Flash Gordon follows the adventures of a Yale athlete who flies with Dr. Zarkov and Dale Arden to intercept the Planet Mungo which is about to collide with the Earth. Flash has many adventures as he tries to defeat the evil Ming, the Merciless.
  • True Adventures of the Junior G-Men Although this sounds like a show about kids who work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the program actually presents stories of real FBI Agents in the hopes that they would inspire youngsters to let productive lives and become upright citizens.

Superhero Adventures: It Takes More Than a Cape and a Funny Suit

Green HornetSuperheroes are usually written off as being 'kid's stuff,' but the programs attracted a wider audience than just the afterschool crowd. 

Once removed from comic pages, colorful costumes lost their importance and a hero had to demonstrate his heroism on the merits of his character. The Supers who transitioned to Radio were generally up to the challenge because, at their core, most Superheroes were primarily crime fighters.

  • The Green Hornet The creative team who brought The Lone Ranger to life brought their brand of crime-fighting to the modern city. Newspaper owner and renowned playboy Britt Reid fights for the little guy against gangsters and corruption.
  • The Adventures of Superman The Man of Steel first appeared to the world on the cover of Action Comics #1 in June 1938 but many of the characteristics which would define Superman were developed on the TAoS radio program. Over the years, the Last Son of Krypton would go up against crooks, mad scientists, Femme Fatales, Nazis, even the KKK.

Adventures from Literature: Armchairs Adventures

Adventures Ellery QueenThe heroes who came from the pages of literature were much more acceptable than those from the comic books. For all their adventurous virtues, comic book Superheroes were relatively two-dimensional characters in comparison to those which short story writers had spent decades learning to develop.

Literature provided an endless variety of stories for adaption to radio plays. The best Adventure writers had learned how to keep an audience on the edge of their seats, an attribute that radio producers took advantage of to keep listeners tuning in each week.

  • The Adventures of Ellery Queen Who says that writers just write about adventures? Ellery Queen wrote mysteries and got in and out of scrapes while solving them!
  • Escape! Some of the most hairy-chested Adventure Tales from the pages of literature were adapted for this sister show to Suspense!

Cowboy Adventures: Horse Operas

Tales Diamond KThe American Cowboy myth is just that, a myth. However, as fans of the Western genre are quick to point out, it is a very good myth. In reality, the noble cowboy who we picture astride his great horse was more typically an uneducated, usually dirty, agricultural worker, and even the greatest of real-life Western heroes were scoundrels at some level.

Post War America, which was on the cusp of both an incredible economic expansion and the baby boom, was desperate for heroes while trying to forget the horrors of foreign war. The Cowboy fit into this niche rather neatly. The frontier setting made him exotic while his decidedly American roots made him relatable.

The fact that the lone cowboy was a nearly completely fictional creation was no barrier. Facts need not burden a good myth.

  • Tales From the Diamond K  Movie cowboy Ken Maynard's career began when he rode with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and moved from stunt rider to leading man in silent and talking Westerns. In this quarter-hour syndicated broadcasts Maynard shared exciting tales of the West.
  • Western Adventures with Historical Figures Collection Despite being the subject of many tall tales, the Old West was populated with real people who had real adventures. Many of the legends are pure myths, but enough of the tales are true enough to give the stories real spice.

Nautical Old Time Radio: A Life at Sea

Now Hear ThisOne of mankind's most universally recognized sources of adventure is going to sea. For centuries, seafarers have gone out to find glory and returned to their native ports with incalculable wealth. If, that is, they did, in fact, manage to return. Even in our modern times of satellite communication and Global Positioning System navigation, going to sea is a dangerous business.

Maritime adventurers need more than a standard measure of courage, but success at sea requires other virtues, such as intelligence and teamwork. Along with the intrinsic dangers of life afloat is the fact that if something does go wrong, and something is sure to go wrong, you and your shipmates are on your own because help is many wet miles away.

  • Now Hear This An enlistment in the United States Navy affords young men and women the opportunity to find adventure at sea while serving their nation. The stories of courageous sailors are told by a steely-eyed Chief Bosun's Mate, the same sort of character who has guided many a Naval Recruit Seaman through their lives afloat.
  • Sharks in Old Time Radio Collection Of all the hazards presented by a life at sea, few are as universal or primal as a sailor's aversion to sharks. Many superstitious sailors were taught to believe that learning to swim was the last thing they wanted to do; if you found yourself overboard, it would be better to drown than to live through an attack by one of these heartless predators.

Aviation Shows: A Life in the Air

Island Venture AdMankind's most enduring dream has been to fly like the birds. Even before the Wright Brothers devised a machine to make the dream a reality near the beginning of the Twentieth century, the realization was dawning that leaving the ground was an inherently dangerous undertaking.

Aviation brings its own rewards, but it got its greatest boost as nations harnessed airpower to dominate warfare. War is not an adventure as much as it is a tragedy, but those who fought in the air possessed the soul of an adventurer.

In the earliest days of Radio, aviation was still in its infancy but by the post-War era, it was moving into the jet age. This, and the wealth of former military pilots trying to keep flying only added to the romance of aviation adventures.

  • Island Venture After the War, a pair of Navy Flying Heroes return to the Central Pacific to use the skills they learned in the Service to fly vital supplies to the outer islands. As peaceful as these exotic tropical islands seem, there is always plenty of adventure in store for our heroes.
  • Smilin' Jack Another adventure that started in the Funny Papers, Zack Mosely's intrepid character could fly anything, be with any girl he wanted, and foil whatever bad guy who might cast a shadow across a runway.

Now, Get Ready to Enjoy Your Own Adventures

Several philosophers have put forward the notion that a life without adventure is a life that is not worth living. However, if you have the right attitude there is plenty of adventure to be found in the most humdrum of existence. 

We do not need to travel to far-off lands and risk our precious skins to find adventure. If we look at it the right way, the morning commute to the office can be filled with derring-do. Fortunately, if there are not enough thrills in our own lives, we can find vicarious adventure aplenty in Old Time Radio!

Show Title Date Adventure Type Show Premise Notes
Adventure Ahead 1944 Juvenile / Literary Network program of Adventures for Boys  
The Adventurer's Club 1947 True Adventure Stories Stories share at meetings of the real Adventurers Club in Chicago Sponsored by Schaeffer Pens on WBBM Chicago
The Adventures of Champion 1949 Juvenile Adventure Stories featuring Gene Autry's horse, Champion, and his young pal, Ricky West, at the Flying A Ranch The role of Champion is placed by the Sound Effects man
The Adventures Ellery Queen 1943-48 Crime Fighting Adventure A famous Mystery Story Writer who actually solves mysteries. More closely related to Softboiled Slueths like Sherlock Holmes, Ellery still finds plenty of danger and Adventure Ellery's sidekick is his Police Inspector Dad
The Adventures of Frank Farrell 1941 Juvenile Adventure An integrity filled student athlete, Frank Farrell teaches lessons about honesty and fair play Syndicated program from the creators of Jimmie Allen
The Adventures of Sea Hound 1942-52 Juvenile Adventure Captain Silver and his young companion, Jerry, roam the seas of the world, facing down spies and pirates  
The Air Adventures of Jimmie Allen 1936-37 Juvenile / Aviation Adventure Boy pilot Jimmie along with his pals Speed and Flash foil bad guys in the air around the world. Young listeners were encouraged to have Pop fill the family car at Skelly Stations to 'get their wings' Sponsor Skelly Oil will hire the same production team to bring us Captain Midnight
George Bruce's Air Stories of the World War 1932 True Adventure / Aviation Stories World War One flying hero George Bruce brought his tales of aerial derring-do from the skies over Europe to the pages of pulp magazines and finall to the airwaves  
Airplanes and Pilots in Old Time Radio 1946-1958 Aviation Adventures This collection follows the aviation exploits of some of your favorite OTR Personalities  
Anne of the Airlanes 1930 Juvenile / Aviation Adventure A pioneering aviation show that told the story of an air hostess in the earliest days of air travel Anne is thought to have been inspired by the popularity of Amelia Earhart
Batman's Appearances in Old Time Radio 1945-1950 Comic Book Literary Adventures The Caped Crusader never had a show of his own in OTR, but the character was popular enough to appear on other programs  
Black Flame of the Amazon 1938 Juvenile Adventure Follow the adventures of explorer Harold Noice and he young friends Jim and Jean Brady as the capture animals and foil bad guys in the Amazon jungle  
Blackstone the Magic Detective 1948-1950 Crime Fighting Adventure Blackstone was a stage magician who used his talents to foil bad guys and to prove that there is not magic In each episode, Blackstone performs a mystifying trick, and then explains how the illusion is done
The Blue Beetle 1940 Costumed Crime Fighter Adventure One of the earliest Costumed Super Heroes in the comic strips, CBS brought the Blue Beetle to the airwaves to compete with the success of Superman on Mutual The Blue Beetle originally fought crime without the benefit of superpowers
Bobby Benson and the B-Bar-B Riders 1949-1959 Western / Juvenile Adventure The B-Bar-B Ranch was just the place for an All-American Boy to grow up and orphan Bobby Benson would become a Western version of Jack Armstrong Bobby Benson memorabilia included cowboy hats and shirts, record albums, sweat shirts, gun holsters, various clothing accessories, and a comic book.
Bold Venture 1951-1952 Maritime / Crime Fighting Adventure A fun and somewhat irreverent syndicated program starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall In real life, Bogey kept a 75' racing yawl named Santana in Newport Harbor
Buck Rogers 1938-1947 Science Fiction / Juvenile Adventure One of the ealiest SciFi radio programs, Buck Rogers helped to label the Science Fiction as "kid's stuff" for many years. The radio serial was pretty faithful to its comic strip origins.  
Captain Midnight 1939-1949 Juvenile / Aviation Adventure Captain Midnight began chasing bad guys as a former WWI Flying Ace, and would have more All-American adventures during and after the Second World War. Sponsor Skelly Oil used Captain Midnight and his Secret Squadron as a follow up to the Air Adventures of Jimmie Allen
Captain Starr of Space 1953 Science Fiction / Juvenile Adventure Captain Starr and his crew travel the heavens in their spaceship, fighting crime and upholding the American Way  
Challenge of the Yukon' also known as 'Sgt Preston of the Yukon' 1938-1953 Juvenile Adventure Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Preston and his loyal sidekick, King the Husky Sled dog, bring law and order to the wild Yukon Gold Country. Created by the same producers who created The Lone Rangers and The Green Hornet
Chandu the Magician 1948-1949 Crime Fighting Adventure After studying eastern mysticism with an Indian Yogi, Chanu the Magician uses his stunning powers to befudle con-men and othe no-good-niks  
The Adventures of Charlie Chan Radio Show 1935-1936 Crime Fighting Adventure Spouting loads of Chinese wisdom while Number One Son does the legwork, Charlie Chan proves to be a thorn in the side of bad guys around the world  
The Chase 1952-1953 Mystery Horror Adventure This jewel of a program from NBC supposes that the best stories are about pursuit, either someone chasing a goal or else escaping from danger chasing them.  
The Cisco Kid 1952-1959 Western / Juvenile Adventure Constantly wandering the American South West, Cisco and his pal Pancho became 'Mexican Robin Hoods" by righting wrongs and defending the defenceless  
Cloak and Dagger 1950 Espionage Adventure Based on true-life exploits of American Intelligence operatives during the Second World War  
The Clyde Beatty Show 1950-52 Juvenile / Animal Adventure The World's Greatest Animal Trainer takes us behind the scenes under the Big Top and into the most dangerous jungles where he finds the ferocious cats  
The Count of Monte Cristo 1944-52 Literary Adventures Based on the novel by Alexandres Dumas, the serial follows the swashbuckling adventures of wrongly imprisoned Edmund Dantes  
Adventures of Danny Marsdon 1948 Crime Fighting Adventure Newspaperman Danny Marsden catches the crooks he is investigating, but the stories also come with a lesson about living the American Dream  
Daredevils of Hollywood 1938 Movieland Adventure Stories of the early Hollywood stuntmen and their exploits from the men who lived them  
Death Valley Days 1936-1939 Old West Adventure Sometimes as thoughtful as they are action packed, the stories in this Western Anthology were based on real events and people During the years she wrote for the show, New York native Ruth Cornwall Woodman spent months in the Western deserts looking for stories
Dick Tracy 1935-1948 Juvenile / Crimefighting Adventure Direct from the funny papers to after-school airwaves, Dick Tracy faced down some of the toughest and meanest crooks to the delight of kids and adults alike Chester Gould's strip first appeared in 1931 on the heels of the Prohibition era
Don Winslow Navy - Juvenile / Maritime Adventure Unlike other Super Heroes, Don Winslow's Super Power came from being in the United States Navy  
Douglas of the World 1953 Espionage Adventure International Newspaper Correspondent Brad Douglas travels the world finding storeies and spreading the word about the American way  
Escape 1947-1954 Literary Adventures Often called a sister show to Suspense, the thrilling stories on Escape came from the selves of great literature Although Escape was incredibly popular, it rarely had a steady sponsor
Escape: Ocean Tales 1947-1954 Maritime Adventures The huge breadth of material used for Escape meant that there were plenty of great sea stories on the air  
Fire Fighters - Lifesaving Adventure The serial follows a rookie fireman in his jounrey to become a full-fledged fire fighter  
First Responders 1935-1960 Lifesaving Adventure A collection of programs about firefighters, doctors,cops, and soldiers whose job is to save lives  
Flash Gordon 1935 Juvenile / Science Fiction Adventure Follow Flash Gordon from America to Planet Mungo where he fights the evil Ming the Merciless Comic great Gale Gordon's earliest acting gig on radio was as the first Flash Gordon
General Motors On Safari 1969=72 Documentary Adventure The American automotive giant wanted to market their trucks to the South African market with this program of big game hunters and other adventurers.  
The Green Hornet 1938-1952 Juvenile / Crimefighting Adventure Newspaper publisher and playboy Britt Reid is actually the Green Hornet, a masked crime-fighter who, with the assistance of his martial arts-expert driver Kato, secretly crusades to rid his city of crime and corruption Created by George Trendle and Fran Striker, the team who brought us The Lone Ranger
The Adventures of Harry Lime (The Third Man) 1951-1952 Crime Fighting Adventure Spun-off from The Third Man film, this Cold War-era drama presents oe of Orson Welles best roles Welles' character was not the lead in the movie that inspired the show, and actually died in the film
Heroes, Superheroes, & People Who Think They Are Heroes Collection 1935-1953 Costumed Crime Fighter Adventure A collection of Heroes, Super Heroes, and people who think they are or want to be Super Heroes  
High Adventure 1947-1993 Literary Adventures Billed as Mutual's answer to CBS's Escape and Suspense, once High Adventure developed a following the show moved to NBC! The High Adventure production was noted for its realistic sound effects
Hop Harrigan 1942-1948 Juvenile / Aviation Adventure Hop's adventures have more to do with actual flying and airplanes than most other aviation adventures  
Horatio Hornblower 1952-1969 Maritime Adventures Stories of C.S. Forrester's famous Royal Navy Commander Originally produced in England, the series was rebroadcast on CBS three times
Howie Wing, A Saga of Aviation 1938 Juvenile / Aviation Adventure Aviation Cadet Howie learns about flying under the tutelage of his WWI Flying Ace mentor Howie Wing was a follow-up to Jimmie Allen
Intrigue 1946 Espionage Adventure During the summer after WWII, CBS presented this series of spy stories  
Island Venture 1945-1946 Aviation Adventures After the War, a pair of Navy Flyers return to the Central Pacific and find adventures flying freight to the outer islands  
Jack Armstrong, The All American Boy 1940-1948 Juvenile Adventure Jack Armstrong and his pals get out of scrapes around the world by expressing the American Way  
Jason and the Golden Fleece 1952-53 Maritime Adventures From New Orleans' French Quarter, Jason and his boat, the Golden Fleece, finds all sorts of adventures  
John Steele, Adventurer 1949-1955 He-man Adventures The character of John Steele was created to roam the globe having and reporting on manly adventures like big game hunting and horse racing  
Johnny Modero, Pier 23 1947 Crime Fighting Adventure On his way to creating Dragnet, Jack Webb presented Johnny Modero, one of the hardest of the hard-boiled sorts to work the San Francisco waterfront  
A Journey to the Center of the Earth 1963 Literary Adventures Based on the Jules Verne story, theaction follows the scientist and his party though tubes in an Icelandic volanic crater Verne based the science of the story on the then new study of geology by Charles Lyell
Jungle Jim 1935-1949 Juvenile / Animal Adventure Before eco-tourism was a thing, most jungle adventures were the pervue of big-game hunters like Jungle Jim Brady Jungle Jim first appeared in te Hearst Newspaper Funnie Pages
True Adventures of the Junior G-Men 1936 Juvnile / Crime Fighting Adventure Using the motto, "It's easier to build boys than to mend men", the program used stories from the FBI to inspire yongsters to grow up right and become solid citizens Created and hosted by real-life FBI agent Melvin Purvis
The Land of the Lost 1945-1947 Juvenile / Maritime Adventure Youngsters and grownups were invited to journey to the fantastical world beneath the sea, hosted by a wise fish called the Red Lantern  
Lassie 1948-1949 Juvenile / Animal Adventure The famous collie saves the day and shares adventures of other remarkable canines  
Lightning Jim 1939-44 Western / Juvenile Adventure Factually based tales of How the West was Won as seen through the eyes of Lightning Jim, US Marshall  
Magic Island 1936 Juvenile / Maritime Adventure A marvelous serial about a wealthy woman who will do anything to rescue her daughter from the clutches of an evil mad scientist about to take over the world  
Mark Trail 1950-1951 Juvenile / Animal Adventure The intrepid forest ranger foils bad guys while teaching kids about the Great Outdoors  
Michael Strogoff Courier of the Czar - He-man Adventures Manly-man Strogoff delivers messages for his Czar in the wild days of early Russia A break from his science fiction masterpieces, the story is considered one of Jules Verne's best works
Moon Over Africa 1935-1950 He-man Adventures Proessor Anton Edwards is convinced that he can find the secrets of the lost city of Atlantis in the wilds of Africa  
Now Hear This 1951 Maritime Adventures The Navy Recruiting Service sought to attract young men to serve by sharing heroic tales told by a crusty old Chief Bos'n  
Old Time Radio Fights Nazi Spies 1942-1954 Espionage Adventure The fight against Fascism in WWII presented an existential threat to the United States, and everyone in Old Time Radio tried to foil Nazi Spies  
Out of the Deep 1946-1951 Maritime Adventures Deep sea diver Capt Gunnar Carlisle sails the world to salvage ship wrecks  
Pirates of Old Time Radio 1935-1962 Maritime Adventures "Arrr Matey!" Every good story involves Pirates, and Old Time Radio has several of them  
Rare Adventure Old Time Radio Shows 1936-1951 He-man Adventures Not all of the great shows from the Golden Age of Radio were preserved as part of big collections. Enjoy these Advnturous rarities  
Rare Aviation Old Time Radio Shows 1932-1951 Aviation Adventures Man has always dreamed of flying like the birds, as these rare programs demonstrate.  
Renfrew Mounted 1939-1948 Juvenile / Crimefighting Adventure Royal Police Inspector Douglas Renfrew chases bad guys in the Canadian Wilderness  
Secret Missions 1949 Espionage Adventure WWII and Post-War spy stories from the files of the Office of Naval Intelligence  
Sharks in Old Time Radio 1938-1960 Maritime Adventures Just when you thought it was safe to listen to OTR at the beach! Sharks have always been one of the most feared creatures from the deep  
The Silver Eagle 1954 Western / Juvenile Adventure Canadian Mountie Jim West and his companion, trapper Joe Biideaux foil bad guys in the Canadian wilderness. Special emphasis is placed on protecting the rights of Canada's First Peoples  
Sky Blazers 1940 Aviation Adventures WWI Flying Hero Col Roscoe Turner presents stories of the men who blazed trails in the sky Created by Philips H. Lord, the program was Gangbusters in the air
Sky King 1945-1983 Juvenile / Aviation Adventure Rancher Skyler King uses his airplane to do all sorts of cowboy stuff Peter Pan Peanut Butter offered numerous Sky King Premiums
Smilin' Jack 1939 Juvenile / Aviation Adventure With a smile glued beneath his pencil thin moustache, Jack and his sidekicks foiled bad guys with their airplanes  
Sonny and Buddy 1935-1936 Juvenile Adventure Two young friends sho sometinmes get into trouble, sometimes get lost, but always find fun and adventure!  
Speed Gibson 1937-1940 Juvenile / Aviation Adventure Speed and his pals in the International Secret Police face off against the Octopus and his henchmen  
Standby for Adventure - Variety Adventures NBC's Syndication Service brought toegether a variety of different adventures involving horror, action, criminals, murder, and the supernatural  
Straight Arrow 1949-1951 Steve Adams is a Comanche boy raised by ranchers who fulfills a native prophecy to become a great warrior who rights many wrongs.

Adventure OTR >>>

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