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Suspense Show Summary

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Suspense Show Summary Empty Suspense Show Summary

Post by Seamus on 3/15/2019, 1:29 pm

Folks this summary was written by our very own Suspense expert greybelt.

Suspense was "Radio's Outstanding Theater of Thrills" and aired on CBS Radio from 1942 to 1962. It was an anthology series with high production values ranging from its scripts, music, direction, and its performances. From 1943 to 1954, it relied on some of Hollywood's biggest movie stars in lead roles. Many times these stars would appear against type, often having dramatic performances by comedians and musical stars. After the national advertising sponsors left in 1954, the show still retained its high professional standards with radio's skilled skilled writers, directors, and technicians at the helm. Suspense may be the most recorded and listened to program of radio's golden and silver ages, first with its initial broadcasts, and then rebroadcasts for decades over the Armed Forces Radio Service, giving it an audience around the world. Through the efforts of fans, nearly all 900+ episodes have been saved in some way. There is still much work to be done to find improved recordings of the series, especially for the years 1957 to 1962. We are always seeking upgraded disc recordings, airchecks, home recordings, scripts, AFRS discs and recordings, and especially information about the few remaining missing episodes.

The many eras of Suspense

Suspense went through many discernible and different periods that reflected the visions of its producers and directors, the needs of advertisers, the production technologies available, and the tastes and preferences of the radio audience. Because the program lasted 20 years, the changing nature of radio's role in the entertainment industry can also be understood in a grander media context.

It was not until the show moved to Hollywood under the full direction of William Spier that it became a star-driven powerhouse. When Roma discontinued its sponsorship at the end of 1947, the show was cancelled, but some CBS executives thought an hour-long format would work and also fill open air time on Saturday evening. It was a disaster, but William Paley was negotiating behind the scenes with Auto-Lite for a triumphant return to the half-hour format that summer under Tony Leader, followed by a return of Spier for one season.   Elliott Lewis would take over the production, and then give way to Norman Macdonnell, followed by Antony Ellis. Radio legend Bill Robson led the series at a time when budgets were cut and over half of the broadcasts were new (and very good) productions of prior scripts. The big Hollywood stars were gone, for the most part, but some marvelous and highly skilled radio veterans took their place. Fans came to enjoy Robson's introductory comments for each episode. The show returned to New York, where it had started, for the Fall 1959 season until its final cancellation in September 1962 for some good shows mixed with  some rather pedestrian others.

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Collecting and Listening to the Show

The Cobalt Club has an active swap post running for Suspense. Curated by greybelt and Cobaltians who are working hard to provide clean source material. Upgraded shows are being posted daily and a lot of great articles and newspaper clippings from the era added to provide that historical context for the show. An amazing resource for any collector.

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For the best Suspense resource on the Interwebs go here

Suspense Collectors Companion

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