Old Time Radio Takes a Bite out of Crime

“Take a Bite Out of Crime”

The Shadow: “The Circle of Death”

Dragnet: “The Big Badge”

Original Air Dates: November 28, 1937; May 4, 1950

Performance Date: March 15, 2009

The Shadow was a popular radio drama that enjoyed a life in many mediums. It began as a collection of serialized dramas in pulp magazines in the 1930s, but the version that most people remember is the radio program that began airing on the Mutual Broadcasting Network on September 26, 1937 and ran through 1954. It starred a 22 year old Orson Welles as Lamont Cranston as a weathy man about town who doubled as an invisible avenger. Welles left the program in 1938 and was followed by Bret Morrison, John Archer, and Steve Courtleigh.

The radio version of The Shadow introduced several female characters into “The Shadow's” world, notably Margo Lane (initially played by Agnes Moorehead). She was Cranston's love interest, crime-solving partner and the only person who knows his identity as “The Shadow.”

The episode we presented is from the first few months of the show's broadcast and includes Welles and Moorehead in the roles that helped make them famous.

Dragnet remains one of the most famous and influential police procedural drama in media history, giving millions of audience members a feel for the boredom and drudgery, as well as the danger and heroism, of real-life police work. It ran on radio from June 3, 1949 through February 26, 1957 and on television from December 6, 1951 through August 23, 1959.

Dragnet was created by Jack Webb, who also starred as Sergeant Joe Friday. Friday's first partner was portrayed by Barton Yarborough. The program included specialized terminology (MO, APB, etc.) in almost every episode. The terms were rarely explained, leaving the audience to figure out their meaning through the context, which was rare for the time. These terms quickly became part of the American lexicon thanks to Dragnet.

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