Did you ever hear the old saying “it’s so old it’s new?” Well, that is what I can say about old time radio theater because listening to it is such a refreshing break from television or movies. I have a disc collection of CBS’s “Radio Mystery Theater” which ran from 1974 until 1982.
This show was produced by long time radio theater creator Hyman Brown and hosted by E.G. Marshall–who had the kind of storytelling voice that made you want to gather around a fireplace on a cold October night and just listen! CBS Radio Mystery Theater was actually a rebirth of radio theater which had been absent from—or rare on the radio airwaves for several years prior. It featured many great guest actors and iconic voices, as well as the little known performer.
Long before television people used to gather around the radio and listen to their favorite shows. Featured were such subjects as drama, adventure, comedy, horror, and mystery. My favorite is mystery. Now let me get on with why I like these radio shows so much!
In radio theater, unlike television or movies, I appreciate the fact that since there is no moving picture to go along with the dialogue, the script writing had to be very descriptive and imaginative to paint the picture of what is happening in one’s mind. There were no super enhanced computer effects to make up for the substance a particular story-line lacks, which in my opinion seems to be so common in many of today’s mainstream movies. Quality writing is what radio theater is all about and if that’s what you like that’s what you’ll get! Most of the time, the acting is fabulous!
Additionally, another advantage of radio theater is that it offers a chance for improving listening skills, increasing attention span—and developing your imagination. It gives the eyes a rest from the glare of the television too! I like laying down, closing my eyes and allow the picture to form in my mind…the characters, the scenes, the time periods etc…. It can become addictive!
Radio theater is still present today and probably the most popular is the variety show which can be heard on National Public Radio, Prairie Home Companion, hosted by Garrison Keillor. Visit the PHC site below—or the Skary Guy site to see how you can learn more about radio theater and obtain your very own library of CBS’s Radio Mystery Theater, hosted by E.G. Marshall!