Sit down, close your eyes and let your mind form the images as you relive the golden age of radio programs. Each week we'll feature a different and exciting program in MP3 format. Just click on the radio image below to be transported back in time.

This Week

 

Suspense

 

The Dunwich Horror

November 01, 1945

 

Suspense is one of the classics of old time radio. Some fans have special favorites in the thriller/chiller/macabre genre, but all will agree that Suspense did it best. The guiding light of this show was William Spier, who developed the formula into a human drama that attracted the finest of Hollywood's elite as well as the cream of radio's great actors.

Orson Welles was in many episodes, and Cary Grant was quoted in 1943, "If I ever do any more radio work, I want to it on Suspense, where I get a good chance to act." Spier's method with his show's stars was to keep them under-rehearsed, somewhat uneasy. In Suspense, as it were. He got great performances, and the show gained greater and greater popularity.

The Roma Wine sponsorship in 1943 allowed the show to create works that are a lasting part of the old time radio entertainment experience. All the production values were first class. The great Bernard Hermann did the musical scores. He previously had worked with Orson Welles in his Mercury Theater series, and went on to do of Alfred Hitchcock film fame. Lucian Moraweck did many of the greatest episode scores.

The "Man in Black" is your host, reminding one of the many thriller show presenters, but Suspense was the best of the bunch, and never did the show lapse into over-the-top melodrama. William Spier was so deft in his weaving of the spell of Suspense, he was dubbed "the Hitchcock of the airwaves."

Through the years, various directors were enlisted to create the show. Anton Leader directed in the late 40s, and Norman Macdonnell, producer/developer of The Adventures of Phillip Marlowe and Gunsmoke did stints in the 50s. William M. Robson, another radio great known for his writer/director credentials, finished the series in Hollywood in the late 50s, but the show continued from New York with radio's best actors under the production/direction of Bruno Zirato, Jr.

"Radio's outstanding theater of thrills" was just that. It was not a show about crime or detection like many others, nor was it a melodramatic horror show. In quality and tone, it's closest rival was Escape. Throughout its long run, Suspense was dedicated to the excellent script in which a normal person becomes involved in a situation that becomes beyond control. As the intro said, "We invite you to enjoy stories that keep you in .... SUSPENSE!


  Huntington Beach News


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