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Tips from a Fellow OTR Fan Issue 14: Halloween Listening

By Steve Atlas

Old Radio

Hi. My name is Steve Atlas. Like most of you, I am a lover of Old Time Radio (OTR). My problem is there are so many OTR programs that even if I buy a collection, I am not sure which individual programs I would enjoy most. What collections are good choices if you can only pick a few? Do any of you have similar dilemmas?

Then this newsletter is for you. Here, I recommend some of my favorite OTR collections, and a few of my favorite programs, as well as tips and suggestions from other OTR fans.  I hope you too will share some of your favorites with other OTR listeners. I may be recommending a few programs that I have already mentioned, but only if there is a good reason.

Old Time Radio for Halloween

What do you do when you get too old—or your children grow up—to enjoy Trick or Treat? You can relive many scary moments or weird mysteries on Old Time Radio. Unlike television, radio relies on voices and special effects. The suspense and excitement are in your own mind—whatever you can conjure up. Even today, a radio mystery or horror show takes you into another world.

Mysterious Traveler

Here are a few ideas for programs you might enjoy during the Halloween season:

The Mysterious Traveler: Each half hour program takes us on a train ride as our host "The Mysterious Traveler", takes us into a science fiction, fantasy, horror or crime drama program. Many of these can terrify us.  While not a Halloween show, The Mysterious Traveler gives you a chance to escape the everyday world and journey into a world of terror, mystery and the unexpected. Enjoy "The Good Die Young" episode:

Scary SamplerHalloween Scary Shows: This is the best way to enter into the spirit of Halloween. Start by listening to the free episode: "The Earth Abides, Part 1." Told in a matter-of-fact tone by John Dehner, this two-part drama reminded me of War of the Worlds—only this was not a fantasy, but the dramatization of a very scary novel.

This spooktakular collection contains some of the favorite scary shows from Black MuseumDark FantasyEscapeHall of FantasyHermits CaveInner SanctumLights OutMurder at MidnightMysterious TravelerQuiet PleaseSuspenseUnexpected, and Weird Circle.  In addition to the horror and mystery programs, this collection includes episodes from favorite series such as Aldrich Family, Father Knows Best, Fibber McGee and Molly, The Great Gildersleeve, Halls of Ivy, Jack Benny, and Our Miss Brooks.  I had an opportunity to listen to two episodes in this collection:

Dark Fantasy: "Coffin for Two": This stark adventure lures a man and his wife into a cellar where a mad doctor tries to kill them both. The unexpected ending is stark and hard to forget.

Dimension XDimension X: "Green Hills of Earth": This moving and lyrical adventure tells of a singer and space jockey who dreams of Earth and writes a beautiful song about a world he will never see.  This is a welcome change from the more typical Halloween fare, this touching story reminded me of another Dimension X episode: "Requiem," in which a wealthy man (Harriman), who invented a rocket to take people to the moon, fights to find a way to actually visit the moon. Both episodes are truly unforgettable!

Agatha ChristieIf you are a fan of the unexpected and enjoy trick endings, check out the Agatha Christie collection.  You may have seen many of her dramatized mysteries on television. Two of my favorites are: Ten Little Indians, and Witness for the Prosecution. Many of us don't realize that Ms. Christie also wrote many programs for radio. A good way to sample this collection is with the free sample episode: "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd." 

The CBS Radio Mystery Theater is a great source of mystery and horror dramas. This series, produced after the "golden age of radio" ended in 1962, ran from 1974-1982 and featured the "creaking door" effect made famous in the classic radio drama "Inner Sanctum." The host was E.G. Marshall. (Many of us know and love Andrew Lloyd Webber's Broadway hit "the Phantom of the Opera.").  Take a few minutes to listen to the CBS Radio Mystery Theater's 45-minute version of "Phantom of the Opera."

What are your favorite Old-Time Radio programs? Do you have a few favorite programs or individual episodes that you would enjoy sharing with other OTR listeners? Do you have requests for other themes or programs you would like me to include in a future article? If you answered "yes" to either question, leave a comment below.


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