Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 166 – Espionage Radio pt. 2

Ben Wright as Graham

Ben Wright

Part 2 of my look at spy-detective radio dramas, aka Espionage stories. This time I am focused on the character who finds himself in the middle of a mystery surrounded by a plot involving espionage. Eric Ambler was the master of the spy-detective genre and one of his stories, Journey into Fear, was adapted for radio on the series Escape. I look at that and some of the motifs found in the Ambler story and judge how well it translated into a half-hour radio episode.

Music under is “Catch of the Day” sung by Clare Fader and the Vaudevillians.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 165 – Espionage Radio pt. 1

John Stanley/Alfred Shirley

Stanley - Shirley

For the next few podcasts, I am going to feature espionage radio drama or what I call spy detective stories. There was a plethora of espionage stories on radio going back to 1931 and perhaps earlier.  The genre developed from thinly disguised detective stories into adventures with foreign intrigue. Some were series, some stood alone as part of bigger series. I begin this week with the old standby – Arthur Conan-Doyle and his ubiquitous detective, Sherlock Holmes. It was probably an example of the more thinly disguised detective thriller. This podcast is The Adventure of the Stolen Naval Treaty.

Music under is All I Need from Over the Rhine (of which I am a big fan!)

Philip Marlowe on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4 will begin presenting a series of new dramas of the major novels of Philip Marlowe by Raymond Chandler starting Saturdayat 9:30 AM EST. You will be able to hear them stream via the Internet if you go to and selecting the appropriate play. I would recommend checking it out briefly before the time to make sure all works fine.

This run stars English actor Toby Stephens playing Philip Marlowe throughout. First up is the novel “The Big Sleep.”

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 164 – Hands of Mr. Ottermole

Claude Rains

Claude Rains

“The Hands of Mr. Ottermole” was short story by early 20th century writer, Thomas Burke, a British writer. Anthony Boucher, the great mystery fiction critic, said of the story that it is “a sheerly, terrifying story…which imparts to the reader a quality of horror and shock usually associated with tales of supernatural or pure sensation, while staying in the bounds of the strict detective story.”

This version (there were several on radio) is from Suspense and stars a great duo of Claude Rains and Vincent Price. Adapted by Ken Crossen, who wrote the Milo March stories under the pseudonym of M.E. Chaber.

Music under is the Nocturne in C Minor, Op 48, No. 1 by Frederic Chopin.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 163 – Police Blotter

Bill ZuckertThis podcast – a look at the police procedural Police Blotter. The series was little known and only two copies exist. It wasn’t a very good series and definitely not a procedural along the lines of Dragnet from which it was probably created to copy. It starred character actor Bill Zuckert who is heard over many radio dramas in the fifties, but who never really handled a starring role well. He was just too typecast with his husky, tough guy sounding voice.

Music under is November Moon sung by Lindsay Wynn.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 162 – A Merry Christmas

Dick Powell

Dick Powell

A Merry Christmas gift – I am repeating an episode I did of Richard Diamond, Private Detective back in 2006. This one is a wonderful Christmas variation on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.


Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 161 – Box 13

Alan Ladd

Alan Ladd

The newspaperman as detective has been a part of many radio series. I revisit one of them in Box 13 which starred Alan Ladd. Leroy Panek says “If many of the writers of the period were journalists, the newspaper person is also a favorite character in their detective and crime stories.” The same is true of radio since many of its detective series were born out of pulp characters and naturally some involved the newspaperman-detective.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 160 – Banquo’s Chair

Donald Crisp

Donald Crisp

Rupert Croft-Cooke is a little known British writer who wrote a short story based upon a play called Banquo’s Chair in 1930. His mystery writings were never on the level of Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie or G.K Chesterton, all of whom he spoofed in a detective story he wrote. But his story Banquo’s Chair did achieve some success starting with the play, then radio drama, then film. The radio version was heard over Suspense and was broadcast three times and starred the character actor Donal Crisp as the Inspector.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 159 – Hot Copy Revisited

Fern Persons

Fern Persons

A revisit to the early forties female detective series Hot Copy which premiered in October 1941 and carried through the war years until November 1944. With the initial lead of Anne Rogers, columnist and detective, starring Fern Persons, a Chicago area radio actress. The series featured mostly crimes committed that seem to have a war theme including black market sales of Silk Stockings, Nazi spies and the standard robbers and felons. Later scripter featured the well-known Science Fiction writer, Nelson Bond, who wrote mostly the 1944 series.

Music under is Cotton Tail played by Andre Previn Trio.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 158 – Crime on the Waterfront

Myron "Mike" Wallace

Myron Wallace

Often pilot episodes never make it to broadcast. Crime on the Waterfront starring Myron Wallace is one of those detective series that never saw the light of airtime. Coming before potential sponsors in 1949 just when television was getting wind in its sail, and given the plethora of radio detectives already on, Crime on the Waterfront never had a chance.

Myron Wallace was good though he sounded a lot like Charles Russell in Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar but Wallace’s Lt. Cagle was a real detective working for a police department.  Who knows if the shows failure was why Myron Wallace soon became Mike Wallace leading to his long stint on CBS Television’s 60 Minutes!

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