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Detective Old Time Radio Shows

Bogart Bacall on the Radio
Conflict is essential to any good story, but it is rarely as obvious as it is in crime fiction. The conflict in crime fiction rarely involve man against nature or the elements like a straight adventure story (but the Genre is broad enough to allow these elements in). Rather crime fiction is a man against man competition, but it is usually a tale of good versus evil.
crime fiction, both in Literature and on the radio, is a large category. At its most basic, it is a story that involves a crime of some sort, and the forces that attempt to bring whoever committed the crime to justice. Edgar Allan PoeThis definition may be too broad- Fibber McGee wheedling out of a parking ticket or the Great Gildersleeve taking shortcuts on his income tax may be crimes as well as good stories, but hardly great crime fiction. So an important factor in crime fiction is the severity of the crimes. Which leads to the popularity of mysteries involving murder, the most severe crime of all.

Edgar Allen Poe is generally acknowledged as one of the earliest crime writers with his C. August Dupin stories of "ratiocination", the Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Mystery of Marie Roget, and The Purloined Letter. The first two stories involve murder, but the third introduces a new crime, blackmail.

While Poe and others began the world of crime fiction, no one had as much influence in making the genre popular than Arthur Canon Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. Holmes has become synonymous with Detective work. Arthur Canon Doyle would only write four Holmes novels and 56 short stories, but the stories and adventures of Victorian England's most spectacular sleuth didn't end there. The character has appeared in numerous works by other authors and in many different films and TV adaptations. And he has made a number of appearances on the Radio. Beginning in the 1930s, Holmes, and his partner, Dr. Watson, have been portrayed in numerous series and adaptations.

Edgar Allen Poe Weird Circle "Murder in Rue Morgue":

Father Ronald Knox

Ten Commandments for Detective Fiction, 1928

  1. The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow.
  2. All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course.
  3. Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable.
  4. Ronald KnoxNo hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.
  5. No Chinaman must figure in the story.
  6. No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right.
  7. The detective must not himself commit the crime.
  8. The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader.
  9. The stupid friend of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind; his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader.
  10. Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.

The Holmes stories are both praised and criticized for their formulaic conventions. The "Whodunit" detective story becomes a puzzle for the listener or reader as the audience tries to solve the mystery before the protagonist reveals the answer. English clergyman and mystery writer Father Ronald Knox half joking went so far as to publish a set of Ten Golden Rules for Detective Fiction. (Of course other authors make it a point to break as many of the rules as they can.)

Many times the sleuth in a rules based whodunit is an amateur detective, or one who has left the police force. Part of canon Doyle's inspiration for Holmes was the seeming incompetence of Scotland Yard, and Holmes began a long tradition of detectives showing up the professionals. Some of the greatest Whodunit characters are Agatha Christie's retired Belgian Policeman, Hercule Poirot, Crime Fiction writer Ellery Queen, Hearthstone of the Death Squad, and Philo Vance. Some of the common elements to these stories is that the detective, whether associated directly with the Police or not, tend to be somewhat aristocratic, and the crimes are committed against, and usually by, members of the British middle and upper classes.

Hercule Poirot:

Ellery Queen:


Philo Vance

This very British fantasy of such polite murders and the detectives who solved them didn't set well with American sensibilities. The reaction would evolve into the Hard-boiled Detective.

Gerald Mohr as Philip MarloweThe Hard-boiled style was born in the Pulp magazines of the '20s and '30s, and from there is was a short leap to the screen and the radio airwaves. The Hard-boiled school took an unsentimental view of violence and sex, many of the Western stories in the pulps were as hard-boiled as the detective stories. Among the earliest of the hard-boiled detectives was Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade, introduced in the story "The Maltese Falcon" in 1929. Spade would only appear in four other stories besides the 'Falcon, but it was the portrayal of the San Francisco-based detective in the film starring Humphrey Bogart that helped to invigorate the popularity of the hard-boiled detective during the 1940s and beyond.

Sam Spade:

Another hard-boiled character forever associated with Bogey is Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlow. Fat ManMarlow first appeared in "The Big Sleep", published as a novel in1939, but elements of the character appeared in several of Chandler's earlier short stories (most of which would be rewritten and published as Philip Marlow stories.) Like most of the hard-boiled detectives, Marlow prefers to work alone, he is usually poor, but upholds his personal code of honor (not unlike the cowboy heroes of western fiction), he carries a gun, but will take a beating if it will lead him to solving the case. Although the hard-boiled detective has a strong sense of right and wrong, he holds most authority, especially the cops, in a degree of disdain- and the cops usually would prefer to keep the Private Eye out of the way as well.

Philip Marlow:

Other noteworthy hard-boiled detectives include The Falcon, The Fat Man, Barry Craig, Dan Holiday of Box 13, Danny Clover of Broadway is My Beat, Yours Truly Johnny Dollar, Johnny Madero, and Pat Novak for Hire.

Barry Craig:

Box 13:

Broadway is My Beat:

The Falcon:

The Fat Man:

Pat Novak for Hire :

Yours Truly Johnny Dollar:

In contrast to the loner hard-boiled detectives, the cops of the police procedural dramas are ultimately team players. The long drudgery of police work contrasted with the low-life criminals they have to deal with often gives them a hard out look on life that can make them just as tough as the most hard-boiled loner. Some of the earliest examples of the police procedural, like Police Reporter, Calling All Cars, and Gangbusters, were more than a little sensationalist. However the true crimes they dramatized where in fact gruesome and sensational in their own right.

Police Reporter:

Calling All Cars:


The most influential of the police procedural dramas was Jack Webb's Dragnet. The program was not immediately accepted by network executives.It was felt that the day to day stories of Policemen told "straight" wouldn't sell without resorting to melodrama.Jack WebbDragnet became known for its high degree of realism along with the incorruptibility of the police officers it portrayed. Every aspect of police work was chronicled, from patrol and paper work, to investigation and the questioning of witnesses and suspects. The personal lives of the detectives was mentioned, but usually as background, not as central to the story. Webb would state in an interview "We try to make it as real as a guy pouring a cup of coffee."


In direct contrast to the hard-boiled detectives and the hard edge of the real police dramas, we have the Soft-Boiled Detectives. The element that makes them Soft-boiled is that they aren't Hard-boiled! Think of them as "Murder for the fun of it!" Some of the Soft-boiled detectives fall squarely in the camp of the traditional, rules based mysteries from the Golden Age of Mystery Fiction, while others are more up to date, and even with a murder in the mix, a lot of fun.

In hard boiled detective stories the girl is usually either "the poor damsel in distress" that the detective is helping, or the Femme Fatale who makes even more trouble for our hero. However there are a number of "Dame Detectives "who are rather soft boiled (with nice soft curves!) Phyl Coe Mysteries was an early show that was sponsored by the Philco Radio Company and featured a number of promotions along with the mystery.Mercedes McCambridge The Candy Matson character was originally written as male role, but after a talk from the writer's mother-in-law, he cast his wife in the role instead! Candy had a few elements borrowed from Hard-boiled detectives; she tried to present herself as being completely mercenary in her detecting. But her adventures, even when they involve murder, tend to be light hearted enough to count her as soft-boiled. Mercedes McCambridge's portrayal of Marty Ellis Bryant in Defense Attorney and The Defense Rests (same character in both shows) is one of the most entertaining mystery shows available. Attorney Ellis always finds herself defending some one who has been framed for murder, and with the help of her News Reporter boyfriend, manages find the guilty party.

Candy Matson

Phyl Coe Mysteries:

The real appeal of the detective story of course isn't the crime or the criminal, but the solving of the crime. Often the victim himself and what has happened to him is unimportant to the enjoyment of the story. And this is so completely opposite of real life. But crime fiction is ultimately a fantasy, even the Hard-boiled detective. While solving the crime may require more or less intellectual power, the audience enjoys the illusion that they have the same of greater intellectual power of the detective.

As macabre as the subject matter of murder is, the appeal of the detective story, no matter what medium, is that the best are just plain fun. See also: Espionage in Old Time Radio.


Some of our Favorite Detective Compilations:

Rare Detective & Crime Shows
Rare Detective Shows

Hardboiled Detectives
Hardboiled Detectives

Softboiled Detectives
Softboiled Detectives
Espionage & Spies

Detective Couples
Detective Couples

Defective Detectives
Bungling Burglars

Fatal Females
Fatal Females

Dame Detectives
Dame Detectives

Frank Lovejoy
Frank Lovejoy Collection

Jeff Chandler
Jeff Chandler Collection

Jack Webb
Jack Webb Collection

Bob Bailey
Bob Bailey Collection
Best of Dragnet
Best of Dragnet

Agatha Chistie
Agatha Christie

John Dickson Carr
John Dickson Carr


Radio Detectives
Quick Reference

Radio Show Title Date Lead Slueuth
(& Sidekick)
Stars Radio Show Premise
A Case for Dr Morelle 1957   Cecil Parker and Sheila Sim Dr. Morrelle is a very wise sleuth, but too confident of his own intelligence for many peoples taste. His secretary, Miss Frayle seem to be the only one who can deal with him, and she is worth being around. As irritating as he is, Morrelle always solves the crime in his very British way.
Address Unknown 1954- 1971   Lionel Stevens, Harp McGuire, Joe McCormick and Ray Barrett Each show dramatizes a real case of a missing person taken from the Missing Persons Bureau files in London.
Adventures of Ellery Queen 1943- 1967 Ellery Queen and his father, Richard Queen Sydney Smith, Marian Shockley, Santos Ortega, Ted de Corsia Ellery Queen was an author who solved mysteries in his spare time and then wrote about his harrowing adventures; his sidekick was his own father, Richard Queen.
Adventures of Frank Race 1949- 1950 Frank Race, Marc Donovan Tom Collins, later Paul Dubov Frank Race was an attorney before the War, but after working for the OSS, his business is now Danger! Race. Now he works as an insurance investigator, sort of a cross between James Bond and Johnny Dollar.
Adventures of Harry Lime (The Third Man) 1951- 1952 Harry Lime Orson Welles Hardly a Good Guy, Harry Lime was killed in the movie, "The Third Man". He recalls his sorted adventures in this series.
Adventures of Maisie 1945- 1953 Maisie Ravier Ann Sothern Based on the Maisie movies that made Ann Sothern famous. Maisie is a sassy and street-smart American working woman turned woman of the world
Adventures of the Abbotts   Jean and Pat Abbott Les Damon and Claudia Morgan In each episode, Jean helps her husband, a well-renowned San Franciscan private eye, to solve yet another mystery.
Amazing Mr Malone 1947-1951 John Joseph Malone Gene Raymond, George Petrie, Frank Lovejoy Socialite John Joseph Malone (Gene Raymond, George Petrie, Frank Lovejoy) is a tough Chicago criminal lawyer who takes on a new case in each episode. Malone never gives up until justice is done
Are These Our Children 1946- 1948 San Francisco juvenile court   "Dramatizations of actual case histories taken from the files of juvenile delinquency court."
Avengers (South African) 1971- 1973 John Steed and Emma Peel Donald Monat, Diane Appleby Spy Adventures adapted for South African Radio
Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator 1951- 1955 Barrie Craig William Gargan Hardboiled New York Private Investigator, "The Man when you can't go to the Cops."
Best of Dragnet 1949- 1957 Sgt. Joe Friday Jack Webb One of the original Police procedural dramas, Dragnet brings us the drudgery and boredom of police work with the heroism and bravery.
Big Guy 1950 Joshua Sharp Henry Calvin Unusual collection that follows the adventures of single dad detective, Joshua Sharp, as he tries to juggle parenthood and his detective agency
Big Town 1937- 1952 Steve Wilson, managing editor of the crusading Illustrated Press Edward G. Robinson Crusading Editor takes on crime and issues
Black Museum 1951 Scotland Yard Detectives Orson Welles Orson Welles presents stories from the objects in the Scotland Yard Black Museum, always stories of grisly murder.
Blackstone the Magic Detective 1948- 1949 Real-life magician Harry Blackstone Real-life magician Harry Blackstone Magician solves mysteries with his knowledge of magic and powers of deduction.
Bold Venture 1951- 1952 Sate Shannon and Sailor Duval Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall Havana Hotel owner Slate Shannon and his wise cracking side kick Sailor Duval seem to attract the roughest sort, but always come out on top.
Border Patrol 1941 1941- 1942 Border Patrol Agents   Agents of the US Border Patrol keep aliens and outlaws from crossing our borders.
Boston Blackie 1945- 1950 Boston Blackie Chester Morris Boston Blackie, "a modern Robin Hood, a little on the gangster side, wise to all the tricks but always reversing to do a lot of good."
Box 13 1948- 1949 Dan Holiday Alan Ladd Writer Dan Holiday has a an ad: "Adventure wanted : will go anywhere, do anything " Box 13." And he gets more adventure than he could want.
Broadway is My Beat 1949- 1954 Detective Danny Clover Larry Thor Hardboiled detective Danny Clover covers is a police detective who grew up on the hard streets of New York City.
Bulldog Drummond 1941- 1954 Bulldog Hugh Drummond George Coulouris Bulldog was a methodical crime-solving sleuth who let nothing get in his way of his goal, which was to put a stop to crime!
Call the Police 1947- 1949 Recent graduate of the FBI academy, Bill Grant Joseph Julian, Joan Tompkins Call the Police was billed as "a new series of realistic radio dramas inspired by the courageous work of police departments all over America."
Calling All Cars 1947 - 1949 New Officer in Each Episode Charles Frederick Lindsley (narrator) One of the earliest Police Procedural dramas, considered a precursor to Dragnet.
Calling All Detectives 1945- 1950 Detective Browning Paul Barnes, master of many voices, played all characters. "The Sealy Mystery Quiz". Paul Barnes, "the Man of a Thousand Voices" does a one man show presenting a short detective play. After the mystery Barnes calls a listener in the Chicago area and asks a question about a detail of the story.
Candy Matson 1949- 1951 Candy Matson, Lt Ray Mallard, Rembrandt Watson Natalie Parks, Henry Leff, Jack Thomas. Many feel that Candy Matson was the finest of all lady detectives on radio. Not only is she smart, tough and beautiful, but the show is peppered with references to San Francisco locations.
Case Dismissed 1954   Local Chicago Talent Brought to you by the Illinois Bar Association, high-lighting the services of professional Attorneys
Casebook of Gregory Hood 1946- 1951 Gregory Hood, Sanderson Taylor Gale Gordon, others Gregory Hood is a wealthy San Francisco Antiques importer whose globe trotting often lands him in the way of crimes having to do with the items he is after.
Cases of Mr Ace 1947 Edward Ace, sole owner of Ace Detective Agency George Raft Cases of Mr Ace is a typical Tough Guy detective, and not above lifting plots from other Gum Shoes. He tells his stories to a criminal psychologist who is doing research.
Casey Crime Photographer 1943- 1955 "Flashgun" Jack Casey, reporter Ann Williams. Matt Crowley, briefly by Jim Backus, and Staats Cotsworth. "Flashgun" Jack Casey takes crime scene photos for his newspaper, and usually winds up involved in the crimes he covers.
Charlie Chan Late 1940s Charlie Chan & Number One Son Ed Begley Sr The Honolulu based Chinese Detective was originally an answer to the "Yellow Peril" stereotypes like evil Dr Fu Manchu. Detective Chan would turn up all over the world and solve crimes with a combination of shrewd observations and taking advantages of the Bag Guy's slow wits. Chan was usually aided but often impatient with his Number One Son.
Cloak & Dagger 1950 Agents of the OSS   This great piece of Espionage Adventure has many of the elements of Crime Fiction. Based on the cases of the OSS, forerunner of the CIA.
Clutching Hand 1936 Professor Craig Kennedy, newspaper reporter Walter Jameson. William Farnum Professor Craig Kennedy uses scientific methods to find the bad guys, and foils the kidnapping of Professor Gironda who has discovered the secret of synthetic Gold
Confession 1953     True crime drama based on the true confessions of real criminals. Show features dramatic recreations of the crimes.
Crime & Peter Chambers 1954 Palyboy detective Peter Chambers Dane Clark & Bill Zuckert Playboy detective with an eye for crime-solving and a taste for women.
Crime Classics 1953- 1954   Host Thomas Hyland "A series of true crime stories from the records and newspapers of every land, from every time. Your host each week, is Mr. Thomas Hyland- connoisseur of crime, student of violence, and teller of murders."
Crime Club 1946- 1947 The Librarian Raymond E. Johnson A Sort of Book Club on the Air for Crime Books, the stories are Dramatized and introduced by "The Librarian."
Crime Doctor 1940- 1947 Dr. Benjamin Ordway Ray Collins Criminal Phil Morgan suffers amnesia and rebuilds his life as criminologist Dr Benjamin Ordway, who is now a member of the parole board. Each Saturday night the audience tries to guess the one mistake the crok makes which proves his guilt.
Crime Does Not Pay 1949- 1951   Bela Lugosi, Everett Sloane, Ed Begley, John Loder and Lionel Stander. Anthology based on MGM short film series. Mostly B-List Hollywood actors, but occasional big names. The show tried to take high morale tone to direct away from sensationalism.
Damon Runyan Theater 1948 - 1950s "Broadway", side kick and narrator John Brown, Others The world of Damon Runyon is peppered with Gangsters and their Molls. The seamy underbelly of the Big Apple is given delicate treatment; Crime may not pay, but the cliche's and humor work well.
Dan Dunn, Secret Operative #48 1934 Dan Dunn   Hard Nosed, no-nonsense detective in the Dick Tracy mold: Dan Dunn sets out to foil spies and other international bad guys
Danger Dr Danfield 1946- 1947 Doctor Dan Danfield, and his secretary Miss Rusty Fairfax Michael Dunne Dr Dan Danfield is a Criminal Psychiatrist who winds up wrapped up involved in the cases he studies. He also pointedly ignores the advances of his pretty secretary, Miss Rusty Fairfax.
Danger with Granger late 1950s Private Eye Steve Granger, reporter Cal Hendrix, and Police Detective Jake Rankin   Hard Boiled NY P.I. Steve Granger is a predictable but enjoyable Detective show, filled with the typical cliches.
Dangerous Assignment 1949- 1953 Steve Mitchell, international operative Brian Donlevy Cold War Spy Drama, a kind of precursor to James Bond.
David Harding Counterspy! 1942- 1950 David Harding Don MacLaughlin The Counter-Spies are a fictional department of the government which investigates all reports of Espionage. Plots stretch from WWII Nazis and Japs to Cold War trouble makers.
Defense Attorney 1951- 1952 Defense Attorney Martha Ellis Bryant Mercedes McCambridge Hard hitting crime drama, with a distinctive feminine touch
Detectives Black and Blue 1933- 1935 Jim Black and Frank Blue   A pair of Duluth shipping clerks get involved in the Detective Racket, and solve crimes with more dumb luck than smarts or hard boiled bravado.
Diamond Dramas 1940s     Stories of thievery, smuggling, and skulduggery, around and about diamonds.
Dick Tracy 1934- 1948 Dick Tracy, sidekick Pat Patton, and Tracy's investigative team Junior Tracy and Tess Trueheart   Comic Page detective brought to radio
Did Justice Triumph 1947     True crime procedural show emphasizes the hard work and diligence of police. Many exciting twists and turns.
Douglas of the World 1953 Brad Douglas, Foreign Correspondent Jack Moyles Roving reporter Brad Douglas gets involved in scrapes that involve the Cold War era United Nations.
Dr Tim Detective 1948 Dr Tim   Dr. Tim combines medical knowledge and forensic science to help his friends and neighbors.
Dragnet 1949- 1957 Sgt Joe Friday Jack Webb One of the original police procedural dramas, Dragnet brings us the drudgery and boredom of police work with the heroism and bravery.
Epic Casebook 1950- 1977 Inspector Carr Hugh Rouse Long Running South African detective drama
Falcon 1943- 1953 "The Falcon", Michael Waring   In each show The Falcon's office is called by a beautiful woman which leads the Hardboiled Detective into situations of danger, comedy, and romance.
Fat Man 1946- 1951 Brad Runyan Jack Scott Smart Based on a character created by Dashiel Hammett, 237 pound Brad Runyon is a tough, world-weary private eye. Despite his girth he does well with the ladies.
FBI In War and Peace 1944- 1955 Field Agent Sheppard Martin Blaine The crime-busting series was not blessed with the actual bureau's approval like This Is Your FBI, but the unauthorized stories remained extremely popula
Federal Agent 1944     Federal Agent features dramatization stories of federal crime fighting from around the world.
Frank Merriwell 1946- 1949 Frank Merriwell   The series follows Frank Merriwell, the Yale-attending brainy-brawny all-American youth, on a series of crime-fighting adventures
Front Page Farrell 1941- 1954 David Farrell, and Sally Farrell, David's office-romance-turned-wife. Richard Widmark, Carleton Young, Florence Williams, Virginia Dwyer The Farrell's solve mysteries and get stories for a New York newspaper. During WWII many of the themes for the show are provided by the Office of War Inforrnation.
Gangbusters 1935- 1957 Phillips H. Lord (host, director)   Billed as "the only national program that brings you authentic police case histories." 
Ghost Corp 1930s K.C. Smith   Serial of international intrigue set in the Middle East filled with bazaars, mosques, and oriental palaces. Smith does what ever it will takes to bring down the local war lords.
Green Hornet 1936- 1952 Britt Reid, "The Green Hornet" and his driver, Kato Al Hodge, Raymond Toyo A mild mannered Newspaper owner by day, Britt Reid becomes the masked Green Hornet at night to fight crime.
Green Lama 1949 Jethro Dumont, otherwise known as the Green Lama. Paul Frees Weathy American Jethro Dumont has studied in mysterious Tibet, and now fights crime using his new powers.
Hashknife Hartley and Sleepy Stevens 1950     A pair of wandering cowboys who end up solving mysteries on the ranches where they work.

Hercule Poirot

1945- 1947 Hercule Poirot Harold Huber Based on the detective character created by Agatha Christie
Hiden Truth   Leonarde Keeler Hart Mcguire South African Drama based on the work of Leonard Keeler, inventor of the polygraph Lie Detector
Honor the Law 1938     These are short stories of police work and bravery focusing on big cases and big busts, but also the interpersonal relationships between officers.
I Deal in Crime 1946 Ross Dolan William Gargan Hardboiled detective returns from the Navy to his threadbare office with all the cliches the private eye business needs. Dolan finds plenty of jealousy and deceit, along with plenty of the rough stuff.
I Love a Mystery 1939- 1953 A-1 Detective Agency Jack Packard, Doc Long, and Englishman Reggie Yorke,   Well done and light hearted detective stories by Carlton Morse, based loosely on the Three Musketeers.
I Was a Communist for the FBI 1952- 1954 Matt Cvetic Dana Andrews A dramatization of Cvetics life during the time he infiltrated the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA). In real life, Cvetic lost everything he loved--his wife, children, parents, friends--except for his country and love for that country is what kept him going.
In the Name of the Law 1936     Thrilling stories taken from actual police case files.
Incredible But True     Ken Nordine (narrator) A series of FourMinute Mystery Tales, all "Incredible but True!"
Indictment 1956- 1959 Edward McCormick, ADA Nat Polen Courtroom Drama based on the files of former assistant District Attorney Eleazer Lipsky,
Inspector Hearthstone of the Death Squad 1951- 1952 Inspector Hearthstone Alfred Shirley Hearthstone is a Holmes-esque sleuth who always gets his man.
Inspector Thorne 1951 Inspector Thorne, Police Sgt. Muggio. Karl Webber, Danny Ocko Inspector Thorne is a young investigator in homicide bureau featuring crimes with murder Murder MURDER!
Intrigue 1946   Joseph Schildkraut "Tales of espionage, manhunts and high adventure"
Its a Crime Mr Collins 1956 Greg Collins, and his wife, Gail Mandel Kramer, Gail Collins, Richard Denning Greg Collins is a famous San Francisco Private Eye, the stories are narrated by his wife Gail Collins (played by Gail Collins) who describes them to Uncle Jack.The couple travels the world so he can solve mysteries and she can keep him out of trouble.
Jeff Regan Investigator 1948- 1950 Jeff Regan Jack Webb Jeff Regan was the gum shoe played by Jack Webb between Pat Novak and St Joe Friday. Imagine Pat Novak moving from San Francisco to Friday's Los Angeles.
Johnny Modero Pier 23 1947 Johnny Modero Jack Webb Johnny Modero runs a boat shop on the San Francisco Waterfront, and will do what ever it takes to make a buck, usually solving mysteries. Modero has as big a chip on his shoulder as big as Pat Novak.
Junior G-Men 1936 Melvin Purvis Melvin Purvis FBI man Melvin Purvis hosts this show of true FBI adventures for kids. His motto was "It's easier to build boys than to mend men."
Kitty Keene 1937- 1941 Kitty Keene Beverly Younger Kitty Keene, a former Ziegfeld Follies' showgirl, solved crime with an equal amount of toughness and sex appeal.
Leonidas Witherall (Adventures of) 1944- 1945 Leonidas Witherall Walter Hampden Leonidas Witherall is a school teacher who writes mysteries and solves mysteries in his spare time.
Let George Do It 1946- 1954 George Valentine, and his secretary, Claire Brooks Bob Bailey George Valentine gets his jobs from an ad in the paper, and spends a good deal of time in romantic banter with his secretary Claire Brooks
Life in Your Hands 1949- 1952 Jonathan Kegg   "Friend of the Court" Jonathon Kegg represents neither the defense nor the prosecution. He is just a man who is seeking the truth behind these shrouded cases. From the pen of Earl Stanley Gardner, creator of Perry Mason.
Lineup 1950- 1953 Lt. Ben Guthrie, Sgt. Matt Grebb Bill Johnstone, Joseph Kearns, Wally Maher Very Realistic police procedural drama that rode the tails of Dragnet emphasizing reality. The writer and producer often rode with the cops to get story ideas.
Man Called X 1944- 1948, 1950- 1952 Ken Thurston, Intelligence Agent and "sidekick" Pagon. Herbert Marshall, Leon Belasco Ken Thurston hops around the world in this early Cold War Spy drama
Man from Homocide early 1950s Lieutenant Lou Dana Dan Duryea and Charles McGraw. Man from Homocide brought audiences gritty stories, seedy criminals, sordid crimes and an outline of police procedure infused with drama.
Mandrake the Magician 1940- 1942 Mandrake, Tommy, Jimmy, Prince Lothar, the beautiful Cockaigne Princess Narda.   Mandrake the Magician and hero to all saves the day from Mobsters and evil villains named Barracuda
Manhunt 1946     Manhunt chronicles a murder and manhunt from the point of view of police officers, witnesses, and more in a quarter-hour format.
Martin Kane Private Eye 1949- 1952 Martin Kane William Gargan Martin Kane is a smooth New York private eye with a nose for crime. The show went to NBC TV where Kane became TV's first Private Eye.
Matthew Slade PI   Matthew Slade, and his secretary, Lorretta Jones William Wintersol, Sylvia Wheeler Broadcast on AFRS's "Starlight Mystery Theater", Matthew Slade is a San Francisco PI who drives a Continental and exchanges banter with Jonesy, his secretary.
Michael Shayne 1944- 1953 Mike Shayne Wally Maher, Jeff Chandler Michael Shayne blows into Miami after WWII, and loses himself in the gritty world of the Hard Boiled Detective after his wife is tragically murdered.
Mr and Mrs North 1942- 1954 Pam and Jerry North Alice Frost and Joseph Curtin, Richard Denning and Barbara Britton The Norths are not professional Detectives, just an ordinary couple who seem to run across a murder every week or so...
Mr Chameleon 1948- 1953 Mr. Chameleon and slow witted sidekick, Dave Arnold Karl Swenson, Frank Butler A winning combination of murder, millionaires, and mayhem. Mr. Chameleon, a master of disguise, changes his appearance every episode to track down the murderer.
Mr District Attorney 1939- 1952 Mr DA, Voice of the Law, and Edith Miller, the district attorney's faithful secretary   The show was very realistic thanks to its creator, former attorney Ed Byron. Byron was a close student of criminology and friend to many underworld types. After 1944 Mr DA began chasing Nazi spies, and often found them before the real life FBI.
Mr Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons 1937- 1955 Mr. Keen, and working-class heavy, Mike Clancy. Bennett Kilpack, Jim Kelly Classic intellectual softboiled detective from the Hummert Radio Factory
Mr Moto early 1950s I.A. Moto James Monk Much different from the Peter Lorre character in the 1930s movies, old time radio's Mr Moto was born in San Francisco and is an International Agent in these Cold War Stories.
Murder at Midnight 1946- 1950 host was Raymond Morgan Host Raymond Morgan Thriller/Horror Anthology
Murder By Experts 1949- 1951 Hosts: John Dickson Carr and Brett Halliday   Each week the host presents a famous mystery writer, an Expert, who gives us one of their favorite stories.
Murder Clinic 1942- 1943     "Murder Clinic. Stories of the world's greatest detectives and men against murder. Each week at this time, WOR-Mutual turns the spotlight on one of the world's greatest detectives of fiction and invites you to listen to the story of his most exciting case."
Mystery is My Hobby 1947- 1948 Barton Drake Glen Langan Berton Drake is a successful Mystery Writer who makes a hobby of solving murders in real life.
Nero Wolfe 1943- 1951 Nero Wolfe, Archie Goodwin Sidney Greenstreet, Gerald Mohr, Others Nero Wolfe is the fattest and laziest Detective on the radio, and also on of the most intelligent. His leg-man is the charming Archie Goodwin.
Nick Carter 1943- 1955 Nick Carter, Nick's assistant, Patsy Bowen, Sgt. Masterson, reporter Scubby Wilson Lon Clark, Helen Choate, Ed Latimer. John Kane Nick Carter stories first appeared a year before Sherlock Holmes, making Carter the American Sherlock Holmes." Carter has a pretty assistant, Patsy, in place of Dr Watson. He was very popular in pulps and dime novels, as well as on radio.
Nick Harris Detective 1934- 1940's Nick Harris   Based on the adventures of real life private eye turned police detective, Nick Harris
Night Editor 1934- 1948 The NightEditor Hal Burdick Master of voices, Burdick played all characters in the program, telling varied and interesting stories of war, adventure, crime, and an occasional ghost story.
Nightbeat Early 1950's Randy Stone Frank Lovejoy Frank Lovejoy stars as Randy Stone, a toughened, street-wise Chicago Star reporter working the Nightbeat in the early 1950s.
Nightwatch 1954- 1955   Donn Reed (police recorder) Nightwatch follows a reporter and his pursuit to vivify the stories of the brave men of the Culver City (near Los Angeles) Police department as he rides along with them on their patrols
Official Detective 1950s Detective Lieutenant Dan Britt, Sergeant Al Bowen Craig McDonnell, Tommy Evans Realistic Police drama in the tradition of Dragnet
Pat Novak for Hire 1946- 1949 Pat Novak, Inspector Hellman Jack Webb, Raymond Burr Jack Webb's earliest Crime Drama success, Pat Novak is a tough guy who works on the San Francisco waterfront. He throws hard-boiled remarks around like they were kleenex.
Perry Mason 1943- 1955 Perry Mason, Della Street Bartlett Robinson, Santos Ortega, Donald Briggs, and John Larkin Based on the novels of Earl Stanley Gardner, Perry Mason was more physical on the radio than on TV
Pete Kelly's Blues summer of 1951 Pete Kelley Jack Webb Pete Kelly is a jazz man who gets involved with all sorts of underworld low-lifes. All he wants to do is play his horn, but the scum has to be dealt with. Filled with Jack Webb tough-guy dialog.
Philip Marlowe 1947- 1951 Philip Marlowe Van Heflin, Gerald Mohr Philip Marlowe was like many hardboiled detectives at the time, he could take a punch to the face and still have a stinging comeback. He was also morally upright, liked classical music and played chess.
Philo Vance 1945- 1950 Philo Vance John Emery, Jose Ferrer, Jackson Beck Vance is "An aristocrat by birth and instinct, he held himself severely aloof from the common world of men. In his manner there was an indefinable contempt for inferiority of all kinds."
Phyl Coe Mysteries 1936 Phyllis Coe, Tom Taylor Bud Collyer, Peggy Allenby Phyllis Coe and her companion, journalist Tom Taylor, solve mysteries under the sponsorship of Philco Radios
Police Headquarter 1932     This is an very early syndicated production of 15 minute crime dramas
Police Reporter 1935     True crime stories from through out history, up to modern times.
Pursuit 1949- 1951 Inspector Peter Black of Scotland Yard Ted De Corsica, John Dehner, Ben Wright "PURSUIT! A criminal strikes and fades quickly back into the shadow of his own dark world... and then, the man from Scotland Yard, the famous Inspector Peter Black, and the relentless, dangerous pursuit... When man hunts man!"
Raffles 1942- 1943 A. J. Raffles, London's man of mystery Neil Hamilton Raffles is a reformed "Cracksman", or safe cracker, who works with Scotland Yard
Results Inc 1944 Johnny Strange Lloyd Nolan A funny farce, Results Inc. stars Lloyd Nolan as Johnny Strange in this rare series.
Rex Saunders 1951 Rex Saunders, sidekick Alex Rex Harrison The weekly stories of "intrigue and adventure" are classic tales of thugs and questionable strangers, with Saunder's alert eyes and mind seeing ahead of the perfunctory Alex.
Richard Diamond, Private Detective 1949-1953 Richard Diamond Dick Powell Richard Diamond, though humorous and fun detective show, dealt with tough issue like murder and mystery. The hero usually winds up singing to his girl friend at some point in the show.
Ripleys Belive It or Not 1930- 1948 Robert Ripley Robert Ripley Globe trotting Robert Ripley brings back strange and unusual customs, facts, people, and events that you can belive, or not!
Rocky Fortune 1953- 1954 Rocky Fortune but whose real name is Rocko Fortunato Frank Sinatra Old Blue Eyes plays a smart mouthed young man who is always getting into scrapes. Not a detective, but he often has to go up against bad men and gangsters to get what he needs.
Rocky Jordan 1945- 1953 Rocky Jordan, Sam Sabaaya Jack Moyles, George Raft, Jay Novello Rocky Jordan owns a gin-joint in exotic Cairo, and runs across murderers, thieves, scoundrels, scallywags, ex-Nazis, and countless beautiful dames who got him into trouble. He generally gets along with the local law, Sam Sabaaya.
Rogues Gallery 1945 Richard Rogue, Eugor Dick Powell, Barry Sullivan, Paul Stewart Rogue was everything a shamus should be, tough, strong, dashing, and funny, when he gets knocked out in each episode, his alter ego, Eugor, shows up.
Saint 1947- 1951 Simon Templar, AKA "The Saint" Vincent Price The Saint's crime fighting is sophisticated. He's usually sharp enough to stick to slinging witty words like arrows, since he's the "Robin Hood of Modern Crime", but sometimes thugs want their slugs.
Salute to Law 1939- 1940 Nick Harris   A crime and police drama a la Dragnet and Calling all Cars, A Salute to Law features Nick Harris catching those who are guilty of "the folly of committing crime."Slightly different in tone to the aforementioned series
Sam Spade 1946- 1951 Sam Spade, Effie Perrine Howard Duff, Lurene Tuttle Sam Spade first appeared in the novel The Maltese Falcon. He is considered the inspiration for all the Hard Boiled Detectives that followed. The Radio Character was generally lighter spirited than the novel or movie portrayals.
Secret Agent K7 Returns 1939 K-7, Agent Z Walter Pigeon The stories are drawn from the headlines and fears of 1939
Secret Missions 1949 Vice Admiral Ellis M. Zacharias   Stories from the files of the office of Naval Intelligence.
Secrets of Scotland Yard 1949- 1951   Clive Brook Interesting cases from the files of Scotland Yard
Shadow of Fu Manchu 1939- 1940 Colonial Commissioner Denis Nayland Smith, Dr. John Petrie. Hanley Stanford, Gale Gordon Colonial Commissioner Denis Nayland Smith and his assistant Dr. John Petrie do all they can to foil the plans of the evil Dr. Fu Manchu, one of the earliestYellow Peril Villains.
Sherlock Holmes 1930- 56 Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson   Sherlock Holmes episodes on radio are often dismissed, as are the many films. Yet for his fans and all lovers of mystery, the swirling London fogs, murder most foul, odd villains and an upper class becoming modern as London's denizens struggle in pitiful poverty means "the game is afoot!"
Shorty Bell Cub Reporter 1948 Shorty Bell Mickey Rooney Shorty Bell was a boisterous cocky fellow who wanted to break into the newspaper game.
Silent Men 1951- 1952   Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Douglas Fairbanks Jr, who had been a commando during the WWII, stars in these stories about Special Agents of all branches of the Federal Government, who daily risk their lives to protect the lives of all of us.
Softboiled Detectives        
Spy Catcher   Lieutenant Oreste Cornel Pinto Bernard Archard Working for Allied Counter Intelligence, Lt Pinto uses all his tricks to find Nazi Spies.
Squad Cars       South African Police Procedural Drama
Standby for Crime 1953 Chuck Morgan and Carol Curtis (his secretary Glenn Langan, Adele Jergens Chuck Morgan is a news reporter for KOP Radio in LA, and winds up solving the crimes he reports.
Strange Wills 1946- 1947 Probate Lawyer, John Francis O'Connell Warren Williams An investigation into the strange things that people write into their wills, and the search for their heirs.
Suspense 1940- 1962     Suspense was dedicated to the excellent script in which a normal person becomes involved in a situation that becomes beyond control. As the intro said, "We invite you to enjoy stories that keep you in .... SUSPENSE!
Suspicion 1935     Mysterious stories of murdered actresses, affairs, rumbles, traitors, and dead bodies found. Listen each week to this early mystery-drama for the hidden clue and see if you can solve the mystery before they do!
T Man 1950   Gordon Glenwright Follow the old time radio adventures of federal agents who protect the honest taxpayers from thugs, thieves, and "Mr Smartypants."
Tales of Fatima 1949   Basil Rathbone Basil Rathbone solves Mysteries while plugging Fatima Cigarettes.
Tales of the Foreign Service 1946     Tales of the Foreign Service dramatizes true tales of those who have served in the foreign service.
Tales of the Texas Rangers 1950- 1952 Texas Ranger Jayce Pearson Joel McCrea The Rangers use modern forensic science and frontier toughness to get the bad guys.
That Hammer Guy, Mickey Spillane Mysteries mid-1950's Mike Hammer Larry Haines Mike Hammer-the ever entertaining handsome, violent, hard-boiled private eye.
That Strong Guy 1955 Steve Strong   Mean streets have a way of bringing out the hard line and quick reaction, and Steve Strong is up to the challenge.
The Black Book & The Man in Black 1951-1952   Paul Frees Thrilling tales featuring Paul Frees, "The Man with a Thousand Voices", playing all the roles.
The Chase 1952-1953     When the detective figures out whodunit, the bad guy isn't always waiting for the cops to take him away. The Chase is all about pursuit.
Thin Man 1941- 1950 Nick and Nora Charles Claudia Morgan; Les Daman, Les Tremayne and David Gothard Former Detective Nick Charles would rather spend his days drinking with his socialite wit]fe Nora, but mystery manages to find the couple every week.
This Is Your FBI 1945- 53 Agent Jim Taylor, others   These were fact-based dramas that told the story of FBI cases from the agent's point of view.
Thrills of the Highway Patrol Early 1930s     Listen to stories of the California Highway Patrol and their adventures
Top Secret Summer 1950 Baroness Karen Gazer Ilona Massey Transcribed dramas of International intrigue and espionage before and during World War II.
Topper 1945 Cosmo Topper Roland Young Cosmo Topper is haunted by two fun-loving-past-friends-now-spirits, George and Marion.
True Detective Mysteries 1929- 30     True Detective Mysteries were truly audience participation shows - each show provided descriptions of the true-story criminal and encouraged audiences to provide information leading to their capture.
Twenty First Precinct 1953- 1956 Captain Frank Kennelly Everett Sloane Set in New York, 21st Precinct focuses on a specific police unit. It is action packed from the start of the show.
Unexpected 1948     Anthology of 15 minute weird stories which have an ending twist.
Unit 99 1957- 1958 Sergeant Dan Meredith   Sacramento Police Sergeant carries a tape recorder in his patrol car and into the station to make this police show.
Unsolved Mysteries 1949   Stanley Peyton Unsolved Mysteries tell stories of unexplained true happenings, voodoo, witch doctors of Africa, double murders that could never occur in a thousand years, dead men telling tales, and supernatural forces.
Up for Parole 1950     This program is based on authentic cases heard by our parole boys in state prisons. Cases are pleaded before you, the listener, and the parole board.
Walk Softly Peter Troy 1963- 1964   Tom Meehan, John Simpson, and Merle Wayne. Hard Boiled, Noir type London Detective stories produced in South Africa.
Wanted 1950     The program gives a history of the crime and a description of the criminal. Included in this program are some of the FBI Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives.
Whitehall 1212 1951- 1952 Chief Inspector John Davison,   Wylis Cooper drama based on the artifacts found in Scotland Yard's Black Museum
You Are the Jury       In each episode the listener is asked to be the jury and guess the verdict in a murder trail. All evidence is presented in dramatic fashion and the verdict is withheld until the next episode.
Yours Truly Johnny Dollar 1948- 1962 Johnny Dollar Dick Powell, Charles Russell, Edmond O'Brien, John Lund, Gerald Mohr, Bob Bailey, Bob Readick, Mandel Kramer Johnny Dollar is an insurance investigator for claims against several large insurance companies. The stories are based on his expense accounts, which leaves out no entertaining details.

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These old time radio detective shows take me back to the 40's and 50's and it is so great to listen to them as it is just like being in a time machine. I recommend them to anyone who loves a mystery.


Could you put together an mp3 collection that compiles 2-4 programs from every one of the detective programs you identify? I would take advantage of your research to add the compilation to my collection. Your commentaries on each program should be included with the collection. If you can do this, at least for me, please email me yes or no. Thanks for your assistance. Dennis Tivel.


Thanks for your comment, Dennis. RE: compilation with individual episodes of Detectives shows, the DETECTIVE COLLECTION may be what you had in mind which has a single episodes from all different detective radio shows. RE: Printing, The website is formatted with a PRINT button on the top right of any collection so you can print any synopsis or episode list (or you can also always visit the website 24 hours a day which is fully searchable).


What was the crime show that started out with the sound of prisoners marching?

Phillip Holloway

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