Gunsmoke Radio Show

First Show: Jun 26, 1952
Last Show: Jun 18, 1961
Number Shows: 480 shows, 2 auditions, 5 hour tribute
Audition Shows: Jun 11, 1949, Jul 13, 1949

Series Description:

Gunsmoke is one of those long-running classic Old-Time Radio shows that everyone knows and remembers. It’s also one that is still respected for its high values, in all aspects. Gunsmoke first aired on the CBS network on April 26, 1952, billed as the first adult western. It was set in Dodge City, Kansas in the 1870’s.

The main character, Matt Dillon, was played by William Conrad. On August 6, 1951, William Conrad played the lead in a show entitled “Pagosa” in the series Romance, where he played the part of a reluctant sheriff in a tough Western town. Although not a true audition, Conrad’s character role is very close the that of Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke. It was one of the “stepping stones” toward the production of Gunsmoke.

Other regular characters were Chester Proudfoot, played by Parley Baer; Kitty, played by Georgia Ellis; and Doc Adams, played by Howard McNear.

The series featured top-notch acting and well-developed scripts that set it apart from many other shows, not only Westerns; however, it was the sound effects that stood out the most. Listen carefully and one can hear many levels of sound that really helps transport the listener back to the old west.

Besides the US version, there was an Austrailian production of Gunsmoke. It began sometime in 1955, transcribed under the Artransa label, and aired Mondays at 7:00 PM on the Macquarie network. It is not known how many shows aired or how long the series ran.

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Our Miss Brooks

Our Miss Brooks was a hit on radio from the outset; within eight months of its launch as a regular series, the show landed several honors, including four for Eve Arden, who won polls in four individual publications of the time. Arden had actually been the third choice to play the title role. Harry Ackerman, at the time CBS’s West Coast director of programming, wanted Shirley Booth for the part, but as he told historian Gerald Nachman many years later, he realized Booth was too focused on the underpaid downside of public school teaching at the time to have fun with the role. Lucille Ball was believed to be the next choice, but she was already committed to My Favorite Husband and didn’t audition. Then CBS chairman Bill Paley, who was friendly with Arden, persuaded her to audition for the part.

Produced by Larry Berns and written by director Al Lewis, Our Miss Brooks premiered on CBS July 19, 1948. According to radio critic John Crosby, her lines were very “feline” in dialogue scenes with principal Conklin and would-be boyfriend Boynton, with sharp, witty comebacks. The interplay between the cast—blustery Conklin, nebbishy Denton, accommodating Harriet, absentminded Mrs. Davis, clueless Boynton, scheming Miss Enright—also received positive reviews.

Arden won a radio listeners’ poll by Radio Mirror magazine as the top ranking comedienne of 1948-1949, receiving her award at the end of an Our Miss Brooks broadcast that March. “I’m certainly going to try in the coming months to merit the honor you’ve bestowed upon me, because I understand that if I win this (award) two years in a row, I get to keep Mr. Boynton,” she joked. But she was also a hit with the critics; a winter 1949 poll of newspaper and magazine radio editors taken by Motion Picture Daily named her the year’s best radio comedienne.

For its entire radio life, the show was sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive-Peet, promoting Palmolive soap, Lustre Creme shampoo and Toni hair care products. The radio series continued until 1957, a year after its television life ended.

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Dragnet Radio Show

This series was broadcasted from June 3, 1949 to February 26, 1957 on NBC at various times and days, starring Dragnet starred Jack Webb as Detective Sergeant Joe Friday. Various partners throughout the show’s run were Sergeant Ben Romero (Barton Yarborough), Ed Jacobs (Barney Phillips), and Officer Frank Smith (Ben Alexander). Webb was the creator/Director of the series and wanted everything to be as authentic as possible, down to the last sound effect. The stories were based on actual police files and “the names were changed to protect the innocent”.

Dragnet broke a few radio taboos as well, such as dramatizing sex crimes. Children also were killed on occasion as in the episode “Twenty-Two Rifle For Christmas”. The series eventually went to television and ran there for many years. The familiar DUM DE DUM DUM, the first four notes of the opening theme composed by Walter Schumann, became a pop culture legend and was forever associated with Dragnet.

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