“CBS Radio Mystery Theater” Multi-Episode Marathon 14 #WeirdDarkness #RetroRadio

CBS Radio Mystery Theater” Multi-Episode Marathon 14 #WeirdDarkness #RetroRadio

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After September 30, 1962, commercial radio drama was as dead as the doornail described in the opening pages of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843), and everyone understood that television killed it. People who worked in both mediums realized that working in radio was a much better overall experience than television could ever be. Sure, TV had pictures to go along with the stories, but putting those pictures on the air involved a highly technical and expensive technology, and by the time those images reached the audience they were grainy, blurry, and sometimes nearly impossible to see. One actor could play different parts on several different radio programs, even in a single episode, but once they were seen in a TV show their face was recognizable enough that they had a hard time working on another show, and even a twenty-second appearance meant hours in makeup and wardrobe. Appearing in a radio drama required just a couple rehearsals and then remaining as quiet as possible in the studio, following along in the script until time to perform your lines, which you also read from the script. There was one important thing that television could offer over radio work; money. The accounting in TV and radio was fundamentally different. A radio program was usually paid for by a single sponsor while commercial time on TV shows was sold piecemeal, but there was still a phenomenal amount of money involved in TV production and the networks and sponsors were happy to pay it. Unable to compete with the huge amount of money being spread around by TV, after the final broadcasts of Suspense and Yours Truly Johnny Dollar on September 30, 1960, the Golden Age of Radio came to an end. Or did it? In the decade after the end of the Golden Age of Radio, TV matured artistically and technically. There had been a rejection by the networks of “rural” programming which helped launch a nostalgia craze. This craze began with the release of George Lucas’s American Graffiti (1973), and suddenly everything old seemed new again. One of the genres which were best suited to radio was the horror shows which made listeners sit up in bed and pull the sheets over their heads. This sort of program had been pioneered Wyliss Cooper and Arch Oboler on Lights Out as well as The Whistler, Suspense, and Inner Sanctum Mysteries. This was the type of show creators decided upon for his radio nostalgia project, which became The CBS Radio Mystery Theater. They were convinced that there was enough interest from those who had heard similar shows growing up during the Golden Age, but the show built a following of younger fans for whom radio drama was a new and exciting experience. In many ways, CBSRMT was more like a TV program on the radio than a typical Old Time Radio show. The shows were taped rather than broadcast live, which allowed for greater post-production editing and creative control. The scripts generally ran 45 minutes, and the action was broken at points to allow for separately produced commercials and news bulletins to be inserted. The opening featured the “creaking door” effect which had been part of The Inner Sanctum. Host E.G. Marshall was never as campily creepy earlier horror hosts, but his closing, “Until next time, pleasant… dreams?” was sure to inspire nightmares. Production of CBSRMT was efficient almost to the point of cheapness. Creators drew upon radio row veterans working in New York as well as up-and-coming television personalities. The show used original stories from a wide variety of genres as well as literary classics. Writers were paid a flat $350 for each recorded script, and actors received union scale rates of $73.92 per episode. The actors would come into the studio for an initial script reading at 9:00 am, and the episode was generally completed by noon. Paychecks were handed out and the tape would be edited in the afternoon.

00:00:00.000 = INTRODUCTION
00:01:54.482 = Ghost at High Noon (July 29, 1974)
00:46:54.396 = The Only Blood (July 31, 1974)
01:31:45.305 = The Hit Man (August 01, 1974)
02:16:26.079 = I Thought You Were Dead (August 05, 1974)
03:01:30.661 = The Headstrong Corpse (August 06, 1974)
03:46:49.707 = The Picture of Dorian Gray (August 07, 1974)
04:33:15.631 = You Only Die Once (August 08, 1974)

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