ADVENTURE GENRE – RADIO:
You were searching the jungle for lost treasure, or flying an airplane chasing the enemy, or maybe even just flying – without an airplane! Thrills, chills and excitement were yours, all from the safety of your own home, when you enjoyed adventure radio programs.
Adventure programs usually had a central character who was embroiled in many exciting adventures as he sought to reach his goal. Especially in the early days of the 20th century, the adventures the heroes participated in were beyond the experience of the listening audience. After all, world travel wasn’t that easy, there just weren’t all that many airplanes around, and space exploration was still a dream.
Airing on the radio from 1932 to 1950, Chandu the Magician was an adventure program enjoyed by young and old alike. The program starred Gayne Whitman as American adventurer Frank Chandler. After learning occult secrets from a Yogi in India, and possessing supernatural skills, Frank took the name of Chandu and set out to "go forth with his youth and strength to conquer the evil that threatens mankind".
Tarzan of the Apes was a favorite of adventure fans, airing from 1932 to 1936 and then again from 1951 o 1953. Based on the stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the program featuring the stories of Lord Greystoke starred James and Joan Pierce, the son-in-law and daughter of Burroughs. The episodes were action packed adventures of Tarzan in deepest, darkest Africa.
A weekly serial, The Air Adventures of Jimmie Allen aired from 1933 t0 1947 in 15-minute episodes. Residents of Kansas City, Missouri, World War I flying aces Bob Burtt and Bill Moore came up with the idea for the program while they were at a party. Jimmie Allen was a 16 year old boy wonder and pilot who solved crimes together with his pals Speed Robertson and Flash Lewis. Jimmie Allen was portrayed by John Frank, the programs director, and the parts of Speed and Flash were played by Robert Fiske and Shelby Storck.
Terry and the Pirates, airing from 1937 to 1948, was an adventure series with plenty of action, suspense and mystery. The stories were set in the mysterious Orient where Terry was constantly battling the dreadful Dragon Lady. Then, as America entered World War II, the focus changed to Terry fighting mightily to defeat the plots of Nazi spies and saboteurs.
Possibly the best known and best loved superhero of all time, Superman appeared on the radio from 1939 to 1951. Disguised as Clark Kent, an everyday man, Superman could change into his cape and tights at will and thereby become the super hero the world needed to defeat the bad guys and make things right. He battled evil wherever it surfaced, and during the war years he, too, had to uncoil secret plots and defeat evil members of the Axis forces. Interestingly, the identity of the actor portraying the man of steel was also kept a secret for the first seven years the series was on the radio. It wasn’t until 1946 that Bud Collyer admitted in an interview with Time magazine that he was Superman.
Of course, there are many other adventure programs that were popular on the radio, such as Sears Radio Theater, General Mills Radio Adventure Theater, The American Trail, and The Mercury Theatre on the Air.
For listeners everywhere it was a thrill to hear these characters as they lived by their wits and honed their skills in adventure after adventure. Check out the selection of programs and episodes available on Matinee Classics and enjoy some good old fashioned entertainment. And come back often -- we’re adding new content as fast as we can!