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Recommended Series for First Time Listeners

There is so much variety to the world of Old Time Radio, it is hard to know where to get started. The truth is there are so many excellent radio shows in OTR, almost anything you pick out will delight you.


The great thing about enjoying OTR today is that there are so many ways and places you can enjoy it. For many of us, nothing that makes a commute enjoyable like following an exciting adventure serial program. At the end, of the day it helps to remove the stress of the work day by trying to solve a mystery along with a hard boiled detective during the drive home. Time spent working in front of the computer flies by when listening to the songs and jokes of a variety show. With a good set of noise-reducing earbud speakers attached to our pocket MP3 player or smartphone, some fans are even known to enjoy listening to the cowboys in Western programs while mowing the lawn!

Most of the series and shows are very pleasurable in their own right, but here at OTRCAT.com we feel that knowing a little bit about the actors and the programs make them even more enjoyable. Dip into the articles and program write-ups on OTRCat.com and whet your appetite to know more about these great shows.

Some of our favorite genres and and shows include:

Peter Lorre Headless


These are the late-night shows that make you want to pull the bedsheets up over your eyes!
Most will agree that the most blood-curdling ghost story is even more frightening on radio!

The Whistler
is a collection crime stories where the justice always comes to the villain, but not a way that he or the listeners would expect!

will keep you on the edge of your seat with nearly a thousand episodes of "Radio's Outstanding Theater of Thrills!" with great performances by top Hollywood talent of the time.

Lights Out
Lights Out 
was one of the original late night thrillers with stories written by two of radio's greatest talents, Wyllis Cooper and Arch Oboler

William Conrad

These shows will take our imaginations to the far corners of the world.

features some of the greatest stars Hollywood, Broadway and radio in some great original and adapted stories.

Cloak and Dagger
Cloak and Dagger
is based on true stories of the Operatives of the OSS, predecessor of the CIA.

The Adventures of Superman 
Much of the legend of the original comic book hero was actually developed on the radio.

Fibber McGee and Molly

There can never be enough things for us to laugh at, and Radio brings us some of the best!

Fibber McGee and Molly
is good-hearted fun featuring a well meaning schemer who seems to have never held a steady job and his long suffering but happy wife along with his friends and neighbors.

Jack Benny
Jack Benny Show
is a collection of music and skits built around a character who was everything that the real Jack Benny wasn't, vain, cantankerous, and cheap!

You Bet Your Life
You Bet Your Life,
developed as a sort of game show, the program was really a chance for Groucho Marx to simple be Groucho! 

Dragnet Radio Show

Whether we are following the wits and bravery of hard working policemen and brave private eye,
or pitting our wits against one of the great detective, everyone enjoys crime and detective stories.

starring Jack Webb, is is a series of exciting stories based on true cases of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Texas Rangers
Tales of the Texas Rangers
brings us more true crime stories from the Oldest and Most Well known law enforcement agency in North America.

Johnny Dollar
Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
is the story of an investigator for insurance companies with an "action-packed expense account".

Rita Hayworth on Lux Radio


More serious stories, but still greatly entertaining, our dramasinclude tales from literature, great movies, and even "serial dramas".

Academy Award
Academy Award Theater
adaptations of Hollywood's best movies, all Oscar Winners.

Lux Radio Theater
brought the stories of the best movies to the radio, featuring a full orchestra, and usually the film's original stars performing before a live audience.

Screen Guild Theater
Screen Guild Theater
old time radio anthology featured drama and variety with top-name stars whose salaries from this show.

Sci Fi

Sometimes condemned as "kid stuff", several radio programs treated Sci Fi as serious literature.

Dimension X
Dimension X and X Minus One had stories from the pages of great SciFi magazines and the best and most influential SciFi writers.

Space Patrol
Space Patrol and Buck Rogers was meant for kids, but the space-opera was based on the best scientific knowledge of the time.

Gunsmoke radio show

Some of these are kid shows, and others are serious adult drama, while others are treasures of great country music!

Gunsmoke and Have Gun, Will Travel
were serious drama that never allowed the gritty reality of the rough and tumble West get in the way.

Six Shooter
The Six Shooter
featured the acting talent of the great James Stewart and some of the best written stories of any radio genre.

Melody Ranch
Melody Ranch
featured the music of one of the screen's great singing Cowboys, as well as a story or two of genuine ranch life.

Hear your favorite Old Time Radio ... Now!
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Order and listen to your favorite radio shows TODAY!

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Do you think you might want to consider adding Family Theater and Halls of Ivy to your recommended series? Each one is truly unique) Another idea: some series like Jack Benny lasted for so many years many people might not know where to start. Could you or a Jack Benny fan recommend specific programs, CDs, and even MP3s to help someone get started? Possible something similar for Yours Truly Johnny Dollar.


Absolutely - those are excellent drama series and worth a listen! We do have an extensive collection of Jack Benny (https://www.otrcat.com/p/jack-benny) but also have smaller compilations of "Jack Benny Gags" (https://www.otrcat.com/p/jack-benny-gags) Re: Johnny Dollar, there are over 700 episodes of the man "with an action packed expense account" (https://www.otrcat.com/p/johnny-dollar-yours-truly-johnny-dollar), but we also have a smaller compilation of the VOICES OF JOHNNY DOLLAR featuring the various voice artists who played the role (https://www.otrcat.com/p/voices-of-johnny-dollar).


I grew up reading MAD and listening to Gene Shepard corrupting my mind on a hidden crystal set, listening to his show on WOR, NYC, late in the evening when all GOOD children are SUPPOSED to be asleep. Ah, thank the gods I was naughty. MAD is no more, and Gene went to the bar and grill in the sky to await his friend Flick (FLICK LIVES!), but the recordings Jene left are here. Thankyou.


I was born in 1976. By the time I came along I think it was just CBS Radio Mystery Theatre on syndicated radio stations and I was a little kid so no dice What did it was receiving a Pioneer Inno for Christmas years ago. More or less discontinued by the time I got it, that is a free standing SiriusXM radio that broadcasts to nearby FM radios on a set frequency. Somehow the line up of shows on Radio classics drew me in and I couldn't stop. Suspense, Jack and the gang, X-Minus One, Frontier Fighters and everything in-between became a 24 hour a day thing for me in my early 30s and I can't stop. I don't really want to stop. I've listened so much over these 15 years that now I know what I do and don't like and all that sort of thing. It has been a magical ride that has helped life be worth living and I am in constant appreciation.


Being relatively new to the radio medium, if I had to choose between the hundreds of subjects (Westerns, Drama, Comedy, etc.) it would be the homespun "Mayor of the Town". One of the classiest actors of all time, Lionel Barrymore, (pronounced "Leeunel"), who came from the famous family trio, Ethel and John, is the star and in his fashion, is second to none. His distinct voice and at times grumbling mannerisms are distinct such as in "Grand Hotel," Andy Hardy's first father, Ebenezer Scrooge, and so on. The stories are very heartwarming and it is always a delight to hear the voice of Agnes Moorehead as his housemaid and when he gets together with the judge to play checkers, the listener should always be ready for the subtle jabs that go back and forth. The series reminds me of the "Andy Griffith" show with its storylines, but again, in my opinion, nobody can beat Barrymore, either on the stage or on the microphone. Thank you very much for hours and hours of listening pleasure.


I am 68 now and grew up in Hartford Connecticut. Our AM station was the 50,000 watt WTIC station. My Dad and I used to listen to the only radio drama still on the air then it was " THE SHADOW KNOWS". I think that was on the air into the 1960s and then went away. I used to try to find recorded stories in LP records or then cassette tapes to listen to eventually I gave up looking. Then several years ago I found your site what a great surprise! Love your stuff and the work you do... I am retired now and will be getting more titles to fill in my free time. Radio was a great thing because you can work at something and still listen to a good story or other program. Thanks for what you do.


Years ago I purchased several discs from otrcat, but had forgotten I had them after moving 3 times since buying them. I found the discs and looked again for the site and was happy to see it not only still was around, but had expanded greatly in shows it carried. ... I still have the ones I purchased back then and enjoy them every time. The largest set of shows I bought (and just ordered ones that had been ruined a second time) was the CBS Radio Mystery Theater. I had grown up listening to them on the radio in the 70s and can never get enough of them.


I can’t remember when I didn’t like OTR, from the time I was a child back in the early forties til the present. Wherever I lived I attempted to find radio stations that played OTR recordings of Box 13, Straight Shooter, Mr. District Attorney, etc. Can’t explain how happy I was to discover your website. My favorites are the OTR Samplers, that have a variety of programs, they feature some shows that I had forgotten with the passage of time and others I didn’t know, at all, and, of course, old favorites. As Bob Hope would say “Thanks for the memories “


Had the luck of being young enough to listen to most of the GAR programs. Some I missed but being in AFRTS for bulk of military career, I played many to the programs on-air. War story - One location overseas was very windy and the Quonset studio not very dust proof we had to wipe off the 16" discs with a damp sponge prior playing. Much quieter. Today, I get to hear some programs again on local stations playing OTR. Did not see any reference to "Coast to Coast on a Bus", may have been local NYC area - name Nila Mack comes to mind. Kids pgm.


I was a first-time listener in early 2018. I purchased the Andrew Sisters, Martin and Lewis, Danny Kaye, Perry Como, John Wayne, and a few others. Since then I have purchased and enjoyed Big Band, Comedy, Drama, Movies, Radio Series, and the personalities like Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and many others. I was born right after most of the radio programs were going off the air (1959) but I have enjoyed watching the old movies, shows, and listening to all the music. I was glad that I found this website. If I was to recommend something to a first-time listener, I would ask what genre they like the most then have them look through what radio programs are available and I would bet they would be hooked on the rest. Thank you so much and you have a customer for life. Merry Christmas and God Bless.


Grand Central Station


Thank you for offering radio programs that I listen to in 40s and 50s. I was born in 1936…

John danko

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