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


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


Tarzan      153

Escape      159


Hopalong Cassidy      167

The Cisco Kid      172


Buck Rogers      179

Dimension X and X Minus One      185

Exploring Tomorrow      190


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.