Crime does not pay...unless you are creating radio mystery programs. There were lots of these during the heyday of radio - from the 20s through to today - believe it or not. CBC radio has a current offering of mysteries - The Mystery Project - broadcast on Thursdays at 3:30 p.m (EST) and Fridays at 10:00 p.m. (EST) on CBC Radio One.
But in the early days popular fiction writers brought their detectives to the new medium of radio. Thus Rex Stout's "Nero Wolfe", Walter Gibson's "The Shadow", Dashiell Hammett's "The Thin Man" and "Sam Spade" and of course, Conan Doyle's "Sherlock Holmes" were only a few of the legendary detectives on the airwaves. Remember too, Phillip Marlowe, Richard Diamond, Philo Vance, Perry Mason, Ellery Queen, and Boston Blackie. And of course, Dick Tracy!
You may or may not have heard of Charlie Chan, Mr. Moto, The Green Lama, The Whisperer, The Whistler, The Blue Beetle, Michael Shayne.
When a network didn't have the main star, look-alikes were invented. Thus "The Fat Man" who was as fat as Nero Wolfe and "The Avenger" who sounded much like "The Shadow". And "Mr. and Mrs. North" were much like Nick and Nora Charles of "The Thin Man".
Famous and not so famous movie stars had detective programs. Alan Ladd had "Box 13", Sidney Greenstreet was "Nero Wolfe", Basil Rathbone was "Sherlock Holmes", and Jack Webb was Joe Friday on "Dragnet", "Jeff Reagan, Investigator", musician "Pete Kelly's Blues" and "Johnny Madero". And Frank Sinatra was "Rocky Fortune".
Or, foreign detectives were imported. Thus the American radio series on Agatha Christie's "Hercule Poirot" and "Lord Peter Whimsey".
Even magicians Blackstone and Dunninger had their mystery programs. Blackstone taught the kids a new magic trick at the end of every program.
Crime programs also portrayed popular professions - thus "David Harding, Counterspy", "Famous Jury Trials", "Mr. District Attorney", "Calling All Cars", "Whitehall 1212", "Your FBI" and "The FBI in War and Peace" and "Dragnet".
Even the kids had their sleuths - "Challenge of the Yukon" was the name for Sargeant Preston of the Mounties. There was "Jungle Jim" - basically a mystery set in the jungles of Africa, "Sky King" about a western airplane pilot, "Tailspin Tommy", "Terry and The Pirates" and "The Air Adventures of Jimmy Allen".
And let's not forget the villains! There was the infamous Dr. Fu Manchu. And Orson Welles had "The Black Museum" which told the tale of ordinary objects used in terrible crimes. And Harry Lime, "The Third Man" - a scoundrel in post World War II Europe.
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