The Whistler Files

This is an appreciation of the popular radio series that ran from 1942 to 1955. Primarily a west coast program, it had movie and television spinoffs and other regional radio productions that brought the character to national attention. It was a top-notch effort that featured radio's best actors and scripters and did not rely on Hollywood star power for its reputation. The Whistler was known for its surprise endings for characters who trapped themselves in their nefarious deeds.

Presentation Video "13 Notes About the Whistler" by Karl Schadow and Joe Webb delivered at MANC 2019 is Now Available at YouTube

Just click the red play button that appears when you mouse over the center of the image.

Other formats for slides and audio

  • MP3 Audio of presentation 128kps (50MB click here) OR 64kps (25MB click here)

  • PDF Download of slides (click here)

  • .zip file of audio clips used in the presentation (click here)

  • Powerpoint Show file with full narration (big file 65MB; click here)

  • Powerpoint Show file, slides only (15MB; click here)

  • MP4 Video file (really big 470MB; click here)

  • Learn more about researcher Karl Schadow in this 14 minute interview (MP3, click here). Karl is known for his authorship of booklets for Radio Spirits CD sets, presentations he makes as an active member of the Metro DC OTR Club, and for his professional media research in copyrights and history. He was profiled at the Library of Congress blog (click here).

New Log of "The Whistler" Now Available (as of October 28, 2020)

This updated log of The Whistler series is available as a Google Sheet workbook (click here). It is in the form of a spreadsheet workbook and can be downloaded in many formats such as Microsoft Excel. (Please note that some formatting may not be retained in the download and minor adjustments might be necessary to duplicate the on-screen formatting; the data are unaffected).

These are the individual pages of the workbook:

  • Main series (through its history as a sustained, then Signal Oil sponsored, then sustained series)

  • WBBM Chicago

  • Summer 1946 replacement for The Jack Carson Show

  • Household Finance Corporation series

  • All episodes by date

  • All episodes by alphabetical

  • Missing episodes

Circulating episodes are identified as network, AFRS, USAFE, and Audio Arts syndications; there are notes for unclear or quirky characteristics, AFRS numbers, and a few programs for which two recordings exist that have different openings.

Please contact me regarding errors and oversights, and of course additional information about recordings that may not be in the collection that this log represents. (suspenseotr@gmail.com)

For background on the series, please view the 2019 presentation from the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention, available at YouTube. The information in this log is more-up-to-date based on additional research that corrects and enhances some of the information there.

This log will be regularly updated as new information is acquired.

Timeline of The Whistler in all of its media formats

"The Whistler" Information and other Resources

The Whistler television series

  • 1954-1955 The Whistler television episodes at YouTube (click here)

  • List of known surviving TV episodes (spreadsheet) (click here)

The Whistler movies

How Many Radio Episodes of The Whistler have Survived?

NOTE: Updated on November 7, 2020 (a prior chart is in the September 14, 2019 presentation). Surviving figure includes network, AFRS/AFRTS, USAFE, airchecks, syndicated, and other recordings. Many episodes have survived in multiple formats, but each episode is counted only once.

Recently Located "Missing" Episodes

Click title to listen to program

Star Shadow 1944-07-22: This is a home recording of a Signal Oil broadcast that was in very bad condition (severe hum). It was recovered to be listenable through modern sound processing techniques. A sample of the original sound can be heard in the previously cited YouTube presentation. (Soundcloud)

'Til Death Do Us Part 1944-07-30: This is an episode from the Signal Oil series, edited to become part of AFRS Mystery Playhouse. This title was used three different times on The Whistler but each was a unique storyline. The main character in this episode is named Royce Pargill. (Soundcloud)

The Great Zantini 1948-09-08: From AFRS disc #38 from the series, and stars Joseph Kearns. This is extracted from the Signal Oil broadcast; the HFC broadcast which starred Frank Lovejoy is still missing. (YouTube)

NEWLY AVAILABLE! (October 2020) Many of the mid-1950s episodes have been available only as home recorded airchecks broadcast over Armed Forces Radio and sponsored by USAFE for its educational programs for service personnel. These were 1960s rebroadcasts of Whistler programs. Better copies have recently become available and they have been audio processed for better sound. The audio quality is still not the best, but it is an improvement. They are available at archive.org and may be listened to or downloaded from there. That page has additional background information about this era of the series. There were new episodes discovered in this collection of recordings:

  • 1954-07-11 Out of the Past USAFE home mic rec (very low quality)
  • 1954-09-12 Landslide USAFE
  • 1955-03-03 Alibi USAFE
  • 1955-03-17 A Matter of Odds USAFE
  • 1955-04-07 Search for an Unknown USAFE
  • 1955-05-19 A Case for Mr Carrington USAFE (now in addition to the AFRS version)
  • 1955-06-23 The Cliffs of Wayrum USAFE
  • 1955-09-08 Design for Murder USAFE (now in addition to the AFRS version)

If you're not familiar with how to download files from archive.org, download a helpful PDF file that illustrates the process.

The Three Early TV Broadcasts

In the 1940s, television was a local enterprise, with many experimental productions that were seen only by that specific city's audience. That audience was small, just because only a small percentage of households could afford them. Broadcast executives knew that TV was going to be their future, but they were unsure about what would be broadcast and were still developing production techniques, mostly by trial and error. They naturally thought about bringing radio programs to television. The successful radio series had TV spinoffs, with the earliest and most successful in this mystery genre being Suspense, which started in 1949 and ended in 1954. The Whistler would not become a television series until 1954. These three "pilots" were adaptations of radio scripts. The first two were New York productions. Lucky Night was a Chicago production, and included Everett Clarke, who played the part of "The Whistler" in the WBBM radio series. Note that Beulah Zachary was the producer of the Chicago broadcast. New media offered new opportunities for women, and she would become nationally known as the producer of the successful children's program Kukla, Fran, and Ollie. She unfortunately perished in the 1959 American Airlines flight 320 crash. All three productions had generally positive reviews, but did not garner enough interest to turn The Whistler into a regular series. That would not happen until the mid-1950s for 39 syndicated episodes. No recordings of these three 1940s broadcasts are available, and it is possible that no kinescopes were made of the broadcasts.

WCBS-TV New York, November 21, 1946

from Variety, November 26, 1946

WCBS-TV New York, January 16, 1947

from Variety, January 22, 1947

WBKB-TV Chicago, June 27, 1948

from Variety, June 30, 1948

"The Whistler" Was a Popular Song? Sure Was!

Click here to listen! Details about the recording (click here)

The Record

That's The Whistler's call, and he knows it all

So remember that he's checking on you.

When the sins begin, that's when he drops in

So look out for him whatever you do.

Oh he knows about him, and he knows about her

And he knows about this and that

Every big guy in the FBI

Says he never whistles through his hat.

If you've got some clues to the latest news

Will you do a little favor for me?

Mr. Whistler, can you tell me where my baby can be?

That's The Whistler, that's his call

So remember that he's checking on you.

The Modernaires

That's The Whistler, knows it all

Look out whatever you do.

Mr. Whistler, what you see?

Can you tell me where my baby can be?

Oh he knows about him, and he knows about her

He knows about this, knows about that

Every big guy in the FBI

Says he never whistles through his hat.

If you've got some clues to the latest news

Will you do a little favor for me?

Mr. Whistler...

Tell me, tell me, tell me...

Tell me where my baby can be!

Other Versions of the Song

Sam Donahue and His Orchestra, with vocal by Shirley Lloyd, recorded a slightly different version that can be accessed at YouTube.

Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra recorded a very good big band version of the song that can be accessed at archive.org.

Hat tip to Ed Martin at the OTRR Facebook page for this info 2020-11-28