1930s

Afloat with Henry Morgan
1932 - 52 episodes (complete), 15 minutes - An adventure series from the BBC starring Australian actor George Edwards. Lots of swashbuckling pirate stories from the Spanish Main.

The Air Adventures of Jimmy Allen
1933-1937 - 126 episodes - 15 minutes - A juvenile adventure series about a 16 year old pilot. The series was created and written by a pair of WWI flying aces, Bill Moore and Bob Burt. An independent production sponsored by Skelly Oil, the program became so popular that the fanclub newsletter reached a circulation of 600,000 at one point. Note: Several of the shows on the player below (including the first two) are not great recordings. You can skip over them by clicking on the double right arrow button.

Amos & Andy
1926-1960 - This was likely the most famous radio show of all time. Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll created two of the most enduring characters ever. The program has attracted a lot of criticism over the years for what some have perceived as racist themes. But in fact, a large portion of their listeners was black. At one point, their audience was estimated to include a third of all the residents of the United States. The player links to shows from 1943.

Anne of the Airlanes
1930s - 24 episodes - 15 minutes - Juvenile adventure. Although Anne was not a pilot, this series clearly owed much to the fame of Amelia Earhardt.

The Black Flame of the Amazon
1938 - 15 minutes - 17 programs - Juvenile adventure. The adventures of Harold Noyce, World Famous Explorer and children Jean and Jimmy Brady, who are searching for their father who is being held captive by Indians. The story revolves around a search for lost treasure in Brazil.

Blondie
1939-1950 - 30 minutes - 42 episodes - Situation comedy. Based on the popular comic strip by Chic Young. The roles of Blondie and Dagwood Bumstead are played by Penny Singleton (until 1949) and Arthur Lake, who also starred in a series of Blondie movies during the same period.

The Blue Beetle
1940 - 30 minutes - 26 episodes - Superhero crime drama. The Blue Beetle was Dan Garrett, an ordinary young police officer who donned a mysterious costume that was "strong as steel but supple as silk" and assumed the identity of the Blue Beetle to fight crime and punish evildoers.

Bob Hope 1935-1955 - 16 episodes - Comedy/Variety. Bob Hope had already had a long career in Vaudeville before coming to radio. His show went by various names on different networks but the formula was more or less constant. During World War II, Hope took his show on the road, broadcasting from all over the world as he toured constantly to boost morale among the troops.

Calling All Cars
1933-1939 - 30 minutes - 276 episodes - Police drama. This was the grandfather of a genre that would become a staple of radio and later, television. The show was formulaic but interesting. The episodes are introduced by a police officer and there was often a wrap-up at the end explaining how the miscreant got his just desserts. The sponsor was Rio Grande "cracked" gasoline, (to give your car police car performance.)

Cavalcade of America
1935-1953 - 30 minutes - 242 episodes - Historical drama. Cavalcade came about as a sort of penance for the DuPont Corporation, the show's sponsor for its entire run. The company had gained a reputation as a war profiteer during World War I and they saw this program as a way to help re-establish their patriotic credentials. It was typically made up of two or more related vignettes built around a common historical theme or event.

Chandu, The Magician
1932-1936, 1948-1950 - 15 minutes, changed to 30 minutes in early 1949 - 276 episodes - Juvenile Adventure. Chandu recounted the adventures of Frank Chandler, an American adventurer who has learned the secrets of the mysterious East. The show takes place in various exotic locations—some real, some fictional. The stories are serial in format. The series was revived and updated in 1948 after a 12-year hiatus. I enjoy the earlier series but have not yet had a chance to listen to the later version.

Cinnamon Bear
1937 - 15 minutes - 26 episodes (complete) - Juvenile fantasy. Judy and Jimmy Burton find a stuffed bear named Paddy O'Cinnamon while digging through the attic one day. He takes them on a series of adventures. This show was repeated annually in many markets, usually between Thanksgiving and Chrismas.

Columbia Workshop
1936-1957 - 30 minutes - 23 episodes - Experimental dramatic anthology. This is an interesting show that loved to take chances and challenge convention. Sometimes the result was successful, sometimes not. The experimentation was not confined to avant-garde scripts. They also tried different approaches to production. Nothing was sacred. Certainly worth a listen.

The Cruise of the Poll Parrot
1937-1938 - 15 minutes - 39 episodes - Juvenile adventure. Many people lament the way marketing departments have taken over children's programming (see Transformers for example). The Cruise of the Poll Parrot was essentially a successful marketing tool for Poll Parrot Shoes, from the same company that sold Red Goose and Weatherbird shoes. The story is set in 1858 in New Bedford. There are a number of characters but the the two children, Johnny Robbins and Sue Grange, provide the real marketing hook. As children's programs go, this is pretty good. It's well produced and fun to listen to.

Down Our Way
1930s - 30 minutes - 26 episodes - Drama. Not much is known about the history or origin of this show. The stories revolve around the normal ups and downs of small-town life. The central characters, Eli and Jenny Jenkins are an old married couple whose favorite activity is choir practice. It's an enjoyable show and sort of like an old, comfortable sweater.

Dr. Christian
1937-1954 - 30 minutes - 47 episodes - Drama. Created to allow Jean Hersholt to basically reprise his role from the film The Country Doctor from 1936. The program is set in River's End, a small town located somewhere in middle America. Lurene Tuttle, who played nurse Judy Price from 1937-1943, went on to the role of Effie Perrine (opposite Howard Duff) in The Adventures of Sam Spade, one of the most popular shows in the history of radio.

Easy Aces
1930-1948 - 12 minutes - 239 episodes - Situation Comedy. Goodman and Jane Ace (playing themselves) starred in this long-running, low-key comedy. Jane was the mistress of the malaprop, often managing to fit several interesting linguistic twists into a single sentence. Some of her expressions made it into the popular lexicon. Her "time wounds all heals" is still heard occasionally. A good show.

The Ed Wynn Show (aka The Fire Chief)
1935-1945 - 30 minutes - 11 episodes - Comedy/Variety. Ed Wynn was an old vaudeville comedian who became a radio superstar in the 1930s. It was a fairly typical variety show, with Graham McNamee playing Wynn's straight man and announcer.

Family Doctor
1932 - 15 minutes - 39 episodes - Drama. Dr. Grant Adams is a small town physician who dispenses sage advice to his patients and neighbors. Strangely, only twelve of the thirty-nine episodes were ever aired.

Flash Gordon 1935 - 26 Episodes - 15 minutes - Juvenile adventure

Frank Watanabe and the Honorable Archie
1934 - 15 minutes - 2 episodes - Comedy. This is one of the oddest shows out there. I only have two episodes but there are many more available. Frank is a Japanese houseboy and the show chronicles his (mis)adventures.

Front Page Drama

Frontier Fighters 1930s - 39 Episodes (complete) - 15 minutes - Historical Drama. This is not Cowboys and Indians as the title might suggest. Each episode takes a historical person or event in the exploration of North America and presents the story in dramatic form. The stories include Lewis and Clark, The Donner Party, Brigham Young, Nevada and the Comstock Lode, Yellowstone Park, and many others.

The Green Valley Line
1934 - 15 minutes - 26 episodes - Drama. This is one of my favorite shows. It's a fairly simple story of a small railroad trying to make it against a much larger competitor. Rumors abound about some additional episodes exist that haven't made it into distribution (as many as 26). Certainly, the last episode leaves this possibility open, althought the story gets pretty well wrapped up.

The Adventures of Howie Wing

In the Name of the Law

Information, Please

Jack Armstrong, The All-American Boy

Jack Benny

Jerry of the Circus

Jerry at Fair Oaks

The Adventures of Jungle Jim

Lights Out

Lux Radio Theater

The Magic Island

Mama Bloom's Brood

Mercury Theater on the Air

Nick Harris, Detective

Police Headquarters

Ports of Call

Secret Agent K-7

Si and Elmer

Speed Gibson

The Adventures of Tarzan

The Witch's Tale

The World Adventurers Club


2009 Bill Deming