Old Time Radio 101: Popular Western and Adventure Programs

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The Lone Ranger

Probably, the most iconic old-time radio program of them all. It went to television and many might think of its eight year run on Television from 1949-57, it was during its 21 year run on radio that the Lone Ranger, a series that was targeted towards kids, became a popular pop culture hit with all ages. The Lone Ranger, the only survivor of six Rangers who were ambushed. The Lone Ranger set out to bring the guilty parties to justice and then continued on as the Lone Ranger, aided by Tonto. The series was a thrice weekly feature with more than 2,000 episodes in circulation including a long-running serialized story from 1941 where he takes on a mission from the President to fight the Legion of the Black Arrow and proceeds to do so over sixty-four episodes. In addition, the Lone Ranger met up with historical figures such as Teddy Roosevelt and Billy the Kid. I asked Andrew Rhynes who posts episodes of the Lone Ranger (and also edits this podcast) and he suggested those who are new to the Lone Ranger may want to start with episodes from the 1950s as the writing quality improved.


Gunsmoke is another program that made the leap to television and the 1955-75 TV show enjoys popularity even in the age of streaming. The radio series began three years before in 1952 and began radio’s last great trend, the rise of the adult western. Gunsmoke and the other adult westerns brought a more realistic look at the harsh realities of life in the Old West. William Conrad starred in the rad series as Marshall Matt Dillon and led a talented cast of the best radio performers in telling the stories of life in Dodge City. Throughout its run,t he series was known for its great writing, superb acting, and well-done sound design. The series would be the last surviving program from the Golden Age of Radio when it left the air in 1961.

The Old Time Radio Superman Show

In 1940, Superman came to radio less than two years after being introduced in the pages of Action Comics magazine. Superman was popular but very new. Radio would actually define the character in many: Jimmy Olsen was first introduced on the radio, so was kryptonite, and also the radio would be home to the first Superman-Batman team-up. The series originated from New York and starred Bud Collyer as Superman and Joan Alexander as Lois Lane. Superman had all sorts of adventures, on land (including some modern westerns), sea, the and even a few in space. A couple of storylines stand out as particularly memorable. There was the exciting Kryptonite Saga which would lead to Superman battling the Atom Man, a Kryptonite-power Ex-Nazi soldier. This serial became the inspiration for the Superman Movie serial Atom Man v. Superman. Superman battled the forces of intolerance in post-war America, most memorably in The Clan of the Fiery Cross, Superman would take on a thinly disguised version of the Ku Klux Klan. This serial became the basis for a recent graphic novel, Superman Smashes the Klan.(affiliate link.)

Next week: Popular Crime Programs

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