Five Golden Age Radio Programs to Remember

Today, we finish up the first five years of the Great Detectives of Old Time Radio podcast

Over the course of five years, we’ve played a lot of programs. Beginning with a Monday-Friday lineup before expanding to Saturdays in January 2013, the Great Detectives of Old Time Radio had a lot of stability Wednesday-Friday with Let George Do It and Sherlock Holmes airing on Wednesday and Thursday for our first 3 1/2-4 years.

Beyond these two long time stables, there were several series that were fun and enjoyable. With new listeners coming along every month, and our RSS feeds limited, even though we’ve played these shows, it’s possible that some of our listeners have missed them. So we present a list five lesser known but still quite enjoyable shows that have marked these last five years.

1) The Adventures of the Abbots (1955)
Episodes Played: 18
What it’s about: Pat Abbott, a ritzy San Francisco private investigator solves cases with the aid of his lovely wife, Jean.
Features: Two different Pat Abbotts (Les Damon and Mandel Kramer) Good writing with a more mature bent. Also Claudia Morgan turns in a magnificent performance as Pet.
Best Episode: The Dead White Flame

2) A Life in Your Hands (1949-50, 1952)
Episodes Played: 13
What It’s About: A successful lawyer, who is set for life financially, dedicates his life to finding the truth in cases as an Amicus Curiae, a friend of the court who acts for neither prosecutor or defense to find the truth in legal proceeding including trials and coroner’s juries.
Features: Two different Jonathan Keggs, the definition of Amicus Curiae (numerous times). The closest thing to a true legal mystery drama in Old time radio.
Best Episode: Carol Carson Murdered

3) The Fat Man (1946-51)
Episodes Played: 10
What It’s About: Rotund Private Investigator Solves crimes.
Features: A classic was extremely popular in its day. It was victimized by lost episode with 95% of its run lost. A great and human performance by J Scott Smart as Brad Runyon, a smart tough as nails private detective, with a big heart.
Best Episode: The Twice Told Secret. Also check out the Fat Man Movie.

4) Candy Matson (1949-51)
Episodes Played: 14
What it’s a bit about: The life and times of San Francisco’s best female hard boiled detective.
Features: Star Natalie Masters at her best. With all the flops and oddities that came out of San Francisco during the golden age of radio, this was a gem packed with local flavor and quirky writing. Clearly the best of several golden age detective programs featuring female protagonists.
Best Episode: Jack Frost

5) Pete Kelly’s Blues (1951)
Episodes: 6 (+1 Audition)
What It’s About: “This one’s about Pete Kelly. It’s about the world he goes around in. It’s about the big music and the big troubles and the big twenties. So when they ask you tell ‘em this one’s about the blues. Pete Kelly’s Blues.”
Features: Best Jazz music in dramatic radio. So good that the crooks will stop to listen before doing their weekly quota of beatings and mayhem. In many ways, the program resembles Pat Novak for Hire or Johnny Madero only with jazz except Pete Kelly is a more sympathetic character as he’s not out for money, he just wants to play his music but he keeps getting drawn into trouble. One of the more downbeat series we’ve played but so good.
Best Episode: June Gould

These are five of my favorite lesser known shows. Feel free to share yours in the comments.

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