RADIO SCIENCE FICTION
This is the third look at programming on radio. In the sixth and seventh part of this series, we looked at radio serials. In the eleventh portion we reviewed radio westerns, not all of them, but most of them. With this look back, we will be looking at science fiction. I will look at broadcast science fiction in two ways. First, what I will refer to as "full time si-fi." These are programs that were primarily nothing but science fiction. Second will be "part time si-fi." This is programming science fiction scripts among other types of scripts like drama. Anthologies are where you will find sprinklings of science fiction. I'm sure that I will overlook a few broadcast series, but you will at least get the bulk of what was programed in this country. I say this country, because I will not be examining the great science fiction programs from the BBC, CBC, Australia, or South Africa in this installment.
One of the earliest programs was entitled FRANKENSTEIN. Authored by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (08/30/1797 - 02/01/1851), it was first produced for Australian radio starring George Edwards in 1931. This thirteen episode broadcast was aired over the CBS network in 1932, a year after the Universal film release starring Boris Karloff. It very closely follows the original book thus differing from the Hollywood film version.
BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY was first heard 11/07/32 on CBS as a five times a week series. This 15 minute program was heard at 7:15 p.m. Sponsored by Kellogg, Curtis Arnall was heard as Buck and Adele Ronson as Wilma. This first attempt ended on 06/17/33, but returned to the air Monday through Thursday from 10/02/33 - 06/29/34 and then 09/03/34 until 12/26/35. Both of these series were sponsored by Cocomalt and heard at 6:00 p.m., and again starred Curtis Arnall. Matt Crowley took over the role of Buck starting on 12/30/35, for Cream of Wheat, and continued until 05/22/36. The series then moved to MUTUAL for a short three times a week run from 04/05/39 - 07/31/39. Sponsorship came from Popsicle. The shortest MUTUAL run was from 05/18/40 until 07/27/40 with a format change to 30 minutes on Saturdays at noon. Finally, with the lead change to John Larkin, Buck was last heard from 09/30/46 until 04/14/47 at 4:45 p.m. 5 times a week for General Foods.
Several years after Buck Rogers took to the air, the audience could tune into THE AMAZING INTERPLANETARY ADVENTURES OF FLASH GORDON starring Gale Gordon. The series was sustained on MUTUAL beginning 04/27/35 and continued for twenty-six weekly Saturday episodes, ending on 10/26/35. There was in preempted Saturday, 06/29/35, during this run. This series dovetailed into THE ADVENTURES OF JUNGLE JIM when Flash Gordon and Dale crashed on their return to earth, in the jungle, and were married. A second series entitled THE FURTHER INTERPLANETARY ADVENTURES OF FLASH GORDON began on 10/28/35 as a five day a week series. It ended on 02/06/36 after 74 episodes and was sponsored by Groves Nose Spray. Nothing is known about the cast credits, but 4 episodes do exist. I have heard rumors about a third series, but have never been able to pin down a title or any dating information.
THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN. Next on the science fiction list would have to be SUPERMAN. Originally syndicated from 1938 to 1940, it became part of the MUTUAL lineup on 02/12/40 starring Clayton "Bud" Collyer as the man of steel. The series went through many broadcast changes over the years. Starting as a sustaining broadcast three times a week from 02/12/40 until 03/09/42, the program then was heard five times a week from 08/31/42 until 01/01/43. Sponsorship for Pep began on 01/04/43 with the program continuing as a five day a week program until 06/30/44. Starting on 07/04/44 the program changed to twice a week until 09/28/44, again with Pep sponsorship. Pep continued sponsoring the program as a five day a week series from 01/15/45 until 06/27/47 and finished with the 09/29/47 until 12/26/47 broadcasts. The last of the 15 minute programs were heard from 12/29/47 until 01/28/49 on a sustaining basis. MUTUAL changed the format of the program to 30 minutes and broadcast its last series three days a week from 01/31/49 until 06/17/49. MUTUAL broadcast a total of 1,910 of the 15 minute programs and 62 thirty minute programs. The series then moved to ABC starting on 11/12/49 as a 30 minute program. Michael Fitzmaurice took over the lead role and continued until the last broadcast 03/01/51. The ABC run was carried on a sustaining basis and out of these 89 broadcasts, 52 were repeats of earlier scripts.
BEYOND TOMORROW. From the beginning of the SUPERMAN broadcasts in 1938, no other series were produced that were strictly dedicated to science fiction until 1950. Individual scripts were used from time to time, and we will look at those later in this installment, but no new series were developed until BEYOND TOMORROW. This series was first heard as BEYOND THIS WORLD on 02/23/50. This was an audition or pilot program for the new CBS series BEYOND TOMORROW, but it was short lived. Only three additional programs were aired. 04/05/50 "Requiem," 04/11/50 "Incident At Switchpath" and 04/13/50 "The Outer Limit" (which was the script that was used for the audition program). But now the stage was set for a flood of science fiction radio dramas.
TWO THOUSAND PLUS. Considered the first adult anthology science fiction series on radio, MUTUAL radio aired this program from 03/15/50 until 01/02/52. Some of the latest research for this series by Jay Hickerson gives the following broadcast schedule: 03/15/50 - 02/28/51, 03/02/51 - 05/11/51, 07/08/51 - 09/23/51 and finally 09/26/51 - 01/02/52. That would account for a possible 89 broadcasts, but there may have been a few preempted dates. Also, several dates conflict in November of 1950 with traditional dating of some script titles. This is also supported by the latest information available from James Widner and Meade Frierson, III. So while we are still looking for additional programs to enjoy, more detailed information is needed.
DIMENSION X. NBC was next in presenting serious science fiction on the air. On 04/08/50 "The Outer Limit" was aired as the premiere broadcast for DIMENSION X. The series last for fifty broadcasts ending on 09/29/51. Stories from some of the top writers were used week after week. Graham Doar, Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, L. Ron Hubbard, and Ernest Kinoy were among the celebrated authors who's writings were dramatized. This series is one of the favorite science fiction programs among old time radio collectors.
SPACE PATROL. Originating on television, SPACE PATROL soon found a home on the ABC radio network. Starting out as a 15 minute program, it quickly moved into the 30 minute format. First heard 09/18/50 it aired twice a week as a sustained program until 01/08/51. Sponsorship was picked up by Ralston and the program became a once a week staple on Saturdays from 08/18/51 until 03/27/54. The last year, again on Saturdays, was sponsored by Nestles and heard from 04/03/54 to 03/19/55.
TOM CORBETT, SPACE CADET. With the success of SPACE PATROL, ABC was quick to get another juvenile science fiction program on the air. TOM CORBETT, SPACE CADET was the answer and became popular from the start, but was short lived. Sponsorship was immediate with Kellogg, and was heard twice a week from 01/01/52 until 07/03/52..
TALES OF TOMORROW. Another of the thirteen or so programs that started on television and found its way to radio, was TALES OF TOMORROW. Only 15 programs were aired on this series and all were hosted by Raymond Edward Johnson (of INNER SANCTUM MYSTERIES fame). Many of the scripts were adapted from stories in GALAXY magazine. One interesting item about this program was that in its short life on the air, it was heard over two different networks. The first nine broadcastst (01/01/53 - 02/26/53) were produced for ABC. The last six (03/05/53 - 04/09/53) were heard over CBS. As far as I can determine at this time, all were produced on a sustaining basis.
THE PLANET MAN. Juvenile program syndicated from 1952 to 1953. 78 fifteen minute broadcasts were aired. Pure science fiction, but of little note. 76 episodes are available.
CAPTAIN STARR OF SPACE. Starring John Larch, this series was heard over the ABC network from 06/02/53 until 05/27/54, twice a week. Very little is known about the series and only five broadcasts are currently available to collectors out of the 104 that were produced.
X MINUS ONE. The most ambitious effort to provide science fiction to the listening radio audience was X MINUS ONE. Following in the tradition of DIMENSION X, X MINUS ONE was top notch in all aspects of scripts, acting, and sound effects. Again, most of the stories came from Galaxy Magazine and were penned by Ray Bradbury, Ernest Kinoy, Stephen Vincent Benet, Robert Bloch, Graham Doar, and many others. The series was heard starting 04/24/55 on Sundays until 06/05/55. After taking a short break, it resumed again on Thursdays from 07/07/55 to 11/10/55. A move to Wednesday nights was from 11/16/55 until 03/28/56. Followers of the series then changed their listening habits to Tuesday nights between 04/03/56 and 09/11/56. After a two week break, the series continued on Wednesday night from 09/26/56 to 04/24/57. The last broadcasting change was to Thursday nights from 06/20/57 until the final broadcast on 01/09/58. One last attempt was tried to resurrect the series with the 01/17/73 experimental broadcast of "Iron Chancellor." The push to bring the series back ended with that program. This was a real loss. As good as the program was, most listeners (and indeed collectors today) didn't realize that the X MINUS ONE budget was being cut constantly with the inroads that television was making on the sponsorship dollars. As more and more advertising dollars were pulled away from radio, many economy moves were made. Live music became prerecorded, script authors and script adaptation authors were offered only minimum pay for their efforts, and actors involved in the productions barely made scale. But still, everyone gave their best and it is evident, even today, when you listen to the programs.
EXPLORING TOMORROW. During the broadcast run of X MINUS ONE, the MUTUAL network decided to give science fiction a try again. Between 12/11/57 and 06/13/58 the series EXPLORING TOMORROW was heard. When the series left the airwaves, it became the last network attempt to produce and broadcast science fiction on radio. 31 broadcasts were made and 28 of the broadcasts have survived. There is some minor problems with the correct titles of programs circulating between collectors, but the bulk of the series exists.
Now, let's turn to where science fiction scripts appeared from time to time as part of other programs. In some cases, the reader may take issue with me feeling that some of these broadcasts are more in the fantasy or supernatural catagory instead of science fiction, and they may be right. But sometimes the line that separates these divisions is a little blurred. I will not list the broadcasts in chronological order, but rather list the programs in alphabetical order followed by the science fiction stories that appeared on them.
CBS Radio Mystery Theatre (01/06/74 - 12/31/82)
Too many science fiction broadcasts in this series over the years to list them individually. The series had over 2,950 broadcasts, including repeats, for the eight years that it was on the air.CBS Radio Workshop (01/27/56 - 09/22/57) 87 total broadcasts. 01/27/56 # 1 Brave New World, Part 1 02/03/56 # 2 Brave New World, Part 2 02/17/56 # 4 Season Of Disbelief / Hail And Farewell 09/14/56 #34 A Pride Of Carrots 11/11/56 #42 Report On The We-uns 02/17/57 #54 The Space Merchants, Part 1 02/24/57 #55 The Space Merchants, Part 2 07/21/57 #76 The Green Hills Of Earth 08/18/57 #80 The Celestial Omnibus Crisis (11/22/73 - 12/29/77) 152 total broadcasts. Too many titles to list here in this installment. Dark Fantasy (11/14/41 - 06/19/42) 31 total broadcasts. Escape (07/07/47 - 09/25/54) 241 total broadcasts. 02/22/48 # 36 How Love Came To Professor Guildea 05/09/48 # 52 The Time Machine (Repeat 10/22/50) 09/05/48 # 64 Dream Of Armageddon 09/19/48 # 66 The Man Who Could Work Miracles (Repeat 12/31/50) 03/05/49 # 70 Conqueror's Isle (Repeat 01/11/53) 03/26/49 # 75 The Adaptive Ultimate 02/07/50 #109 The Outer Limit 03/30/50 #116 Green Splotches 06/02/50 #125 Mars Is Heaven 07/25/51 #159 The Earth Men 03/29/53 #189 The Invader 08/23/53 #210 The Man From Tomorrow 10/04/53 #216 Zero Hour Family Theatre (02/13/47 - 01/31/62) Over 760 total broadcasts. 08/23/50 #184 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (Repeat 11/06/51 & 04/22/53) 09/30/53 #338 The Journey Of The Pegasus 11/11/53 #344 The Martians And The Coys (Repeated 12/16/59) 07/07/54 #377 The Last Smash 10/13/54 #391 U.F.O. 11/10/54 #395 At 155 Pounds 01/12/55 #403 Stranger In Town 07/03/57 #528 Invasion Favorite Story 06/25/46 - 04/19/49) 119 total broadcasts. 07/02/46 # 2 The Diamond Lens 09/24/46 # 14 Frankenstein 10/01/46 # 15 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea 10/15/46 # 17 Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde 02/18/47 # 35 Dr. Heidegger's Experiment 11/11/47 # 57 The Man From Yesterday 02/03/48 # 69 The Sunken City 09/21/48 # 89 The Time Machine The Hall Of Fantasy (08/22/52 - 09/26/52, 01/05/53 - 09/28/53) 45 total broadcasts. 07/20/53 #35 Out Of The Sky 07/27/53 #36 The Automaton 08/10/53 #38 The Man From The Second Earth Hollywood Star Playhouse (04/24/50 - 02/15/53) 142 total broadcasts. 09/07/52 The Man From The Tenth Planet Lights Out (01/01/34 - 09/03/47) 381 total broadcasts. 08/12/36 #137 Across The Gap (Repeat 11/03/42) (Also aired as "And Adam Gegot") 03/10/37 #167 Chicken Heart (Repeat 02/23/38, 11/24/42) 03/31/37 #170 Homus Primus 06/13/37 #181 The Meteor Man (Repeat 12/22/42) 01/26/38 #202 Oxychloride X (Repeat 02/16/43) 10/13/42 #273 The Revolt Of The Worms (Repeat as #10 in the syndicated 1964-65 season, and as # 3 in the syndicated 1971-72 season) 08/24/43 #318 Sub-Basement 08/31/43 #319 The Immortal Gentleman 07/28/45 #326 The Rocket Ship (Repeat as "The Rocket From Manhattan" as # 8 in the syndicated 1964-65 season, and as #22 in the syndicated 1971-72 season) 1964-65 Season # 3 Special To Hollywood 1964-65 Season # 4 The Day Sinatra Got Fat Lux Radio Theatre (10/14/34 - 06/07/55) 926 total broadcasts. 01/04/54 #849 The Day The Earth Stood Still 02/08/55 #896 War Of The Worlds The Mercury Theatre On The Air (07/11/38 - 12/04/38) 22 total broadcasts. 10/30/38 #17 The War Of The Worlds Mysterious Traveler (12/05/43 - 09/23/52) 370 total broadcasts. 04/09/44 # 19 Beware Of Tomorrow 10/07/44 # 43 The Man The Insects Hated (Repeat 07/27/47) 01/13/45 # 56 Escape Through Time 12/29/46 # 84 If You Believe 02/02/47 # 89 Voice From Tomorrow (Repeat 07/26/49) 02/09/47 # 90 Five Miles Down (Repeat 07/04/50) 12/30/47 #134 Escape To 2480 (Repeat 11/21/50) 06/22/48 #159 Zero Hour 08/02/49 #215 The Planet Zevius (Repeat 05/01/51) 10/11/49 #225 The Last Survivor NBC Short Story (02/21/51 - 05/30/52) 49 total broadcasts. 01/04/52 The Rocket Quiet Please 06/08/47 - 06/25/49) 105 total broadcasts. 07/27/47 # 6 I Remember Tomorrow 10/06/47 # 17 Not Enough Time 02/02/48 # 34 Pathetic Fallacy 03/29/48 # 42 Quiet Please (Repeat 06/25/49) 06/14/48 # 53 Not Responsible After 30 Years 07/26/48 # 57 The Man Who Stole The Planet 08/09/48 # 59 The Thing On The Fourable Board 10/03/48 # 67 Meet John Smith, John 11/07/48 # 72 Adam And The Darkest Day 11/21/48 # 74 One For The Book 12/05/48 # 76 Very Unimportant Person 05/08/49 # 98 Other Side Of The Stars 05/21/49 #100 The Oldest Man In The World Radio City Playhouse (07/03/48 - 01/01/50) 72 total broadcasts. 06/13/49 #43 How Love Came To Professor Guildea 10/02/49 #59 Conquerors' Isle The Sealed Book 26 total broadcasts. 07/29/45 #20 Beware Of Tomorrow So Proudly We Hail (06/01/41 - 09/26/41, 10/10/48 - 08/25/57) 12/09/51 #166 Terror At Polgar 01/06/52 #170 Matter Of Time 01/10/54 #275 Experiment In Space 02/05/56 #383 The Man From Mars Suspense (06/17/42 - 09/30/62) 945 total broadcasts. 05/18/44 # 92 Donovan's Brain, Part 1 (Repeat as 60 minute program on 02/07/48) 05/25/44 # 93 Donovan's Brain, Part 2 11/03/52 #485 Frankenstein (Repeat 06/07/55) 02/15/54 #539 The Outer Limit (Repeat 03/17/57) 04/05/55 #592 Zero Hour (Repeat 05/18/58 and 01/03/60) 07/12/55 #606 Kaleidoscope 09/01/57 #714 Man From Tomorrow 02/11/62 #912 The Man Who Went Back To Save Lincoln Theater Guild On The Air (12/06/43 - 06/07/53) 11/19/50 Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde 04/26/53 1984 Theatre Five (08/03/64 - 07/30/54) 260 total broadcasts. 08/05/64 # 3 Terror From Beyond 08/10/64 # 6 Rebellion Next Week 08/18/64 # 12 The New Order 08/21/64 # 15 Molecule Masquerade 08/28/64 # 20 Incident At Apogee 09/01/64 # 22 Outside Time 09/10/64 # 29 First Encounter 09/16/64 # 33 The Big Freeze 09/22/64 # 37 The Odyssey Of #14 09/24/64 # 39 The Evil That Men Do 09/28/64 # 41 Look Who's Talking 10/02/64 # 45 Subject 428A 10/12/64 # 51 All The Bright Young Ones 11/06/64 # 70 Living Credit 11/13/64 # 75 Deedle, Deedle, Dumpling My Son X-1 11/24/64 # 82 The Talkers 11/26/64 # 84 The Neighbor 12/24/64 #104 The Wish Fulfillment Machine 12/28/64 #106 Five Strangers 01/14/65 #119 The Wandering Spaceman 01/27/65 #128 Tomorrow 6-1212 02/08/65 #136 Cold Storage 02/17/65 #143 Post Time 02/18/65 #144 It's A Work Of Art 03/24/65 #168 Point Of Impact 04/21/65 #188 Those Wonderful Stamps From El Dorado 07/26/65 #256 In Absence Of All Intelligent Life
Next Part XIV - BROADCASTING OTR PROGRAMS
If there is an area of information that you, the new or well established collector, would like to see in this series, please feel free to write me. Any questions, comments, or suggestions will be carefully considered. I can be reached through this internet web site or the following addresses:
P.O. Box 347
Howell, MI 48844-0347
Copyright © 1997 by Terry G.G. Salomonson. All rights reserved.