BW - EP131—002: Orson Welles Is The Shadow—The Shadow As Narrator


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In 1930 publisher Street and Smith decided to try radio with hopes of boosting pulp sales. Each week a drama would be adapted from an upcoming issue of Detective Story Magazine. They added a mysterious host, called The Shadow, and left the link to the magazine somewhat tenuous. The show premiered over CBS on July 31st, 1930. Ken Roberts soon became the announcer. It wasn’t long before people were asking for a Shadow magazine. Walter Gibson became its chief writer. Meanwhile, on the air, the host became Frank Readick. In the fall of 1931 Detective Story Hour became The Blue Coal Radio Review. The Shadow character proved so popular, beginning on Thursday October 1st, 1931 at 9:30PM, he also narrated Street and Smith’s Love Story Hour. In January 1932, the first program using The Shadow as its title debuted on CBS. That fall it shifted to NBC, and then back to CBS in 1934. The success led to copycats. People kept asking for The Shadow to appear in the dramatic portions of the broadcasts. By then Gibson was writing pulp stories which featured the Shadow as the crime fighting hero. The series disappeared from CBS airwaves on March 27th, 1935. It wouldn’t reappear until the fall of 1937.

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