You may remember the CBS Radio Mystery Theater hosted by E. G. Marshall, which aired on from 1974 to 1982. They did some wonderful radio theater mostly in horror, mystery and classical literature genres. Among the best of their horror presentations were the horror shows, especially those that ran on Halloween. An example of one such episode is The Witches’ Sabbath Witches’ Sabbath (Episode 0544) October 30, 1976.
Another great one is, I Warn You Three Times (Episode 0007), which first ran on January 12, 1974.
Yet another fine example of witchcraft-related horror is The Therapeutic Cat (Episode 0736), starring Fred Gwynne who is famous for his role as Herman Munster, which first ran on November 7, 1977.
Those old shows, some with the commercials and news broadcasts of the day still included, may be found at www.cbsrmt.com. If you remember and enjoyed the horror radio shows presented by the CBS Radio Mystery Theater, then you will probably be happy to learn that there were many earlier horror radio shows.
Reputedly, the very earliest horror radio show series was The Witch’s Tale, which featured a witch named “Nancy the Witch of Salem” and her “wise, black cat Satan” as the hosts. The role of Nancy was played by a stage actress named Adelaide Fitz-Allen. The series ran from 1931 – 1938 and less than 10% of the original series survives according to Radio Horror Hosts at the website, www.radiohorrorhosts.com/witchtale.html.
While a lot of these shows were lost, quite a few of them are preserved at Relic Radio, www.relicradio.com and Radio Lovers, www.radiolovers.com. You will, also, find a few episodes at the address for Radio Horror Hosts, above along with more details about this excellent series.
One of the best of the more modern classic horror radio shows is an excellent Canadian series called Nightfall, which is from the 1980s. It seems in many ways similar to the CBS Radio Mystery Theater, but the episodes are consistently better and they are entirely in the horror genre. The episodes may be found at the Internet Archives, http://archive.org/details/Nightfall-cbcRadioProgram-episodes.
Other excellent horror radio shows include:
- Beyond Midnight
- The Black Mass
- Weird Circle
- The Sealed Book
- The Hermit’s Cave
- The Whistler
- Lights Out
- Mystery in the Air
- Dark Fantasy
- Beyond Midnight
- Molle’s Mystery Theater
- Quiet Please
- The Clock
- Hall of Fantasy
- Lux Radio Theater
- The Price of Fear (featuring Vincent Price)
- CBS Radio Mystery Theater
Where to hear classic radio horror classics:
The Monster Club: www.themonsterclub.com
Relic Radio’s Horror Archives: www.relicradio.com/otr/show/horror/
Horror Theatre: www.horror-theatre.com
CBS Radio Mystery Theater: www.cbsrmt.com
Old Radio World: www.oldradioworld.com
My Old Radio: www.myoldradio.com
Radio Lovers: www.radiolovers.com
Radio Horror Hosts: www.radiohorrorhosts.com
Internet Archives: www.archive.org (search for horror radio)
Halloween Horror Collection from the archives: http://archive.org/details/HalloweenHorror_859
Radio theater has not gone away and there are a few theater companies still performing radio and podcasts. Atlanta Radio Theater Company, Campfire Radio and the Shoestring Radio Theater are the best I’ve run across.
Where to hear modern radio horror theater:
Atlanta Radio Theatre Company: (www.artc.org) founded in 1984. They perform shows monthly and you can find past performances in their podcast archive.
Campfire Radio (http://campfireradiotheater.podbean.com), especially for your ipod.
Shoestring Radio Theater in San Francisco (shoestring.org) performs a brand new show ever week, which can be heard in their archives or on the actual radio.
Radio Drama Revival (www.radiodramarevival.com) is another modern radio theater company, but I am very disappointed in this one. I listened to two shows (Podcast 307, Ghost of a Chance and Episode 302, A Son’s Long Trip Home, and a Dark Ride), both of which were full of foul language, therefore, I cannot entirely recommend it. Some of these shows are written by somewhat well-known popular authors, but if you object to the arbitrary use obscene and foul language in the arts, as I do, then I recommend trying others.
Overall, the original horror classics are still the best, and if you like your entertainment free of offensive language, they are the very best.