Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 100 – Night Beat & Broadway Is My Beat

Frank Lovejoy100th podcast of this series! This week I want to return to two series with detective elements as well as what I call radio noir aspects in their productions. A special double-header focusing on the writing, the darkness and the pulse of two of the better radio series with crime detection themes. Night Beat with its gravel-voiced character played by Frank Lovejoy (right) and its use of darkness through the writing and images and Broadway Is My Beat with its haiku-style narration, dark jazzy undertones and layered sound effects both combine to create a sizzingly summertime and dark feel to the big city “beat.” Both of these series were excellent examples of evoking the dark side of city life.

The two series were both from the early fifties, a time when film noir was at its height. It was the beginning of the cold war; it was a time of spies and communists under every rock. People were edgy – after all, they had survived a world war and were now in an undeclared one – Korea. Yet it was also a time of great prosperity for the United States.

This will be my last podcast for a few weeks as I take a break to recharge!

2 Responses to Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 100 – Night Beat & Broadway Is My Beat

  1. Wellesradio says:

    Talk about radio noir!
    Night Beat has always been my favorite of all the mystery series. I might even say it’s my favorite OTR series of all. I think it had the best writing ever on radio and the writers are some of the unsung talents of radio. I wonder what else they ever did? And of course Frank Lovejoy – I wouldn’t describe is voice as gravelly, though, just really really wise (in a 40s lingo sort of way). And poetic as all hell. It’s just too bad this series was never more popular.

    And Broadway is My Beat! You’re spot on describing this wonderful series. It’s a perfect poetic compliment to Night Beat, using the city and music to create a wonderful atmosphere of pathos. These two shows and Gunsmoke are what I consider to be the toughest, most HUMAN shows ever on radio and they each did it using a different aspect unique to the medium. Night Beat with its poetic narration, an ode to the city, Broadway is My Beat used great music combined with terse spoken word and Gunsmoke eliminating narration altogether and making spectacular use of both silence sound effects to have your imagination fill in the gaps. It’s on shows like tis that when a guy gets punched, you really feel it.

    You really do a great job on describing these series. Thank you for this.

    Interesting note: I’m glad you chose to play the first episode of Night Beat(I’ve never heard the pilot, though, which apparently didn’t have Lovejoy) – I hadn’t heard it in years but knew it right away when the announcer misspoke and said “Rudy Stone” at the beginning and also as any Night Beat fan will point out (are there any other hardcore Night Beat fans?) the catch phrase was originally “Gimme a re-write.” I don’t know where they got the eventual “copy boy!” from, but it must have dawned on them that no reporter ever says, “Gimme a re-write.”

    There’s a a great joke in one episode where Randy spends the entire episode trying to stay home and relax on his day off and he gets entangled in a mystery via a “Sorry Wrong, Number by way of Russian Roulette” plot, all while illustrating his philosophy, and the show’s central theme, of how everyone in the city is interconnected in ways we could never imagine. At the end of the episode, Randy catches himself picking up the phone and nearly shouting “Copy Boy!” to no one in particular.

    It’s shows like this that make me wish I lived in any city BUT Los Angeles.

  2. site admin says:

    Great comment and thanks. I think we are on the same wavelength as my admiration for those two radio series apparently came through based on your own enthusiastic comment to the two series.

    I agree on the newspaper life – “Copy Boy!” vs. “Gimme a re-write.” Having grown up in a newspaper family with a father who was a long time news editor and asst. managing editor, I can recall on my own visits, that I certainly heard “Copy Boy” but never recall any “Gimme a re-write” except occasionally colloquially spoken to some individual by an editor.

    You might want to read the article I wrote for the Radio Times online in their May 2008 issue. It is essentially my comments from #100 expanded.

%d bloggers like this: