A Classic Collection of Vintage Radio for Halloween

For those of you who want something spooky to listen to versus watch — or if you just want something a bit more abstract horror rather than TV-MA-wow-the-prothetics-team-outdid-themselves than our previous mention, we have something that should cover your whole evening passing out candy to ghosts and goblins coming to your door.

We’ve long touted the wonderful audio resource that is The Big Broadcast, a four-hour collection of vintage radio fiction that’s been broadcasting on DC-area station WAMU every Sunday for decades. They do a great job of curating bona fide classic essentials along with hidden gems… and putting them all into context. Naturally, their broadcasts around holidays are especially good.

Halloween is no exception — and this past Sunday’s episode has some of the all-time greats that you should treat yourself to if you’ve never heard them. They’re also a delight to hear again.

This four-hour collection includes “The House in Cypress Canyon” from Suspense, a tale of terror that sweeps up a husband and wife in a way that mashes together so many ideas in such a fresh way, you won’t believe it was produced in 1946. We don’t want to say much more than that.

Then there’s Quiet Please‘s “The Thing on the Fourble Board,” — one of the all-time greats of audio horror. Don’t worry if you don’t know what a fourble board is. Both it and much more will become clear to you. This is a tale where you can know exactly how it will end and you’ll still get goosebumps when you hear… well, you’ll know it when you hear it.

From the lonely horror to noisy, chittering horror, we get scare maestro Vincent Price starring in “Three Skeleton Key” on Escape as he paints a perfect picture of an isolated lighthouse beset by ravenous rats.

They finish up the broadcast with what may be one of the most famous radio fiction episodes of all time: the 1938 Mercury Theatre production of “War of the Worlds” starring Orson Welles.

If that’s not enough, you can also listen to our modern, DC-specific version of “War of the Worlds” produced back in 2018, but don’t delay on this particular episode of The Big Broadcast. They’ll only keep the archive copy up for a few weeks.

Happy Halloween, listeners!

Back to the Future with Audio Theater

The New York Times did a piece this past weekend about all sorts of old radio theater you can listen to on the Interwebs for free.

Old Time Radio aka Vintage Radio is, of course, one of the inspirations for Jabberwocky Audio Theater (along with Mind’s Eye productions and some others). So if you like old time radio, you should definitely check out what we suggested they check out: The Big Broadcast every Sunday from 7-11pm ET on WAMU 88.5 FM (luckily, they keep their shows archived for about four weeks so you can check things out).

And if you want to tell the Times that there’s a bunch of wonderful contemporary audio theater, hey, that’s good too.

Some Classic Audio Frights for Your Halloween

Audio drama is often described as “the theater of the mind” and some of the best horror stories leave things up to one’s imagination. So it really shouldn’t come as any surprise that there are some top notch horror radio programs from the days of yore.

When we think of rating things at PG: parental guidance suggested, these two favorites are some of the programs we’re thinking about:

Suspense – The House in Cypress Canyon

Escape – Three Skeleton Key (with Vincent Price)

Also, if you’ve thought to yourself, “Yeah, these are classics and all, but what if I want vintage radio with Australian voices?” Well, you’re in luck!

Finally, we’re happy to announce that another local theater company, The Arlington Players, is getting in on the War of the Worlds action, using the original 1938 Howard Koch script used so successfully by Orson Welles back in the day.

You can hear it streaming live Halloween night (tomorrow!) at 6pm ET on our home station: WERA 96.7!

Remember, stay safe and spook responsibly.

The Sound of French Horns… and the Smell of Gunsmoke!

The Library of Congress is an amazing institution and works hard to preserve just about everything, but even they need to prioritize.

To that end, they have registries of films and other media that they take extra care to preserve. Every year, about 25 works are added to these registries due to their cultural significance.

This year, the National Recording Registry added 25 songs and assorted audio works. Their selection is always eclectic, but two items caught our eye in their recent announcement.

One was a hard-hitting episode from the first year of Gunsmoke called “The Cabin.” Written by John Meston, it involves Marshall Dillon taking refuge in the titular cabin during a blizzard, only to encounter two very bad men. We won’t go into any more detail than that for people who haven’t heard it, but rest assured, this was a great example of how Gunsmoke wasn’t going to be about a fanciful, happy-go-lucky West.

The second selection that caught our eye was the whole album Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America Volume One: The Early Years. If you’ve never heard it, you are in for a treat. As Mark Evanier says, “…it’s either the best history lesson disguised as a comedy album or the best comedy album disguised as a history lesson.”