Saturday, May 20, 2017


Nightfall is the title of a radio drama series produced and aired by CBC Radio from July 1980 to June 1983. While primarily a supernatural/horror series, Nightfall featured some episodes in other genres, such as science fiction, mystery, fantasy, and human drama. One episode was even adapted from a folk song by Stan Rogers. Some of Nightfall's episodes were so terrifying that the CBC registered numerous complaints and some affiliate stations dropped it. Despite this, the series went on to become one of the most popular shows in CBC Radio history, running 100 episodes that featured a mix of original tales and adaptations of both classic and obscure short stories.

 Nightfall was the brainchild of producer Bill Howell, who was best known at the time for his work on CBC Playhouse and the cult favorite adventure series, Johnny Chase: Secret Agent of Space. (Howell later went on to be executive producer of CBC Radio's highly-popular series, The Mystery Project, which ran from 1992 to 2004.) When CBC Radio was revamped and given an expanded budget in 1980, Howell approached the newly appointed head of radio drama, Susan Rubes, about his idea for a supernatural/horror anthology series that would push the envelope. Though not a fan of the horror genre, Rubes recognized a hit when she saw one and gave Howell the green light to begin production.

Bill Howell served as executive producer of Nightfall at CBC Toronto for the first two seasons. The reins were passed for the third season to veteran CBC Radio producer Don Kowalchuk (Doctor Bundolo's Pandemonium Medicine Show) at CBC Vancouver.

Nightfall featured two hosts during its run. The Toronto years (1980–1982) were hosted by "the mysterious Luther Kranst", a character created by Bill Howell's devious imagination and played by character actor Henry Ramer. For its Vancouver run (1982–1983), Don Kowalchuk worked with voice actor Bill Reiter to develop the character of Frederick Hende.

Nightfall episode plot summaries can be found here -

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Weird Circle

The Weird Circle premise is noteworthy: an anthology of classic, supernatural mystery thrillers from the pens of the world's best known and respected supernatural fiction authors. The scripts--with rare few exceptions--acquit themselves well for the genre. 

The supernatural thriller genre was highly popular throughout the mid-1930s, right on through the mid-1950s over Radio.

 The Weird Circle was an RCA-syndicated feature from RCA Recorded Program Services, the independent programming production division of RCA Victor. Its sound quality, voice talent, and production values meet traditionally high RCA standards. As a consequence of those standards, the resulting recordings have stood the test of time--a huge bonus for Golden Age Radio transcriptionists, preservationists and collectors.

 The program was reportedly recorded out of RCA's New York Studios, and almost immediately licensed to both NBC-Red/RCA [WEAF] and the Mutual Broadcasting System [WOR and W-G-N], consisting of two, 39-script seasons of 25-minute productions, for local sponsors and networks alike. As illustrated in the Provenances section, NBC [RCA] created their own set of transcription disks as well, as did the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS).

 Sponsors varied as the series was picked up throughout affiliate stations across the U.S. One incarnation of note was Ogden Fine Cut Tobacco's sponsorship of The Weird Circle, packaged as the Odgen's Playhouse. Ogden's Playhouse didn't air the run in transcription order over U.S. stations. It aired other features under the Ogden's Playhouse banner as well. In Canada however, Ogden's Playhouse aired The Weird Circle series weekly without other intervening productions. Other sponsors of note were the Farr Ice Cream Company [West Coast], 7-Up [Arizona], and Remar's Bread [West Coast].

 The Weird Circle's earliest airing appears to have been over Chicago's W-G-N, a founding Mutual Broadcasting System station, as a sustaining program for its first season (the program aired as two syndicated seasons of productions). Previous difficulty in nailing down the program's episode sequence and earliest broadcast run are probably contributing factors in the poor results of past efforts to document this otherwise highly collectable program.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Bob Hope Show

Bob Hope, born Leslie Townes Hope, (May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003) was an English-born American comedian and actor who appeared on Broadway, in vaudeville, movies, television, and on the radio. He was noted for his numerous United Service Organizations (USO) shows entertaining American military personnel—he made 57 tours for the USO between 1942 and 1988. Throughout his long career, he was honored for this work. In 1996, the U.S. Congress declared him the "first and only honorary veteran of the U.S. armed forces."

Over a career spanning 60 years (1934 to 1994), Hope appeared in over 70 films and shorts, including a series of "Road" movies co-starring Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. In addition to hosting the Academy Awards fourteen times, he appeared in many stage productions and television roles, and was the author of fourteen books. He participated in the sports of golf and boxing, and owned a small stake in his hometown baseball team, the Cleveland Indians. He was married to Grace Troxell from 1933 until 1934 and to Dolores Hope from 1934 until his death.

In the early days, Hope's career included appearances on stage in Vaudeville shows and Broadway productions. He began performing on the radio in 1934 and switched to television when that medium became popular in the 1950s. He began doing regular TV specials in 1954, and hosted the Academy Awards fourteen times in the period from 1941 to 1978. Overlapping with this was his movie career, spanning the years 1934 to 1972, and his USO tours, which he did from 1942 to 1988.

Hope's career in broadcasting began on radio in 1934. His first regular series for NBC Radio was the Woodbury Soap Hour in 1937, a 26-week contract. A year later, The Pepsodent Show Starring Bob Hope began, and Hope signed a ten-year contract the show's sponsor, Lever Brothers. The show became the top radio program in the country. Regulars on the series included Jerry Colonna and Barbara Jo Allen as spinster Vera Vague. Hope continued his lucrative career in radio through to the 1950s, when radio's popularity was overshadowed by television.

For a more detailed account of the legendary Bob Hope's personal and professional life, start with his Wikipedia Page.