Radio by the Book

Adaptations of Literature and Fiction on the Airwaves

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About the Book

During the first half of the 20th century, radio’s hunger for captivating characters and stories could not be sated. Three national networks and dozens of independent stations had to fill a vast expanse of air time with comedy, adventure, mystery, drama and music, night after night. It’s no surprise that producers and writers looked to outside sources, drawing some of old-time radio’s most beloved characters (Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, Hopalong Cassidy, Buck Rogers) directly from books.
This work examines individual characters that jumped from prose to radio and a number of programs that specialized in dramatizing literature. It covers mystery and detective shows, adventure stories, westerns, and science fiction, and anthology shows that adapted novels by such greats as Twain, Steinbeck and Dickens. The text explores how the writers and producers approached the source material—what they changed, what they kept and what they left out.

About the Author(s)

Tim DeForest lives in Sarasota, Florida, and is the circulation manager of the library at the Ringling School of Art and Design. His writings cover a variety of subjects, including radio, literature, comics, military history and the Wild West.

Bibliographic Details

Tim DeForest
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 246
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3972-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0759-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1
Introduction      3

PART I: MYSTERY
The Saint      7
Flashgun Casey      13
The Falcon      19
Boston Blackie      23
The Lone Wolf      28
Frank Merriwell      33
Bulldog Drummond      36
Charlie Chan      41
Mr. Moto      46
Perry Mason      52
Nick Carter      58
Philo Vance      63
Ellery Queen      69
Hercule Poirot      74
Nero Wolfe      79
Sherlock Holmes      85
Mr. and Mrs. North      91
The Thin Man      97
The Fat Man      101
Sam Spade      105
Philip Marlowe      113
Michael Shayne      119
The Shadow      124
The Avenger      132
The Green Lama      136
Fu Manchu      141
Molle Mystery Theater      146

PART II: ADVENTURE
Tarzan      153
Escape      159

PART III: WESTERNS
Hopalong Cassidy      167
The Cisco Kid      172

PART IV: SCIENCE FICTION
Buck Rogers      179
Dimension X and X Minus One      185
Exploring Tomorrow      190

PART V: GENERAL ANTHOLOGIES
The Damon Runyon Theater      195
Favorite Story      199
The Mercury Theatre on the Air and The Campbell Playhouse      203
The World’s Great Novels and NBC University Theater      211
Mystery in the Air      215
The Weird Circle      218
NBC Presents: Short Story      221
Miscellaneous Adaptations      225

Bibliography      229
Index      231

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “A new and most welcome contribution to the literature of the genre…a lively and entertaining read…. Fans of old time radio will savor DrForest’s attention to detail, accuracy and impressive research”—Scarlet
  • “Ought to be on every vintage radio collector’s bookshelf”—The Old Radio Times
  • “A delightful read”—SPERDVAC Radiogram