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The Radio City Playhouse

A relative late-comer to the Radio Anthology genre, Radio City Playhouse set new standards of quality for radio anthologies. By the late 1940’s, the center of radio network production had moved to the West Coast, but there was still a lot of talent in New York to be featured on the anthology Radio City Playhouse.

69 old time radio show recordings
(total playtime 33 hours, 16 min)
available in the following formats:

2 MP3 CDs
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35 Audio CDs


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Play a sample episode from April 25, 1949:

"Witness For The Prosecution"



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Text on OTRCAT.com ©2001-2020 OTRCAT INC All Rights Reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.

Dramatic anthology (1948 - 50)

old time radio picture

One thing Radio broadcasters did better than artists in any other medium, with the possible exception of print, was to present anthology collections. There were Repertory Companies in live theater where the company would produce several plays each season. This would keep the audience engaged over several productions, and the players would often share exposure by taking supporting roles in a few shows and be given an opportunity to star in one or two. The challenge was learning several different parts, and the company had to build and store different sets and costumes for each play in that season's repertoire.

Radio writers and Sound Effects Technicians were able to create a sense of place and character without sets or costumes. Acting on the radio made different demands on actors, as well. The radio actor had only his voice to convey a character, he could not depend on costumes, makeup, or even body language. Rehearsals for radio plays were also less intensive. The blocking or the actor's movements on stage were not an issue. They had to be familiar enough with the material to know when their cues were coming, but the actors didn't even have to learn their lines, they could read from the scripts they held in their hands. 

Anthology programs are possible on Television, but they faced some significant limitations there, as well. A Star actor generally had to be used once then replaced in the next week's episode or become the leading player in the entire series. Not only were actor repetitions unwelcome in TV anthologies, new sets and costumes had to be used in each episode.

In the late Forties and early Fifties, TV broadcasting technology was still primitive enough that it could not match the production quality of a radio play, anyway. Also, by this point, most serious radio production had moved to the networks' West Coast facilities where they could take advantage of the name recognition of Hollywood talent. There was still a deep talent pool in New York City, and that was where the networks were still headquartered.

NBCThe Radio City Playhouse, which broadcast from NBC's New York Studios in Rockefeller Square, was a late-comer to the anthology genre but quickly established itself for doing things its own way and doing them very well. Harry W. Junkin directed and wrote several of the scripts, and Richard McDonagh was overall in charge of production. While other radio anthologies took stories from a certain type of source, such as literature, stage plays, or movies, or produced stories from a certain theme or genre like horror, science fiction, romance, Western, mystery, or adventure, Radio City Playhouse was willing to use a story from anywhere, as long as it was "good".

The first episode, "Long Distance", broadcast on July 3, 1948, and starring Jan Miner, portrays the frustration of a young wife trying to get a long-distance phone call through to California in time to save her husband from being executed in the electric chair. The episode is often favorably compared with Agnes Moorehead's performance in "Sorry, Wrong Number" on CBS's Suspense.

Stories could be thrillers, farces, tales of the supernatural, boy-meets-girl romances, or a morality tale. The series was limited to three seasons, from July 1948 to January 1950, partially due to increasing competition for TV and also because the show was sustained for its entire run, never picking up a sponsor.

These half-hours of drama and sometimes comedy were often very exciting and suspenseful. The cast was very good New York veterans of radio and stage, including Jan Minor and John Larkin as featured performers. The director, Harry W. Junkin, also served as the show's host and narrator. Each week the show introduced a new story, often written by well-known writers of fantasy and suspense such as Ray Bradbury, Cornell Woolrich, Agatha Christie and Paul Gallico. They were dramatized with a full orchestral soundtrack and excellent sound effects.

Although overshadowed by the earlier classics of anthology such as the Lux Radio Theater, the Radio City Playhouse is fondly remembered for its solid dramatic content, and quality radio acting. One of the dramas, "Long Distance," starred Jan Minor as a distraught wife trying to reach a judge on the West Coast to sign an immediate stay of execution that will take her innocent husband's life in a matter of hours. That show is considered as a classic that ranks with Lucille Fletcher's "Sorry, Wrong Number," starring Agnes Moorehead of Suspense fame.

For more dramatic anthologies, please see Lux Radio Theater, Mercury Theater and Campbell Playhouse (separately, or in the Orson Welles collection.)  For anthologies of well-known suspense tales, you should see Escape and Suspense.

Text on OTRCAT.com ©2001-2020 OTRCAT INC All Rights Reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.

These classic recordings are available in the following formats:

  • Show Rating

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    COMMENTS

    Driving Me Crazy Dept.: What is the name of the well-known theme music for "Radio City Playhouse"? (It was a big hit on pop radio back in the Fifties or Sixties.)

    Shelley

    Shangri-La (1946) by Carl Sigman (lyricist), Matt Malneck, and Robert Maxwell.

    Stephen Verified Purchase

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  • MP3 CDs are delivered by mail. These archival quality MP3 CDs are playable in your computer and many MP3 player devices.



    69 recordings on 2 MP3 CDs for just $10.00
    total playtime 33 hours, 16 min
    Add MP3 CD Collection to Cart

    Click here to see disc contents


    Volume 1 - 30 shows - total playtime 14 hours 36 minutes
    MP3 CD
    Volume 1: 5.00
    Add To Cart
    1. Radio City Playhouse 480703 A01 Long Distance.mp3
    2. Radio City Playhouse 480710 A02 Ground Floor Window.mp3
    3. Radio City Playhouse 480717 A03 Of Unsound Mind.mp3
    4. Radio City Playhouse 480731 A04 Whistle Daughter Whistle.mp3
    5. Radio City Playhouse 480807 A05 Special Delivery.mp3
    6. Radio City Playhouse 480814 A06 Hit And Run.mp3
    7. Radio City Playhouse 480821 A07 Fanny.mp3
    8. Radio City Playhouse 480823 A08 Long Distance.mp3
    9. Radio City Playhouse 480830 A09 Betrayal.mp3
    10. Radio City Playhouse 480906 A10 King Of Moon.mp3
    11. Radio City Playhouse 480911 A11 Mother.mp3
    12. Radio City Playhouse 480918 A12 Soundless.mp3
    13. Radio City Playhouse 480925 A13 Dark Hour.mp3
    14. Radio City Playhouse 481109 A14 Promise.mp3
    15. Radio City Playhouse 481115 A15 First And Last.mp3
    16. Radio City Playhouse 481129 A17 Temporarily Purple.mp3
    17. Radio City Playhouse 481206 A18 Five Extra Nooses.mp3
    18. Radio City Playhouse 481213 A19 Heritage Of Wimple Street.mp3
    19. Radio City Playhouse 481220 A20 Three Men.mp3
    20. Radio City Playhouse 481227 A21 Strange Identity.mp3
    21. Radio City Playhouse 490110 A23 Correction.mp3
    22. Radio City Playhouse 490117 A24 Portrait Of Lenore.mp3
    23. Radio City Playhouse 490124 A25 Wisdom Of Eve.mp3
    24. Radio City Playhouse 490207 A26 Machine.mp3
    25. Radio City Playhouse 490214 A27 Elementals.mp3
    26. Radio City Playhouse 490221 A28 One From Three Leaves Two.mp3
    27. Radio City Playhouse 490228 A29 Deadline.mp3
    28. Radio City Playhouse 490307 A30 Two Moods From Past.mp3
    29. Radio City Playhouse 490314 A31 Weather Ahead.mp3
    30. Radio City Playhouse 490321 A32 Blind Vengeance.mp3
    Volume 2 - 39 shows - total playtime 18 hours 40 minutes
    MP3 CD
    Volume 2: 5.00
    Add To Cart
    1. Radio City Playhouse 490328 A33 Luck.mp3
    2. Radio City Playhouse 490404 A34 Wardrobe Trunk.mp3
    3. Radio City Playhouse 490418 A36 Only Unto Him.mp3
    4. Radio City Playhouse 490425 A37 Witness For Prosecuti.mp3
    5. Radio City Playhouse 490502 A38 Hands Of Dr Otermole.mp3
    6. Radio City Playhouse 490509 A39 No Shoes.mp3
    7. Radio City Playhouse 490523 A40 Murder Is Matter Of Opi.mp3
    8. Radio City Playhouse 490530 A41the Promise.mp3
    9. Radio City Playhouse 490606 A42 Note On Danger B.mp3
    10. Radio City Playhouse 490613 A43 How Love Came To Pro Fgui.mp3
    11. Radio City Playhouse 490620 A44 Motive For Murder Q2.mp3
    12. Radio City Playhouse 490627 A45 Legend Of Teresa.mp3
    13. Radio City Playhouse 490630 01 Long Distance Special Repeat.mp3
    14. Radio City Playhouse 490704 A46 Murder Is Easiest Way.mp3
    15. Radio City Playhouse 490714 03 Two Moods Past Special Repeat.mp3
    16. Radio City Playhouse 490721 04 Portrait Lenore Special.mp3
    17. Radio City Playhouse 490725 A49 Birthday Party.mp3
    18. Radio City Playhouse 490801 A50 Tension In 643.mp3
    19. Radio City Playhouse 490804 06 Hit And Run Special Repeat.mp3
    20. Radio City Playhouse 490808 A51 Level Crossing.mp3
    21. Radio City Playhouse 490811 07 Soundless Special Repeat.mp3
    22. Radio City Playhouse 490815 A52 Blackout.mp3
    23. Radio City Playhouse 490818 08 Machine Special Repeat.mp3
    24. Radio City Playhouse 490822 A53 Joey Was Different.mp3
    25. Radio City Playhouse 490829 A54 Unguarded Moment.mp3
    26. Radio City Playhouse 490911 A56 Mother.mp3
    27. Radio City Playhouse 490925 A58 Affliction.mp3
    28. Radio City Playhouse 491009 A60 Plotters.mp3
    29. Radio City Playhouse 491016 A61 Duet.mp3
    30. Radio City Playhouse 491023 A62 Ground Floor Window.mp3
    31. Radio City Playhouse 491030 A63 Thewind.mp3
    32. Radio City Playhouse 491113 A65 Problem Child.mp3
    33. Radio City Playhouse 491120 A66 Deception.mp3
    34. Radio City Playhouse 491127 A67 Interval.mp3
    35. Radio City Playhouse 491204 A68 Local Storm.mp3
    36. Radio City Playhouse 491211 A69 Sibling.mp3
    37. Radio City Playhouse 491218 A70 Wine Of Ora Paula.mp3
    38. Radio City Playhouse 491225 71 Twas Night Before Christmas.mp3
    39. Radio City Playhouse 500101 A72 Reflection.mp3
  • MP3 downloads are available instantly after purchase!



    69 recordings on 2 MP3 Collection Downloads for just $10.00
    total playtime 33 hours, 16 min
    Add MP3 CD Collection to Cart

    Click here to see disc contents


    Volume 1 - 30 shows - total playtime 14 hours 36 minutes
    Instant Download
    Volume 1: $5.00
    Add To Cart
    1. Radio City Playhouse 480703 A01 Long Distance.mp3
    2. Radio City Playhouse 480710 A02 Ground Floor Window.mp3
    3. Radio City Playhouse 480717 A03 Of Unsound Mind.mp3
    4. Radio City Playhouse 480731 A04 Whistle Daughter Whistle.mp3
    5. Radio City Playhouse 480807 A05 Special Delivery.mp3
    6. Radio City Playhouse 480814 A06 Hit And Run.mp3
    7. Radio City Playhouse 480821 A07 Fanny.mp3
    8. Radio City Playhouse 480823 A08 Long Distance.mp3
    9. Radio City Playhouse 480830 A09 Betrayal.mp3
    10. Radio City Playhouse 480906 A10 King Of Moon.mp3
    11. Radio City Playhouse 480911 A11 Mother.mp3
    12. Radio City Playhouse 480918 A12 Soundless.mp3
    13. Radio City Playhouse 480925 A13 Dark Hour.mp3
    14. Radio City Playhouse 481109 A14 Promise.mp3
    15. Radio City Playhouse 481115 A15 First And Last.mp3
    16. Radio City Playhouse 481129 A17 Temporarily Purple.mp3
    17. Radio City Playhouse 481206 A18 Five Extra Nooses.mp3
    18. Radio City Playhouse 481213 A19 Heritage Of Wimple Street.mp3
    19. Radio City Playhouse 481220 A20 Three Men.mp3
    20. Radio City Playhouse 481227 A21 Strange Identity.mp3
    21. Radio City Playhouse 490110 A23 Correction.mp3
    22. Radio City Playhouse 490117 A24 Portrait Of Lenore.mp3
    23. Radio City Playhouse 490124 A25 Wisdom Of Eve.mp3
    24. Radio City Playhouse 490207 A26 Machine.mp3
    25. Radio City Playhouse 490214 A27 Elementals.mp3
    26. Radio City Playhouse 490221 A28 One From Three Leaves Two.mp3
    27. Radio City Playhouse 490228 A29 Deadline.mp3
    28. Radio City Playhouse 490307 A30 Two Moods From Past.mp3
    29. Radio City Playhouse 490314 A31 Weather Ahead.mp3
    30. Radio City Playhouse 490321 A32 Blind Vengeance.mp3
    Volume 2 - 39 shows - total playtime 18 hours 40 minutes
    Instant Download
    Volume 2: $5.00
    Add To Cart
    1. Radio City Playhouse 490328 A33 Luck.mp3
    2. Radio City Playhouse 490404 A34 Wardrobe Trunk.mp3
    3. Radio City Playhouse 490418 A36 Only Unto Him.mp3
    4. Radio City Playhouse 490425 A37 Witness For Prosecuti.mp3
    5. Radio City Playhouse 490502 A38 Hands Of Dr Otermole.mp3
    6. Radio City Playhouse 490509 A39 No Shoes.mp3
    7. Radio City Playhouse 490523 A40 Murder Is Matter Of Opi.mp3
    8. Radio City Playhouse 490530 A41the Promise.mp3
    9. Radio City Playhouse 490606 A42 Note On Danger B.mp3
    10. Radio City Playhouse 490613 A43 How Love Came To Pro Fgui.mp3
    11. Radio City Playhouse 490620 A44 Motive For Murder Q2.mp3
    12. Radio City Playhouse 490627 A45 Legend Of Teresa.mp3
    13. Radio City Playhouse 490630 01 Long Distance Special Repeat.mp3
    14. Radio City Playhouse 490704 A46 Murder Is Easiest Way.mp3
    15. Radio City Playhouse 490714 03 Two Moods Past Special Repeat.mp3
    16. Radio City Playhouse 490721 04 Portrait Lenore Special.mp3
    17. Radio City Playhouse 490725 A49 Birthday Party.mp3
    18. Radio City Playhouse 490801 A50 Tension In 643.mp3
    19. Radio City Playhouse 490804 06 Hit And Run Special Repeat.mp3
    20. Radio City Playhouse 490808 A51 Level Crossing.mp3
    21. Radio City Playhouse 490811 07 Soundless Special Repeat.mp3
    22. Radio City Playhouse 490815 A52 Blackout.mp3
    23. Radio City Playhouse 490818 08 Machine Special Repeat.mp3
    24. Radio City Playhouse 490822 A53 Joey Was Different.mp3
    25. Radio City Playhouse 490829 A54 Unguarded Moment.mp3
    26. Radio City Playhouse 490911 A56 Mother.mp3
    27. Radio City Playhouse 490925 A58 Affliction.mp3
    28. Radio City Playhouse 491009 A60 Plotters.mp3
    29. Radio City Playhouse 491016 A61 Duet.mp3
    30. Radio City Playhouse 491023 A62 Ground Floor Window.mp3
    31. Radio City Playhouse 491030 A63 Thewind.mp3
    32. Radio City Playhouse 491113 A65 Problem Child.mp3
    33. Radio City Playhouse 491120 A66 Deception.mp3
    34. Radio City Playhouse 491127 A67 Interval.mp3
    35. Radio City Playhouse 491204 A68 Local Storm.mp3
    36. Radio City Playhouse 491211 A69 Sibling.mp3
    37. Radio City Playhouse 491218 A70 Wine Of Ora Paula.mp3
    38. Radio City Playhouse 491225 71 Twas Night Before Christmas.mp3
    39. Radio City Playhouse 500101 A72 Reflection.mp3
  • Standard Audio CDs are delivered by mail on archival quality media with up to 60 minutes on each CD and play in all CD players



    69 recordings on 35 Audio CDs
    total playtime 33 hours, 16 min

    Radio City Playhouse Disc A001

    1. Radio City Playhouse 480703 A01 Long Distance
    2. Radio City Playhouse 480710 A02 Ground Floor Window

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A002

    1. Radio City Playhouse 480717 A03 Of Unsound Mind
    2. Radio City Playhouse 480731 A04 Whistle Daughter Whistle

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A003

    1. Radio City Playhouse 480807 A05 Special Delivery
    2. Radio City Playhouse 480814 A06 Hit And Run

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A004

    1. Radio City Playhouse 480821 A07 Fanny
    2. Radio City Playhouse 480823 A08 Long Distance

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A005

    1. Radio City Playhouse 480830 A09 Betrayal
    2. Radio City Playhouse 480906 A10 King Of Moon

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A006

    1. Radio City Playhouse 480911 A11 Mother
    2. Radio City Playhouse 480918 A12 Soundless

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A007

    1. Radio City Playhouse 480925 A13 Dark Hour
    2. Radio City Playhouse 481109 A14 Promise

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A008

    1. Radio City Playhouse 481115 A15 First And Last
    2. Radio City Playhouse 481129 A17 Temporarily Purple

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A009

    1. Radio City Playhouse 481206 A18 Five Extra Nooses
    2. Radio City Playhouse 481213 A19 Heritage Of Wimple Street

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A010

    1. Radio City Playhouse 481220 A20 Three Men
    2. Radio City Playhouse 481227 A21 Strange Identity

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A011

    1. Radio City Playhouse 490110 A23 Correction
    2. Radio City Playhouse 490117 A24 Portrait Of Lenore

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A012

    1. Radio City Playhouse 490124 A25 Wisdom Of Eve
    2. Radio City Playhouse 490207 A26 Machine

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A013

    1. Radio City Playhouse 490214 A27 Elementals
    2. Radio City Playhouse 490221 A28 One From Three Leaves Two

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A014

    1. Radio City Playhouse 490228 A29 Deadline
    2. Radio City Playhouse 490307 A30 Two Moods From Past

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A015

    1. Radio City Playhouse 490314 A31 Weather Ahead
    2. Radio City Playhouse 490321 A32 Blind Vengeance

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A016

    1. Radio City Playhouse 490328 A33 Luck
    2. Radio City Playhouse 490404 A34 Wardrobe Trunk

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A017

    1. Radio City Playhouse 490418 A36 Only Unto Him
    2. Radio City Playhouse 490425 A37 Witness For Prosecuti

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A018

    1. Radio City Playhouse 490502 A38 Hands Of Dr Otermole
    2. Radio City Playhouse 490509 A39 No Shoes

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A019

    1. Radio City Playhouse 490523 A40 Murder Is Matter Of Opi
    2. Radio City Playhouse 490530 A41the Promise

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A020

    1. Radio City Playhouse 490606 A42 Note On Danger B
    2. Radio City Playhouse 490613 A43 How Love Came To Pro Fgui

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A021

    1. Radio City Playhouse 490620 A44 Motive For Murder Q2
    2. Radio City Playhouse 490627 A45 Legend Of Teresa

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A022

    1. Radio City Playhouse 490630 01 Long Distance Special Repeat
    2. Radio City Playhouse 490704 A46 Murder Is Easiest Way

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A023

    1. Radio City Playhouse 490714 03 Two Moods Past Special Repeat
    2. Radio City Playhouse 490721 04 Portrait Lenore Special

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A024

    1. Radio City Playhouse 490725 A49 Birthday Party
    2. Radio City Playhouse 490801 A50 Tension In 643

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A025

    1. Radio City Playhouse 490804 06 Hit And Run Special Repeat
    2. Radio City Playhouse 490808 A51 Level Crossing

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A026

    1. Radio City Playhouse 490811 07 Soundless Special Repeat
    2. Radio City Playhouse 490815 A52 Blackout

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A027

    1. Radio City Playhouse 490818 08 Machine Special Repeat
    2. Radio City Playhouse 490822 A53 Joey Was Different

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A028

    1. Radio City Playhouse 490829 A54 Unguarded Moment
    2. Radio City Playhouse 490911 A56 Mother

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A029

    1. Radio City Playhouse 490925 A58 Affliction
    2. Radio City Playhouse 491009 A60 Plotters

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A030

    1. Radio City Playhouse 491016 A61 Duet
    2. Radio City Playhouse 491023 A62 Ground Floor Window

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A031

    1. Radio City Playhouse 491030 A63 Thewind
    2. Radio City Playhouse 491113 A65 Problem Child

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A032

    1. Radio City Playhouse 491120 A66 Deception
    2. Radio City Playhouse 491127 A67 Interval

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A033

    1. Radio City Playhouse 491204 A68 Local Storm
    2. Radio City Playhouse 491211 A69 Sibling

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A034

    1. Radio City Playhouse 491218 A70 Wine Of Ora Paula
    2. Radio City Playhouse 491225 71 Twas Night Before Christmas

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    Radio City Playhouse Disc A035

    1. Radio City Playhouse 500101 A72 Reflection

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