Links for fans and researchers into "Radio's Outstanding Theater of Thrills" that aired on CBS Radio from 1942 to 1962
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.
Contact us at suspenseOTR@gmail.com
The short URL that can be used for this page is https://tinyurl.com/DrJoeSuspense
This is a research site (c)2020, Joseph W. Webb, Ph.D. Please publicize this site to OTR fans far and wide to increase the interest and enjoyment of this legendary radio series and the golden age of radio era.
The Suspense presentation from SPERDVAC 2019 is available on YouTube and as downloads
Learn about the eras of Suspense, the CBS Blacklist and how it affected the series, the allegorical episodes about it, two fascinating Suspense scriptwriters (a high school teacher... and a San Quentin inmate!), and the strange history of the 60-minute episodes.
Click on the arrow in the image for YouTube or click here
Listen to the latest interview at the Radio Memories podcast...
and hear a great sounding version of Three O'Clock featuring an incredible performance by Van Heflin. Be sure to visit the special resource page for the podcast that has links to the topics discussed in the recording. Listen to the podcast (click here) ; there is also a podcast resource page (click here)
The Suspense Log Project Continues!
This project is almost 20 years old, and now enough is established to the point where a log that captures many of the behind the scenes changes and episode characteristics that show how special the series is. Check out the draft log by clicking here. It will never be truly finished -- updates are being made every day -- but it's so rich with information that it can mesmerize a Suspense fan for hours. It's amazing what new things we've learned about schedule changes, title revisions, changes to casting, and backstories. ENJOY!
Suspense discussion on YesterdayUSA in January 2020 ... details are at https://sites.google.com/view/dr-joe-on-yesterdayusa/home with supporting information, documents, and episode downloads. It's a fun, 2-hour, leisurely discussion... about the Hollywood Blacklist and producer Bill Robson's experience (download the letter he wrote to Edward R. Murrow where he asks for help!), how Yellow Wallpaper was adapted from a highly controversial short story that challenged the late-1800s practices of psychology, the quirky Suspense scripter Edgar Scott Flohr who was a safe-cracker and forger, and much more. ENJOY!!
New 2022 Edition to be released in Fall 2021!
2020 edition chaptersIntroductionA Collector’s Brief History of Suspense REVISEDCollector Resources REVISEDThe Best Unfair and Superficial History of Suspense You’ll Ever Need NEWThe Missing Shows REVISED AND EXPANDEDThe 60-Minute Suspense Episodes: How Roma Left and Auto-Lite Saved the Day REVISED AND EXPANDEDThe Search: The Long-Sought Missing Segment of the Hour-Long Episode NEWWhat Kinds of Ratings did Suspense Have? NEWSuspense MagazineSuspense Facts You Never Knew REVISED AND EXPANDEDEast and West: When Did Suspense have Separate Live Performances for the Coasts? NEWSuspense in the Movies REVISED AND EXPANDEDThe First Summer of Suspense, 1942Fury and Sound, A Most Curious Missing Episode of Suspense REVISEDMysterious Authors: Who are They? REVISEDSorry, Wrong Number: The Famous Suspense Episode that Spanned the Media and the Generations REVISEDEpisodic Curiosities REVISED AND EXPANDEDSuspense and Escape Shared ScriptsThe Sad Case of John Garfield and the Concerto for Killer and Eyewitnesses NEWThe Robson Era NEWSuspense on Television NEWA Special Word to New OTR Collectors and Fans: Join in the Hunt!About the Author
Resources by Dr. Joe Webb
Latest collection list (click here)
The Suspense log
List of missing recordings of all types (click here)
AFRS disc number spreadsheet resource (click here)
Suspense TV show spreadsheet (click here)
Suspense Fall 1958 show date correction research (click here)
Roma Wines 2x/week log (December 1943 to September 1944) (click here)
The same day Suspense East and West Coast broadcasts (click here)
William N. Robson era had more repeats than new productions
NEW! Suspense and the Blacklist
How many performances of Sorry, Wrong Number were there?... and more!
There was not a "correct" Sorry, Wrong Number west coast broadcast in 1943
Suspense Magazine PDFs at archive.org (click here)
RadioGoldindex Suspense page (click here) and search for "suspense"
Christine Miller's Escape-Suspense blog (click here)
Old Time Radio Review - Suspense pages (click here)
Blue Hours Productions Suspense new programs
American Radio Theater recreations of missing recordings (click here)
Radio Spirits currently available CD sets of Suspense (click here)
Old Time Radio Researchers 2015 Certified Suspense Set at archive.org
Martin Grams' Suspense: Twenty Years of Thrills and Chills (Amazon)
What Suspense Day Is It?Here's the list by calendar date of all Suspense episodes (click here)
Suspense at the MoviesClick here for a page that links to movies and television broadcasts that have some connection with the radio version of Suspense.
Collector online gathering places
Cobalt Club (click here)
Old Time Radio Researchers Facebook page (click here)
Interviews of collectors by Joe Webb (click here)
Interview of RadioClassics SiriusXM channel host Greg Bell (click here)
Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention, Hunt Valley, MD (click here)
GENERAL OTR RESEARCH RESOURCES
RadioGoldindex home page (click here)
Search Billboard magazine (click here)
Jerry Haendiges program logs page (click here)
OTRR log links; link goes direct to list without need to go to otrr.org (click here)
OTR logs (click here)
Andrew Steinberg's OTR Errors page (click here)
OTRR home page (click here)
New OTRR home page (click here)
OTRR First Lines Project (click here)
OTRR radio magazines and fanzines collection (click here)
OTRR Library (click here)
Search industry magazines with the Lantern search engine
Thom Whetston's AFRTS Archive blog (click here)
Harry MacKenzie The Directory of the Armed Forces Radio Service Series (click here)
Newspaper timetables as Acrobat PDF files (mainly WI State Journal) (click here)
Timetables for NY Times, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, Washington Post (click here)
John Dunning's Tune In Yesterday PDF download
OTR Plot Spot (click here)
Program Ratings 1926-1956 (click here to download PDF)
Books about the golden age of radio (click here)
My site about the series The Big Story (click here)
Status of the missing Suspense episodes: a missing episode is found!
The recent discovery of Fury and Sound reduces the number of missing single performance episodes from 14 to 13. There are other missing broadcasts (20), but those scripts were used at other times in the series. (Click here for more information on this unusual episode)
Scripts for all 13 missing episodes have been acquired through the dedicated work of researchers such as Don Ramlow, Martin Grams, OTR clubs, and various archives. They give us an opportunity to study and appreciate those episodes even if we cannot hear them. It is hoped that some of the missing episodes will be recreated.
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.
How many episodes have survived?
The count of Suspense broadcasts based on the log and research to this point is...
944 episodes (excludes the 1940 Forecast production, since Forecast was a regular CBS series and the format of that Suspense production was never used again)
1088 performances (east + west + national)
13 missing one-time episodes that still elude us to this day with 14 performances
20 missing episodes that were repeats, with 23 performances
0 missing episodes from the Roma 2x period, with 26 missing performances
Total missing episodes is 33, total missing performances is 63.
911 surviving episodes = 96.5% of the series
1025 found performances = 94.2% of the east, west, and national performances
That is an amazing number of surviving recordings considering the length of the series and the various disruptions it had in its two decades because of management issues, sponsor uncertainty, format changes, change in recording and broadcast technologies, and changes in production locations.
Identified recordings in circulation to date that are verified East Coast performances because of the mention to listeners to stay tuned for The FBI in Peace and War.
- 1946-10-31 Lazurus Walks EC (mentions FBIiP&W)
- 1946-11-07 Easy Money EC (mentions FBIiP&W)
- 1946-12-12 They Call Me Patrice (mentions FBIiP&W)
- 1946-12-19 Thing In The Window EC (mentions FBIiP&W)
- 1946-12-26 Philomel Cottage EC (mentions FBIiP&W)
- 1947-01-09 Will to Power (mentions FBIiP&W) EC
- 1947-01-16 Overture In Two Keys EC (mentions FBIiP&W)
- 1947-02-13 The ThirteenthSound EC (mentionsFBIiP&W)
- 1947-02-20 Always Room At The Top EC (mentions FBIiP&W)
- 1947-02-27 Three Faces At Midnight EC (mentions FBIiP&W)
- 1947-03-13 You Take Ballistics (mentions FBIiP&W)
- 1947-04-03 Swift Rise Of Eddie Albright EC (mentions FBIiP&W)
- 1947-04-24 Win Place and Murder EC (mentions FBIiP&W)
- 1947-05-01 Lady In Distress EC (mentions FBIiP&W)
- 1947-05-08 Dead Ernest (mentions FBIiP&W)
- 1947-05-15 Death At Live Oak (EC mentions FBIiP&W)
- 1947-05-22 Knight Comes Riding EC (mentions FBIiP&W)
- 1947-06-12 Stand-In EC (mentions FBIiP&W)
- 1947-06-19 Dead Of Night EC (mentions FBIiP&W)
- 1947-07-24 Murder By An Expert EC (mentions FBIiP&W)
How to detect some East and West Coast Performances
From August 23, 1945 through August 7, 1947, FBI in Peace and War (and its summer replacements) followed Suspense in the East and Central time zones. Many Suspense broadcasts, if there was still time in the program, urged listeners to stay tuned for FBIiP&W. Hearing this indicates that this was an East broadcast, definitively. If there is no mention, it can be either East or West, because the announcement could be left out if the director believed time was running out. The image shows how it appeared in the script.
Note how it's referred to as the "early show," with no mention of geography affected. The announcement usually was made in the very last moments of the broadcast, but it has been heard earlier depending on where the concluding Roma Wines commercial was in the script. When you listen to Suspense in that August 1945 to August 1947 period, please keep an ear out for the announcement, and let us know if it's an addition to what we have found so far. The list of recordings we have identified so far with FBIiP&W mentions is supplied for your convenience.
Without an in-show identifier of some kind, the only other way to identify East and West is by having the transcriptions with their original labels for verification. There are many shows in circulation that were recorded from transcriptions and the E/W status is noted in the file names. We appreciate the thoroughness of those collectors in documenting that source.
The spreadsheet of a spot check of newspaper timetables for the NY Times and the LA Times can be found by clicking here
An analysis of all of the East-West episodes can be found by clicking here.