In sharing my list of my 5 favorite radio programs, I’m going to be mixing it up a bit by offering up some selections from both my past and present. So, I thought I’d begin with some of the earliest radio that I remember listening to. I’m pretty much a non-commercial radio loyalist these days, but like most people my early years of radio listening tended to happen on the commercial slice of the dial.
I have vivid early childhood memories in which I’m in my bedroom late at night, with the lights off listening to the radio drama “The Shadow.” I can’t remember the station that aired this, but chances are that it was a San Francisco-based AM radio station (most likely KSFO).
Listening to these suspense-filled shows as I nodded off to sleep as a small child not only was one of my first introductions to the concept of radio as a companion; but was also the first step in my eventual embrace of horror fiction. Listening to “The Shadow” probably paved the way for me reading creepy Stephen King stories by the age of 11.
These days radio dramas are few and far between, but you can catch archives of “The Shadow” and various other vintage dramas online and over some terrestrial stations. Here are a few suggestions of both classic and contemporary radio dramas:
Radio Drama Revivial: Airing on community radio station WMPG-FM in Portland, Maine (and via podcast), this show highlights contemporary radio drama, some vintage material (dating back to the 1980s), as well as reworkings of old-time shows.
Twilight Zone Radio Dramas: These contemporary radio dramas came to the airwaves and satellite radio in 2002. Check this list to see if your local stations may be airing these. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, KNEW broadcasts Twilight Zone radio from midnight to 2am on Sunday mornings.
Old Time Radio Drama: Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) airs old time radio drama from the 1930s to 1950s every Saturday and Sunday night from 8 to 11pm Central time.
Unshackled!: Apparently the longest running radio drama, the religious-themed “Unshackled!” has been produced by Chicago’s Pacific Garden Mission since 1950. It can be heard on more than 1800 terrestrial stations all over the world and has even been translated into Arabic, Japanese, Polish, Spanish, Russian, Romanian, and Korean.
Northwestern University Radio Drama (N.U.R.D): Airing on college radio station WNUR, N.U.R.D. produces radio drama every week using both new and vintage scripts from Northwestern University students. The show airs on Sunday afternoons at 5:30pm Central time on WNUR in Chicago (and via podcast) and you can catch a selection of archived shows here.
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