Brett's Old Time Radio Show Episode 605, Sherlock Holmes, The Case of the Missing Heiress | Brett’s Old Time Radio Show (2024)

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The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a radio drama series which aired in the USA from 1939 to 1950, it ran for 374 episodes, with many of the later episodes considered lost media. The series was based on the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. Some of the surviving episode recordings may be found online, in various audio quality condition.

For most of the show's run, the program starred Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson. Other actors played Holmes and Watson in later seasons.

From the outset of the show, the series was billed in different listings under various titles including Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, and other titles. The most popularly remembered title is The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. On occasion, the title of a radio episode differs from that of its original story – for example, the radio adaption of "The Adventure of the Red Circle" is entitled "Mrs. Warren's Lodger".

From 1939 until 1943, episodes were adapted or written by Edith Meiser[4] who had written the earlier series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes which aired from 1930 to 1935. Meiser left the show after disagreements with a sponsor over the amount of violence in the program. It is also reported that Meiser left the show to focus on other projects. From 1943 onward, most episodes were written by the team of Denis Green and Anthony Boucher with some early episodes written by Green and Leslie Charteris. Edith Meiser returned to write for the show for its seventh season. Max Ehrlich and Howard Merrill wrote the episodes of season 8. Denis Green returned as a writer for the last season.

Originally, the show starred Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Doctor Watson. Together, they starred in 220 episodes which aired weekly on Mondays from 8:30 to 9:00 pm. Basil Rathbone's last episode as the famous detective was "The Singular Affair of the Baconian Cipher". He was eager to separate himself from the show to avoid being typecast in the role. Tom Conway replaced him in the starring role, though Nigel Bruce got top billing. The new series lasted 39 episodes, and Bruce and Conway then left the series. From then until 1950 the series continued with various actors playing the two principal parts.

The show first aired on the Blue Network but later moved to the Mutual Broadcasting System. The show moved to Mutual in 1943 at the start of its fourth season. The series was originally broadcast from Hollywood. During World War II, the show was also broadcast overseas through the Armed Forces Radio Service. The program aired on ABC instead of Mutual for its sixth and ninth seasons.

Many episodes were recorded in front of a live audience.

Sherlock Holmes:
Basil Rathbone (1939–1946)
Tom Conway (1947)
John Stanley (1947–1949)
Ben Wright (The Singular Affair of the Ancient Egyptian Curse in 1947, as stand-in for Tom Conway, 1949–1950 as a regular)
Dr. Watson:
Nigel Bruce (1939–1947)
Joseph Kearns (The Haunting of Sherlock Holmes in 1946, stand-in for Nigel Bruce)
Alfred Shirley (1947–1948)
Ian Martin (1948)
Wendell Holmes (credited as "George Spelvin") (1948–1949)
Eric Snowden (The Terrifying Cats in 1946, as a stand-in for Nigel Bruce, 1949–1950 as a regular)
There is only a limited amount of information available about additional cast members, since complete cast lists are available only for a handful of episodes. In multiple episodes, Mary Gordon played Mrs. Hudson, a role she also played in the 1939–1946 Sherlock Holmes film series featuring Rathbone and Bruce. Professor Moriarty was played by multiple actors in the radio series, including Joseph Kearns (who also played Watson) and Lou Merrill.

Frederick Worlock played Inspector Lestrade in at least three known episodes. Worlock also played different roles in multiple films in the 1939–1946 film series, such as the role of Geoffrey Musgrave in Sherlock Holmes Faces Death.

Lestrade was played by Bernard Lenrow in the seventh season and Horace Braham in the eighth season. Rex Evans played Mycroft Holmes in at least two known episodes. Evans played an assassin in the Sherlock Holmes film Pursuit to Algiers.

In each episode, the announcer would be presented as arriving at the home of Dr. Watson, then retired, who would share a story about Holmes and his adventures. The announcer for the first three seasons of the show was Knox Manning. In various episodes of the fourth season, the announcers were Owen Babbe, Marx Hartman, and Bob Campbell. Harry Bartell became the announcer for the fifth season. The announcer for the sixth season was Joseph Bell. Bell had previously been the announcer for The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Cy Harrice took over the role for the seventh and eighth seasons. Herb Allen was the announcer for the ninth season.[28]

Actors who performed in multiple roles on the show include Verna Felton, Paula Winslowe, Carl Harbord (who also played Inspector Hopkins in the Sherlock Holmes film Dressed to Kill), Herbert Rawlinson, Paul Frees, Theodore von Eltz, and June Foray.

The show's announcer acted as the spokesman for the sponsor. Grove's Bromo Quinine sponsored the show for the first three seasons. Petri Wine was the sponsor for the fourth and fifth seasons.

Petri Wine stopped sponsoring the show after the end of the fifth season. While Rathbone left the show at the same time, the reason Petri ceased their sponsorship was unconnected to Rathbone's departure according to one source, which states that the decision was made because it was more affordable for Petri to sponsor the radio series The Casebook of Gregory Hood instead.

The sponsor for the series was Kreml Hair Tonic for the show's sixth season, and the Trimount Clothing Co. for the seventh season. Trimount renewed their sponsorship for the eighth season. Petri Wine returned as the sponsor for the ninth season. By May 1950, it was confirmed that Petri did not plan to renew their sponsorship if the series continued.

Season 1 (October 2, 1939 – March 11, 1940; 24 episodes) started with an adaptation of "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire" and ended with an adaptation of "The Adventure of the Retired Colourman". The last episode of the season was originally intended to be an adaptation of "The Final Problem". It is not known why the change was made, but it may be because "The Final Problem" had already been used on radio several times. It was announced on the penultimate show that "The Final Problem" would be the last episode; in the final episode, Watson said he had changed his mind about which story he was going to tell.

Season 2 (September 29, 1940 – March 9, 1941; 24 episodes) started with an adaptation of "The Adventure of the Empty House". The last episode was an adaptation of "The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place". The season included a six-episode serial adapted from The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Season 3 (5 October 1941 – March 1, 1942; 22 episodes) started with an adaptation of "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client" and ended with an episode titled "The Giant Rat of Sumatra". An episode also titled "The Giant Rat of Sumatra", inspired by a reference in "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire", had previously aired in 1932 in the second season of the radio series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Season 4 (May 7, 1943 – May 28, 1945; 109 episodes) started with a dramatization of "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches". The last episode of the season is titled "Dance of Death". According to the Pittsburgh Press, Nigel Bruce "astounded sound engineers" by imitating the sound of a seagull required for the episode "Death in Cornwall", which aired on February 7, 1944. Some episodes in this season and the following two seasons were novelized by H. Paul Jeffers in his 2005 book The Forgotten Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Season 5 (September 3, 1945 – May 27, 1946; 39 episodes) started with an episode titled "The Case of the Limping Ghost", based on an incident in "The Adventure of the Crooked Man". The last episode of the season was "The Singular Affair of the Baconian Cipher", suggested by an incident in The Sign of Four. This was the last season with Basil Rathbone playing Sherlock Holmes.[42] Rathbone and Bruce also appeared on the CBS radio program Request Performance in November 1945, and swapped roles as Holmes and Watson in a short sketch performance on the program. Some of the episodes in this season were novelized by Ken Greenwald in his book The Lost Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1989).

Season 6 (October 12, 1946 – July 7, 1947; 39 episodes) started with the episode "The Adventure of the Stuttering Ghost", suggested by an incident in "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor". The season ended with "The Adventure of the Iron Maiden".[45] This was the last season with Nigel Bruce playing Watson.

Season 7 (September 28, 1947 – June 20, 1948; 39 episodes) started with "The Case of the Dog Who Changed His Mind" and ended with an adaptation of "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger".

Season 8 (September 12, 1948 – June 6, 1949; 39 episodes) started with an episode titled "The Case of the Unwelcome Ambassador" and ended with an episode titled "The Adventure of the Red Death".

Season 9 (September 21, 1949 – June 14, 1950; 39 episodes) started with an episode with an unknown title. The second episode, which aired on September 28, 1949, was titled "The Eloquent Corpse". Many of this season's episodes, including the last two episodes, have unknown titles. The last episode with a known title is "Command Performance", which aired on May 31, 1950.

Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by British author Arthur Conan Doyle. Referring to himself as a "consulting detective" in his stories, Holmes is known for his proficiency with observation, deduction, forensic science and logical reasoning that borders on the fantastic, which he employs when investigating cases for a wide variety of clients, including Scotland Yard.

The character Sherlock Holmes first appeared in print in 1887's A Study in Scarlet. His popularity became widespread with the first series of short stories in The Strand Magazine, beginning with "A Scandal in Bohemia" in 1891; additional tales appeared from then until 1927, eventually totalling four novels and 56 short stories. All but one[a] are set in the Victorian or Edwardian eras, between about 1880 and 1914. Most are narrated by the character of Holmes's friend and biographer Dr. John H. Watson, who usually accompanies Holmes during his investigations and often shares quarters with him at the address of 221B Baker Street, London, where many of the stories begin.

Though not the first fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes is arguably the best known. By the 1990s, there were already over 25,000 stage adaptations, films, television productions and publications featuring the detective, and Guinness World Records lists him as the most portrayed human literary character in film and television history. Holmes' popularity and fame are such that many have believed him to be not a fictional character but a real individual; numerous literary and fan societies have been founded on this pretence. Avid readers of the Holmes stories helped create the modern practice of fandom. The character and stories have had a profound and lasting effect on mystery writing and popular culture as a whole, with the original tales as well as thousands written by authors other than Conan Doyle being adapted into stage and radio plays, television, films, video games, and other media for over one hundred years.

Inspiration for the character

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930), Sherlock Holmes's creator, in 1914
Edgar Allan Poe's C. Auguste Dupin is generally acknowledged as the first detective in fiction and served as the prototype for many later characters, including Holmes. Conan Doyle once wrote, "Each [of Poe's detective stories] is a root from which a whole literature has developed ... Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it?" Similarly, the stories of Émile Gaboriau's Monsieur Lecoq were extremely popular at the time Conan Doyle began writing Holmes, and Holmes's speech and behaviour sometimes follow those of Lecoq. Doyle has his main characters discuss these literary antecedents near the beginning of A Study in Scarlet, which is set soon after Watson is first introduced to Holmes. Watson attempts to compliment Holmes by comparing him to Dupin, to which Holmes replies that he found Dupin to be "a very inferior fellow" and Lecoq to be "a miserable bungler".

Conan Doyle repeatedly said that Holmes was inspired by the real-life figure of Joseph Bell, a surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, whom Conan Doyle met in 1877 and had worked for as a clerk. Like Holmes, Bell was noted for drawing broad conclusions from minute observations.[13] However, he later wrote to Conan Doyle: "You are yourself Sherlock Holmes and well you know it". Sir Henry Littlejohn, Chair of Medical Jurisprudence at the University of Edinburgh Medical School, is also cited as an inspiration for Holmes. Littlejohn, who was also Police Surgeon and Medical Officer of Health in Edinburgh, provided Conan Doyle with a link between medical investigation and the detection of crime.

Other possible inspirations have been proposed, though never acknowledged by Doyle, such as Maximilien Heller, by French author Henry Cauvain. In this 1871 novel (sixteen years before the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes), Henry Cauvain imagined a depressed, anti-social, opium-smoking polymath detective, operating in Paris. It is not known if Conan Doyle read the novel, but he was fluent in French.[19] Similarly, Michael Harrison suggested that a German self-styled "consulting detective" named Walter Scherer may have been the model for Holmes.

Fictional character biography
Family and early life
Magazine cover featuring A Study in Scarlet, with drawing of a man lighting a lamp
The cover page of the 1887 edition of Beeton's Christmas Annual, which contains Holmes's first appearance (A Study in Scarlet)
Details of Sherlock Holmes' life in Conan Doyle's stories are scarce and often vague. Nevertheless, mentions of his early life and extended family paint a loose biographical picture of the detective.

A statement of Holmes' age in "His Last Bow" places his year of birth at 1854; the story, set in August 1914, describes him as sixty years of age.[21] His parents are not mentioned, although Holmes mentions that his "ancestors" were "country squires". In "The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter", he claims that his grandmother was sister to the French artist Vernet, without clarifying whether this was Claude Joseph, Carle, or Horace Vernet. Holmes' brother Mycroft, seven years his senior, is a government official. Mycroft has a unique civil service position as a kind of human database for all aspects of government policy. Sherlock describes his brother as the more intelligent of the two, but notes that Mycroft lacks any interest in physical investigation, preferring to spend his time at the Diogenes Club.

Holmes says that he first developed his methods of deduction as an undergraduate; his earliest cases, which he pursued as an amateur, came from his fellow university students. A meeting with a classmate's father led him to adopt detection as a profession.

Life with Watson
Holmes (in deerstalker hat) talking to Watson (in a bowler hat) in a railway compartment
Holmes (right) and Watson in a Sidney Paget illustration for "The Adventure of Silver Blaze"
In the first Holmes tale, A Study in Scarlet, financial difficulties lead Holmes and Dr. Watson to share rooms together at 221B Baker Street, London. Their residence is maintained by their landlady, Mrs. Hudson. Holmes works as a detective for twenty-three years, with Watson assisting him for seventeen of those years. Most of the stories are frame narratives written from Watson's point of view, as summaries of the detective's most interesting cases. Holmes frequently calls Watson's records of Holmes's cases sensational and populist, suggesting that they fail to accurately and objectively report the "science" of his craft:

Detection is, or ought to be, an exact science and should be treated in the same cold and unemotional manner. You have attempted to tinge it [A Study in Scarlet] with romanticism, which produces much the same effect as if you worked a love-story or an elopement into the fifth proposition of Euclid. ... Some facts should be suppressed, or, at least, a just sense of proportion should be observed in treating them. The only point in the case which deserved mention was the curious analytical reasoning from effects to causes, by which I succeeded in unravelling it.

Nevertheless, when Holmes recorded a case himself, he was forced to concede that he could more easily understand the need to write it in a manner that would appeal to the public rather than his intention to focus on his own technical skill.

Holmes's friendship with Watson is his most significant relationship. When Watson is injured by a bullet, although the wound turns out to be "quite superficial", Watson is moved by Holmes's reaction:

It was worth a wound; it was worth many wounds; to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation.

After confirming Watson's assessment of the wound, Holmes makes it clear to their opponent that the man would not have left the room alive if he genuinely had killed Watson.

Holmes' clients vary from the most powerful monarchs and governments of Europe, to wealthy aristocrats and industrialists, to impoverished pawnbrokers and governesses. He is known only in select professional circles at the beginning of the first story, but is already collaborating with Scotland Yard. However, his continued work and the publication of Watson's stories raise Holmes's profile, and he rapidly becomes well known as a detective; so many clients ask for his help instead of (or in addition to) that of the police that, Watson writes, by 1887 "Europe was ringing with his name" and by 1895 Holmes has "an immense practice". Police outside London ask Holmes for assistance if he is nearby. A Prime Minister and the King of Bohemia visit 221B Baker Street in person to request Holmes's assistance; the President of France awards him the Legion of Honour for capturing an assassin; the King of Scandinavia is a client; and he aids the Vatican at least twice. The detective acts on behalf of the British government in matters of national security several times and declines a knighthood "for services which may perhaps some day be described". However, he does not actively seek fame and is usually content to let the police take public credit for his work.

The Great Hiatus
Holmes and Moriarty wrestling at the end of a narrow path, with Holmes's hat falling into a waterfall
Holmes and archenemy Moriarty struggle at the Reichenbach Falls; drawing by Sidney Paget
The first set of Holmes stories was published between 1887 and 1893. Conan Doyle killed off Holmes in a final battle with the criminal mastermind Professor James Moriarty[ in "The Final Problem" (published 1893, but set in 1891), as Conan Doyle felt that "my literary energies should not be directed too much into one channel". However, the reaction of the public surprised him very much. Distressed readers wrote anguished letters to The Strand Magazine, which suffered a terrible blow when 20,000 people cancelled their subscriptions to the magazine in protest. Conan Doyle himself received many protest letters, and one lady even began her letter with "You brute". Legend has it that Londoners were so distraught upon hearing the news of Holmes's death that they wore black armbands in mourning, though there is no known contemporary source for this; the earliest known reference to such events comes from 1949. However, the recorded public reaction to Holmes's death was unlike anything previously seen for fictional events.

After resisting public pressure for eight years, Conan Doyle wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles (serialised in 1901–02, with an implicit setting before Holmes's death). In 1903, Conan Doyle wrote "The Adventure of the Empty House"; set in 1894, Holmes reappears, explaining to a stunned Watson that he had faked his death to fool his enemies. Following "The Adventure of the Empty House", Conan Doyle would sporadically write new Holmes stories until 1927. Holmes aficionados refer to the period from 1891 to 1894—between his disappearance and presumed death in "The Final Problem" and his reappearance in "The Adventure of the Empty House"—as the Great Hiatus. The earliest known use of this expression dates to 1946.

In His Last Bow, the reader is told that Holmes has retired to a small farm on the Sussex Downs and taken up beekeeping as his primary occupation. The move is not dated precisely, but can be presumed to be no later than 1904 (since it is referred to retrospectively in "The Adventure of the Second Stain", first published that year). The story features Holmes and Watson coming out of retirement to aid the British war effort. Only one other adventure, "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane", takes place during the detective's retirement.

Personality and habits

Holmes examining a bicycle with Watson standing behind in "The Adventure of the Priory School" from 1904. Sidney Paget's illustrations in The Strand Magazine iconicised both characters.
Watson describes Holmes as "bohemian" in his habits and lifestyle.[54] Said to have a "cat-like" love of personal cleanliness, at the same time Holmes is an eccentric with no regard for contemporary standards of tidiness or good order. Watson describes him as

in his personal habits one of the most untidy men that ever drove a fellow-lodger to distraction. [He] keeps his cigars in the coal-scuttle, his tobacco in the toe end of a Persian slipper, and his unanswered correspondence transfixed by a jack-knife into the very centre of his wooden mantelpiece. ... He had a horror of destroying documents. ... Thus month after month his papers accumulated, until every corner of the room was stacked with bundles of manuscript which were on no account to be burned, and which could not be put away save by their owner.

While Holmes can be dispassionate and cold, during an investigation he is animated and excitable. He has a flair for showmanship, often keeping his methods and evidence hidden until the last possible moment so as to impress observers. His companion condones the detective's willingness to bend the truth (or break the law) on behalf of a client—lying to the police, concealing evidence or breaking into houses—when he feels it morally justifiable.

Except for that of Watson, Holmes avoids casual company. In "The Gloria Scott", he tells the doctor that during two years at college he made only one friend: "I was never a very sociable fellow, Watson ... I never mixed much with the men of my year." The detective goes without food at times of intense intellectual activity, believing that "the faculties become refined when you starve them". At times, Holmes relaxes with music, either playing the violin[62] or enjoying the works of composers such as Wagner and Pablo de Sarasate.

Drug use
Holmes in a blue bathrobe, reclining against a pillow and smoking his pipe
1891 Paget portrait of Holmes smoking his pipe for "The Man with the Twisted Lip"
Holmes occasionally uses addictive drugs, especially in the absence of stimulating cases. He sometimes used morphine and sometimes cocaine, the latter of which he injects in a seven-per cent solution; both drugs were legal in 19th-century England. As a physician, Watson strongly disapproves of his friend's cocaine habit, describing it as the detective's only vice, and concerned about its effect on Holmes's mental health and intellect. In "The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter", Watson says that although he has "weaned" Holmes from drugs, the detective remains an addict whose habit is "not dead, but merely sleeping".

Watson and Holmes both use tobacco, smoking cigarettes, cigars, and pipes. Although his chronicler does not consider Holmes's smoking a vice per se, Watson—a physician—does criticise the detective for creating a "poisonous atmosphere" in their confined quarters.

Holmes is known to charge clients for his expenses and claim any reward offered for a problem's solution, such as in "The Adventure of the Speckled Band", "The Red-Headed League", and "The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet". The detective states at one point that "My professional charges are upon a fixed scale. I do not vary them, save when I remit them altogether." In this context, a client is offering to double his fee, and it is implied that wealthy clients habitually pay Holmes more than his standard rate. In "The Adventure of the Priory School", Holmes earns a £6,000 fee (at a time where annual expenses for a rising young professional were in the area of £500). However, Watson notes that Holmes would refuse to help even the wealthy and powerful if their cases did not interest him.

Attitudes towards women
As Conan Doyle wrote to Joseph Bell, "Holmes is as inhuman as a Babbage's Calculating Machine and just about as likely to fall in love." Holmes says of himself that he is "not a whole-souled admirer of womankind", and that he finds "the motives of women ... inscrutable. ... How can you build on such quicksand? Their most trivial actions may mean volumes". In The Sign of Four, he says, "Women are never to be entirely trusted—not the best of them", a feeling Watson notes as an "atrocious sentiment". In "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane", Holmes writes, "Women have seldom been an attraction to me, for my brain has always governed my heart." At the end of The Sign of Four, Holmes states that "love is an emotional thing, and whatever is emotional is opposed to that true, cold reason which I place above all things. I should never marry myself, lest I bias my judgement." Ultimately, Holmes claims outright that "I have never loved."

But while Watson says that the detective has an "aversion to women",[85] he also notes Holmes as having "a peculiarly ingratiating way with [them]". Watson notes that their housekeeper Mrs. Hudson is fond of Holmes because of his "remarkable gentleness and courtesy in his dealings with women. He disliked and distrusted the sex, but he was always a chivalrous opponent." However, in "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton", the detective becomes engaged under false pretenses in order to obtain information about a case, abandoning the woman once he has the information he requires.

Irene Adler
Irene Adler is a retired American opera singer and actress who appears in "A Scandal in Bohemia". Although this is her only appearance, she is one of only a handful of people who best Holmes in a battle of wits, and the only woman. For this reason, Adler is the frequent subject of pastiche writing. The beginning of the story describes the high regard in which Holmes holds her:

To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. ... And yet there was but one woman to him, and that woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable memory.

Five years before the story's events, Adler had a brief liaison with Crown Prince of Bohemia Wilhelm von Ormstein. As the story opens, the Prince is engaged to another. Fearful that the marriage would be called off if his fiancée's family learns of this past impropriety, Ormstein hires Holmes to regain a photograph of Adler and himself. Adler slips away before Holmes can succeed. Her memory is kept alive by the photograph of Adler that Holmes received for his part in the case.

Knowledge and skills
Shortly after meeting Holmes in the first story, A Study in Scarlet (generally assumed to be 1881, though the exact date is not given), Watson assesses the detective's abilities:

Knowledge of Literature – nil.
Knowledge of Philosophy – nil.
Knowledge of Astronomy – nil.
Knowledge of Politics – Feeble.
Knowledge of Botany – Variable. Well up in belladonna, opium, and poisons generally. Knows nothing of practical gardening.
Knowledge of Geology – Practical, but limited. Tells at a glance different soils from each other. After walks, has shown me splashes upon his trousers, and told me by their colour and consistence in what part of London he had received them.
Knowledge of Chemistry – Profound.
Knowledge of Anatomy – Accurate, but unsystematic.
Knowledge of Sensational Literature – Immense. He appears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century.
Plays the violin well.
Is an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman.
Has a good practical knowledge of British law.
In A Study in Scarlet, Holmes claims to be unaware that the Earth revolves around the Sun since such information is irrelevant to his work; after hearing that fact from Watson, he says he will immediately try to forget it. The detective believes that the mind has a finite capacity for information storage, and learning useless things reduces one's ability to learn useful things. The later stories move away from this notion: in The Valley of Fear, he says, "All knowledge comes useful to the detective", and in "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane", the detective calls himself "an omnivorous reader with a strangely retentive memory for trifles". Looking back on the development of the character in 1912, Conan Doyle wrote that "In the first one, the Study in Scarlet, [Holmes] was a mere calculating machine, but I had to make him more of an educated human being as I went on with him."

Despite Holmes's supposed ignorance of politics, in "A Scandal in Bohemia" he immediately recognises the true identity of the disguised "Count von Kramm". At the end of A Study in Scarlet, Holmes demonstrates a knowledge of Latin. The detective cites Hafez,[98] Goethe,[99] as well as a letter from Gustave Flaubert to George Sand in the original French. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, the detective recognises works by Godfrey Kneller and Joshua Reynolds: "Watson won't allow that I know anything of art, but that is mere jealousy since our views upon the subject differ." In "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans", Watson says that "Holmes lost himself in a monograph which he had undertaken upon the Polyphonic Motets of Lassus", considered "the last word" on the subject—which must have been the result of an intensive and very specialized musicological study which could have had no possible application to the solution of criminal mysteries.

Holmes is a cryptanalyst, telling Watson that "I am fairly familiar with all forms of secret writing, and am myself the author of a trifling monograph upon the subject, in which I analyse one hundred and sixty separate ciphers." Holmes also demonstrates a knowledge of psychology in "A Scandal in Bohemia", luring Irene Adler into betraying where she hid a photograph based on the premise that a woman will rush to save her most valued possession from a fire. Another example is in "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle", where Holmes obtains information from a salesman with a wager: "When you see a man with whiskers of that cut and the 'Pink 'un' protruding out of his pocket, you can always draw him by a bet ... I daresay that if I had put 100 pounds down in front of him, that man would not have given me such complete information as was drawn from him by the idea that he was doing me on a wager."

Maria Konnikova points out in an interview with D. J. Grothe that Holmes practises what is now called mindfulness, concentrating on one thing at a time, and almost never "multitasks". She adds that in this he predates the science showing how helpful this is to the brain.

Holmesian deduction
Colour illustration of Holmes bending over a dead man in front of a fireplace
Sidney Paget illustration of Holmes examining a corpse for "The Adventure of the Abbey Grange"
Holmes observes the dress and attitude of his clients and suspects, noting skin marks (such as tattoos), contamination (such as ink stains or clay on boots), emotional state, and physical condition in order to deduce their origins and recent history. The style and state of wear of a person's clothes and personal items are also commonly relied on; in the stories, Holmes is seen applying his method to items such as walking sticks, pipes, and hats. For example, in "A Scandal in Bohemia", Holmes infers that Watson had got wet lately and had "a most clumsy and careless servant girl". When Watson asks how Holmes knows this, the detective answers:

It is simplicity itself ... my eyes tell me that on the inside of your left shoe, just where the firelight strikes it, the leather is scored by six almost parallel cuts. Obviously they have been caused by someone who has very carelessly scraped round the edges of the sole in order to remove crusted mud from it. Hence, you see, my double deduction that you had been out in vile weather, and that you had a particularly malignant boot-slitting specimen of the London slavey.

In the first Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, Dr. Watson compares Holmes to C. Auguste Dupin, Edgar Allan Poe's fictional detective, who employed a similar methodology. Alluding to an episode in "The Murders in the Rue Morgue", where Dupin determines what his friend is thinking despite their having walked together in silence for a quarter of an hour, Holmes remarks: "That trick of his breaking in on his friend's thoughts with an apropos remark ... is really very showy and superficial."[112] Nevertheless, Holmes later performs the same 'trick' on Watson in "The Cardboard Box" and "The Adventure of the Dancing Men".

Though the stories always refer to Holmes's intellectual detection method as "deduction", Holmes primarily relies on abduction: inferring an explanation for observed details. "From a drop of water," he writes, "a logician could infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara without having seen or heard of one or the other." However, Holmes does employ deductive reasoning as well. The detective's guiding principle, as he says in The Sign of Four, is: "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

Despite Holmes's remarkable reasoning abilities, Conan Doyle still paints him as fallible in this regard (this being a central theme of "The Yellow Face").

Forensic science
See caption
19th-century Seibert microscope
Though Holmes is famed for his reasoning capabilities, his investigative technique relies heavily on the acquisition of hard evidence. Many of the techniques he employs in the stories were at the time in their infancy.

The detective is particularly skilled in the analysis of trace evidence and other physical evidence, including latent prints (such as footprints, hoof prints, and shoe and tire impressions) to identify actions at a crime scene, using tobacco ashes and cigarette butts to identify criminals, utilizing handwriting analysis and graphology, comparing typewritten letters to expose a fraud, using gunpowder residue to expose two murderers, and analyzing small pieces of human remains to expose two murders.

Because of the small scale of much of his evidence, the detective often uses a magnifying glass at the scene and an optical microscope at his Baker Street lodgings. He uses analytical chemistry for blood residue analysis and toxicology to detect poisons; Holmes's home chemistry laboratory is mentioned in "The Naval Treaty". Ballistics feature in "The Adventure of the Empty House" when spent bullets are recovered to be matched with a suspected murder weapon, a practice which became regular police procedure only some fifteen years after the story was published.

Laura J. Snyder has examined Holmes's methods in the context of mid- to late-19th-century criminology, demonstrating that, while sometimes in advance of what official investigative departments were formally using at the time, they were based upon existing methods and techniques. For example, fingerprints were proposed to be distinct in Conan Doyle's day, and while Holmes used a thumbprint to solve a crime in "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder" (generally held to be set in 1895), the story was published in 1903, two years after Scotland Yard's fingerprint bureau opened. Though the effect of the Holmes stories on the development of forensic science has thus often been overstated, Holmes inspired future generations of forensic scientists to think scientifically and analytically.

Holmes displays a strong aptitude for acting and disguise. In several stories ("The Sign of Four", "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton", "The Man with the Twisted Lip", "The Adventure of the Empty House" and "A Scandal in Bohemia"), to gather evidence undercover, he uses disguises so convincing that Watson fails to recognise him. In others ("The Adventure of the Dying Detective" and "A Scandal in Bohemia"), Holmes feigns injury or illness to incriminate the guilty. In the latter story, Watson says, "The stage lost a fine actor ... when [Holmes] became a specialist in crime."

Guy Mankowski has said of Holmes that his ability to change his appearance to blend into any situation "helped him personify the idea of the English eccentric chameleon, in a way that prefigured the likes of David Bowie".

Until Watson's arrival at Baker Street, Holmes largely worked alone, only occasionally employing agents from the city's underclass. These agents included a variety of informants, such as Langdale Pike, a "human book of reference upon all matters of social scandal", and Shinwell Johnson, who acted as Holmes's "agent in the huge criminal underworld of London". The best known of Holmes's agents are a group of street children he called "the Baker Street Irregulars".

Long-barreled revolver with a black handle
British Army (Adams) Mark III, the type probably carried by Watson
Holmes and Watson often carry pistols with them to confront criminals—in Watson's case, his old service weapon (probably a Mark III Adams revolver, issued to British troops during the 1870s).[139] Holmes and Watson shoot the eponymous hound in The Hound of the Baskervilles, and in "The Adventure of the Empty House", Watson pistol-whips Colonel Sebastian Moran. In "The Problem of Thor Bridge", Holmes uses Watson's revolver to solve the case through an experiment.

Other weapons
As a gentleman, Holmes often carries a stick or cane. He is described by Watson as an expert at singlestick, and uses his cane twice as a weapon. In A Study in Scarlet, Watson describes Holmes as an expert swordsman, and in "The Gloria Scott", the detective says he practised fencing while at university.[59] In several stories ("A Case of Identity", "The Red-Headed League", "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons"), Holmes wields a riding crop, described in the latter story as his "favourite weapon".

Personal combat
Holmes fighting
Holmes outfighting Mr Woodley in "The Solitary Cyclist"
The detective is described (or demonstrated) as possessing above-average physical strength. In "The Yellow Face", Holmes's chronicler says, "Few men were capable of greater muscular effort." In "The Adventure of the Speckled Band", Dr. Roylott demonstrates his strength by bending a fire poker in half. Watson describes Holmes as laughing and saying, "'If he had remained I might have shown him that my grip was not much more feeble than his own.' As he spoke he picked up the steel poker and, with a sudden effort, straightened it out again."

Holmes is an adept bare-knuckle fighter; "The Gloria Scott" mentions that Holmes boxed while at university. In The Sign of Four, he introduces himself to McMurdo, a prize fighter, as "the amateur who fought three rounds with you at Alison's rooms on the night of your benefit four years back". McMurdo remembers: "Ah, you're one that has wasted your gifts, you have! You might have aimed high if you had joined the fancy." In "The Yellow Face", Watson says: "He was undoubtedly one of the finest boxers of his weight that I have ever seen." In "The Solitary Cyclist", Holmes visits a country pub to make enquiries regarding a certain Mr Woodley which results in violence. Mr Woodley, Holmes tells Watson,

... had been drinking his beer in the tap-room, and had heard the whole conversation. Who was I? What did I want? What did I mean by asking questions? He had a fine flow of language, and his adjectives were very vigorous. He ended a string of abuse by a vicious backhander, which I failed to entirely avoid. The next few minutes were delicious. It was a straight left against a slogging ruffian. I emerged as you see me. Mr. Woodley went home in a cart.

Another character subsequently refers to Mr Woodley as looking "much disfigured" as a result of his encounter with Holmes.

In "The Adventure of the Empty House", Holmes tells Watson that he used a Japanese martial art known as baritsu to fling Moriarty to his death in the Reichenbach Falls. "Baritsu" is Conan Doyle's version of bartit*u, which combines jujitsu with boxing and cane fencing.

The Golden Age of Radio

Also known as the old-time radio (OTR) era, was an era of radio in the United States where it was the dominant electronic home entertainment medium. It began with the birth of commercial radio broadcasting in the early 1920s and lasted through the 1950s, when television gradually superseded radio as the medium of choice for scripted programming, variety and dramatic shows.

Radio was the first broadcast medium, and during this period people regularly tuned in to their favourite radio programs, and families gathered to listen to the home radio in the evening. According to a 1947 C. E. Hooper survey, 82 out of 100 Americans were found to be radio listeners. A variety of new entertainment formats and genres were created for the new medium, many of which later migrated to television: radio plays, mystery serials, soap operas, quiz shows, talent shows, daytime and evening variety hours, situation comedies, play-by-play sports, children's shows, cooking shows, and more.

In the 1950s, television surpassed radio as the most popular broadcast medium, and commercial radio programming shifted to narrower formats of news, talk, sports and music. Religious broadcasters, listener-supported public radio and college stations provide their own distinctive formats.


A family listening to the first broadcasts around 1920 with a crystal radio. The crystal radio, a legacy from the pre-broadcast era, could not power a loudspeaker so the family must share earphones
During the first three decades of radio, from 1887 to about 1920, the technology of transmitting sound was undeveloped; the information-carrying ability of radio waves was the same as a telegraph; the radio signal could be either on or off. Radio communication was by wireless telegraphy; at the sending end, an operator tapped on a switch which caused the radio transmitter to produce a series of pulses of radio waves which spelled out text messages in Morse code. At the receiver these sounded like beeps, requiring an operator who knew Morse code to translate them back to text. This type of radio was used exclusively for person-to-person text communication for commercial, diplomatic and military purposes and hobbyists; broadcasting did not exist.

The broadcasts of live drama, comedy, music and news that characterize the Golden Age of Radio had a precedent in the Théâtrophone, commercially introduced in Paris in 1890 and available as late as 1932. It allowed subscribers to eavesdrop on live stage performances and hear news reports by means of a network of telephone lines. The development of radio eliminated the wires and subscription charges from this concept.

Between 1900 and 1920 the first technology for transmitting sound by radio was developed, AM (amplitude modulation), and AM broadcasting sprang up around 1920.

On Christmas Eve 1906, Reginald Fessenden is said to have broadcast the first radio program, consisting of some violin playing and passages from the Bible. While Fessenden's role as an inventor and early radio experimenter is not in dispute, several contemporary radio researchers have questioned whether the Christmas Eve broadcast took place, or whether the date was, in fact, several weeks earlier. The first apparent published reference to the event was made in 1928 by H. P. Davis, Vice President of Westinghouse, in a lecture given at Harvard University. In 1932 Fessenden cited the Christmas Eve 1906 broadcast event in a letter he wrote to Vice President S. M. Kinter of Westinghouse. Fessenden's wife Helen recounts the broadcast in her book Fessenden: Builder of Tomorrows (1940), eight years after Fessenden's death. The issue of whether the 1906 Fessenden broadcast actually happened is discussed in Donna Halper's article "In Search of the Truth About Fessenden"[2] and also in James O'Neal's essays.[3][4] An annotated argument supporting Fessenden as the world's first radio broadcaster was offered in 2006 by Dr. John S. Belrose, Radioscientist Emeritus at the Communications Research Centre Canada, in his essay "Fessenden's 1906 Christmas Eve broadcast."

It was not until after the Titanic catastrophe in 1912 that radio for mass communication came into vogue, inspired first by the work of amateur ("ham") radio operators. Radio was especially important during World War I as it was vital for air and naval operations. World War I brought about major developments in radio, superseding the Morse code of the wireless telegraph with the vocal communication of the wireless telephone, through advancements in vacuum tube technology and the introduction of the transceiver.

After the war, numerous radio stations were born in the United States and set the standard for later radio programs. The first radio news program was broadcast on August 31, 1920, on the station 8MK in Detroit; owned by The Detroit News, the station covered local election results. This was followed in 1920 with the first commercial radio station in the United States, KDKA, being established in Pittsburgh. The first regular entertainment programs were broadcast in 1922, and on March 10, Variety carried the front-page headline: "Radio Sweeping Country: 1,000,000 Sets in Use." A highlight of this time was the first Rose Bowl being broadcast on January 1, 1923, on the Los Angeles station KHJ.

Growth of radio
Broadcast radio in the United States underwent a period of rapid change through the decade of the 1920s. Technology advances, better regulation, rapid consumer adoption, and the creation of broadcast networks transformed radio from a consumer curiosity into the mass media powerhouse that defined the Golden Age of Radio.

Consumer adoption
Through the decade of the 1920s, the purchase of radios by United States homes continued, and accelerated. The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) released figures in 1925 stating that 19% of United States homes owned a radio. The triode and regenerative circuit made amplified, vacuum tube radios widely available to consumers by the second half of the 1920s. The advantage was obvious: several people at once in a home could now easily listen to their radio at the same time. In 1930, 40% of the nation's households owned a radio,[8] a figure that was much higher in suburban and large metropolitan areas. The superheterodyne receiver and other inventions refined radios even further in the next decade; even as the Great Depression ravaged the country in the 1930s, radio would stay at the centre of American life. 83% of American homes would own a radio by 1940.

Government regulation
Although radio was well established with United States consumers by the mid-1920s, regulation of the broadcast medium presented its own challenges. Until 1926, broadcast radio power and frequency use was regulated by the U.S. Department of Commerce, until a legal challenge rendered the agency powerless to do so. Congress responded by enacting the Radio Act of 1927, which included the formation of the Federal Radio Commission (FRC).

One of the FRC's most important early actions was the adoption of General Order 40, which divided stations on the AM band into three power level categories, which became known as Local, Regional, and Clear Channel, and reorganized station assignments. Based on this plan, effective 3:00 a.m. Eastern time on November 11, 1928, most of the country's stations were assigned to new transmitting frequencies.

Broadcast networks
The final element needed to make the Golden Age of Radio possible focused on the question of distribution: the ability for multiple radio stations to simultaneously broadcast the same content, and this would be solved with the concept of a radio network. The earliest radio programs of the 1920s were largely unsponsored; radio stations were a service designed to sell radio receivers. In early 1922, American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T) announced the beginning of advertisem*nt-supported broadcasting on its owned stations, and plans for the development of the first radio network using its telephone lines to transmit the content. In July 1926, AT&T abruptly decided to exit the broadcasting field, and signed an agreement to sell its entire network operations to a group headed by RCA, which used the assets to form the National Broadcasting Company. Four radio networks had formed by 1934. These were:

National Broadcasting Company Red Network (NBC Red), launched November 15, 1926. Originally founded as the National Broadcasting Company in late 1926, the company was almost immediately forced to split under antitrust laws to form NBC Red and NBC Blue. When, in 1942, NBC Blue was sold and renamed the Blue Network, this network would go back to calling itself simply the National Broadcasting Company Radio Network (NBC).
National Broadcasting Company Blue Network (NBC Blue); launched January 10, 1927, split from NBC Red. NBC Blue was sold in 1942 and became the Blue Network, and it in turn transferred its assets to a new company, the American Broadcasting Company on June 15, 1945. That network identified itself as the American Broadcasting Company Radio Network (ABC).
Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), launched September 18, 1927. After an initially struggling attempt to compete with the NBC networks, CBS gained new momentum when William S. Paley was installed as company president.
Mutual Broadcasting System (Mutual), launched September 29, 1934. Mutual was initially run as a cooperative in which the flagship stations owned the network, not the other way around as was the case with the other three radio networks.

In the period before and after the advent of the broadcast network, new forms of entertainment needed to be created to fill the time of a station's broadcast day. Many of the formats born in this era continued into the television and digital eras. In the beginning of the Golden Age, network programs were almost exclusively broadcast live, as the national networks prohibited the airing of recorded programs until the late 1940s because of the inferior sound quality of phonograph discs, the only practical recording medium at that time. As a result, network prime-time shows would be performed twice, once for each coast.

Rehearsal for the World War II radio show You Can't Do Business with Hitler with John Flynn and Virginia Moore. This series of programs, broadcast at least once weekly by more than 790 radio stations in the United States, was written and produced by the radio section of the Office of War Information (OWI).
Live events
Coverage of live events included musical concerts and play-by-play sports broadcasts.

The capability of the new medium to get information to people created the format of modern radio news: headlines, remote reporting, sidewalk interviews (such as Vox Pop), panel discussions, weather reports, and farm reports. The entry of radio into the realm of news triggered a feud between the radio and newspaper industries in the mid-1930s, eventually culminating in newspapers trumping up exaggerated [citation needed] reports of a mass hysteria from the (entirely fictional) radio presentation of The War of the Worlds, which had been presented as a faux newscast.

Musical features
The sponsored musical feature soon became one of the most popular program formats. Most early radio sponsorship came in the form of selling the naming rights to the program, as evidenced by such programs as The A&P Gypsies, Champion Spark Plug Hour, The Clicquot Club Eskimos, and King Biscuit Time; commercials, as they are known in the modern era, were still relatively uncommon and considered intrusive. During the 1930s and 1940s, the leading orchestras were heard often through big band remotes, and NBC's Monitor continued such remotes well into the 1950s by broadcasting live music from New York City jazz clubs to rural America. Singers such as Harriet Lee and Wendell Hall became popular fixtures on network radio beginning in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Local stations often had staff organists such as Jesse Crawford playing popular tunes.

Classical music programs on the air included The Voice of Firestone and The Bell Telephone Hour. Texaco sponsored the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts; the broadcasts, now sponsored by the Toll Brothers, continue to this day around the world, and are one of the few examples of live classical music still broadcast on radio. One of the most notable of all classical music radio programs of the Golden Age of Radio featured the celebrated Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra, which had been created especially for him. At that time, nearly all classical musicians and critics considered Toscanini the greatest living maestro. Popular songwriters such as George Gershwin were also featured on radio. (Gershwin, in addition to frequent appearances as a guest, had his own program in 1934.) The New York Philharmonic also had weekly concerts on radio. There was no dedicated classical music radio station like NPR at that time, so classical music programs had to share the network they were broadcast on with more popular ones, much as in the days of television before the creation of NET and PBS.

Country music also enjoyed popularity. National Barn Dance, begun on Chicago's WLS in 1924, was picked up by NBC Radio in 1933. In 1925, WSM Barn Dance went on the air from Nashville. It was renamed the Grand Ole Opry in 1927 and NBC carried portions from 1944 to 1956. NBC also aired The Red Foley Show from 1951 to 1961, and ABC Radio carried Ozark Jubilee from 1953 to 1961.

Radio attracted top comedy talents from vaudeville and Hollywood for many years: Bing Crosby, Abbott and Costello, Fred Allen, Jack Benny, Victor Borge, Fanny Brice, Billie Burke, Bob Burns, Judy Canova, Eddie Cantor, Jimmy Durante, Burns and Allen, Phil Harris, Edgar Bergen, Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, Jean Shepherd, Red Skelton and Ed Wynn. Situational comedies also gained popularity, such as Amos 'n' Andy, Easy Aces, Ethel and Albert, Fibber McGee and Molly, The Goldbergs, The Great Gildersleeve, The Halls of Ivy (which featured screen star Ronald Colman and his wife Benita Hume), Meet Corliss Archer, Meet Millie, and Our Miss Brooks.

Radio comedy ran the gamut from the small town humor of Lum and Abner, Herb Shriner and Minnie Pearl to the dialect characterizations of Mel Blanc and the caustic sarcasm of Henry Morgan. Gags galore were delivered weekly on Stop Me If You've Heard This One and Can You Top This?,[18] panel programs devoted to the art of telling jokes. Quiz shows were lampooned on It Pays to Be Ignorant, and other memorable parodies were presented by such satirists as Spike Jones, Stoopnagle and Budd, Stan Freberg and Bob and Ray. British comedy reached American shores in a major assault when NBC carried The Goon Show in the mid-1950s.

Some shows originated as stage productions: Clifford Goldsmith's play What a Life was reworked into NBC's popular, long-running The Aldrich Family (1939–1953) with the familiar catchphrases "Henry! Henry Aldrich!," followed by Henry's answer, "Coming, Mother!" Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman's Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway hit, You Can't Take It with You (1936), became a weekly situation comedy heard on Mutual (1944) with Everett Sloane and later on NBC (1951) with Walter Brennan.

Other shows were adapted from comic strips, such as Blondie, Dick Tracy, Gasoline Alley, The Gumps, Li'l Abner, Little Orphan Annie, Popeye the Sailor, Red Ryder, Reg'lar Fellers, Terry and the Pirates and Tillie the Toiler. Bob Montana's redheaded teen of comic strips and comic books was heard on radio's Archie Andrews from 1943 to 1953. The Timid Soul was a 1941–1942 comedy based on cartoonist H. T. Webster's famed Caspar Milquetoast character, and Robert L. Ripley's Believe It or Not! was adapted to several different radio formats during the 1930s and 1940s. Conversely, some radio shows gave rise to spinoff comic strips, such as My Friend Irma starring Marie Wilson.

Soap operas
The first program generally considered to be a daytime serial drama by scholars of the genre is Painted Dreams, which premiered on WGN on October 20, 1930. The first networked daytime serial is Clara, Lu, 'n Em, which started in a daytime time slot on February 15, 1932. As daytime serials became popular in the early 1930s, they became known as soap operas because many were sponsored by soap products and detergents. On November 25, 1960, the last four daytime radio dramas—Young Dr. Malone, Right to Happiness, The Second Mrs. Burton and Ma Perkins, all broadcast on the CBS Radio Network—were brought to an end.

Children's programming
The line-up of late afternoon adventure serials included Bobby Benson and the B-Bar-B Riders, The Cisco Kid, Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy, Captain Midnight, and The Tom Mix Ralston Straight Shooters. Badges, rings, decoding devices and other radio premiums offered on these adventure shows were often allied with a sponsor's product, requiring the young listeners to mail in a boxtop from a breakfast cereal or other proof of purchase.

Radio plays
Radio plays were presented on such programs as 26 by Corwin, NBC Short Story, Arch Oboler's Plays, Quiet, Please, and CBS Radio Workshop. Orson Welles's The Mercury Theatre on the Air and The Campbell Playhouse were considered by many critics to be the finest radio drama anthologies ever presented. They usually starred Welles in the leading role, along with celebrity guest stars such as Margaret Sullavan or Helen Hayes, in adaptations from literature, Broadway, and/or films. They included such titles as Liliom, Oliver Twist (a title now feared lost), A Tale of Two Cities, Lost Horizon, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. It was on Mercury Theatre that Welles presented his celebrated-but-infamous 1938 adaptation of H. G. Wells's The War of the Worlds, formatted to sound like a breaking news program. Theatre Guild on the Air presented adaptations of classical and Broadway plays. Their Shakespeare adaptations included a one-hour Macbeth starring Maurice Evans and Judith Anderson, and a 90-minute Hamlet, starring John Gielgud.[22] Recordings of many of these programs survive.

During the 1940s, Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, famous for playing Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in films, repeated their characterizations on radio on The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which featured both original stories and episodes directly adapted from Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. None of the episodes in which Rathbone and Bruce starred on the radio program were filmed with the two actors as Holmes and Watson, so radio became the only medium in which audiences were able to experience Rathbone and Bruce appearing in some of the more famous Holmes stories, such as "The Speckled Band". There were also many dramatizations of Sherlock Holmes stories on radio without Rathbone and Bruce.

During the latter part of his career, celebrated actor John Barrymore starred in a radio program, Streamlined Shakespeare, which featured him in a series of one-hour adaptations of Shakespeare plays, many of which Barrymore never appeared in either on stage or in films, such as Twelfth Night (in which he played both Malvolio and Sir Toby Belch), and Macbeth.

Lux Radio Theatre and The Screen Guild Theater presented adaptations of Hollywood movies, performed before a live audience, usually with cast members from the original films. Suspense, Escape, The Mysterious Traveler and Inner Sanctum Mystery were popular thriller anthology series. Leading writers who created original material for radio included Norman Corwin, Carlton E. Morse, David Goodis, Archibald MacLeish, Arthur Miller, Arch Oboler, Wyllis Cooper, Rod Serling, Jay Bennett, and Irwin Shaw.

Game shows
Game shows saw their beginnings in radio. One of the first was Information Please in 1938, and one of the first major successes was Dr. I.Q. in 1939. Winner Take All, which premiered in 1946, was the first to use lockout devices and feature returning champions.

A relative of the game show, which would be called the giveaway show in contemporary media, typically involved giving sponsored products to studio audience members, people randomly called by telephone, or both. An early example of this show was the 1939 show Pot o' Gold, but the breakout hit of this type was ABC's Stop the Music in 1948. Winning a prize generally required knowledge of what was being aired on the show at that moment, which led to criticism of the giveaway show as a form of "buying an audience". Giveaway shows were extremely popular through 1948 and 1949. They were often panned as low-brow, and an unsuccessful attempt was even made by the FCC to ban them (as an illegal lottery) in August 1949.[23]

Broadcast production methods
The RCA Type 44-BX microphone had two live faces and two dead ones. Thus actors could face each other and react. An actor could give the effect of leaving the room by simply moving their head toward the dead face of the microphone.

The scripts were paper-clipped together. It has been disputed whether or not actors and actresses would drop finished pages to the carpeted floor after use.

Radio stations
Despite a general ban on use of recordings on broadcasts by radio networks through the late 1940s, "reference recordings" on phonograph disc were made of many programs as they were being broadcast, for review by the sponsor and for the network's own archival purposes. With the development of high-fidelity magnetic wire and tape recording in the years following World War II, the networks became more open to airing recorded programs and the prerecording of shows became more common.

Local stations, however, had always been free to use recordings and sometimes made substantial use of pre-recorded syndicated programs distributed on pressed (as opposed to individually recorded) transcription discs.

Recording was done using a cutting lathe and acetate discs. Programs were normally recorded at 331⁄3 rpm on 16 inch discs, the standard format used for such "electrical transcriptions" from the early 1930s through the 1950s. Sometimes, the groove was cut starting at the inside of the disc and running to the outside. This was useful when the program to be recorded was longer than 15 minutes so required more than one disc side. By recording the first side outside in, the second inside out, and so on, the sound quality at the disc change-over points would match and result in a more seamless playback. An inside start also had the advantage that the thread of material cut from the disc's surface, which had to be kept out of the path of the cutting stylus, was naturally thrown toward the centre of the disc so was automatically out of the way. When cutting an outside start disc, a brush could be used to keep it out of the way by sweeping it toward the middle of the disc. Well-equipped recording lathes used the vacuum from a water aspirator to pick it up as it was cut and deposit it in a water-filled bottle. In addition to convenience, this served a safety purpose, as the cellulose nitrate thread was highly flammable and a loose accumulation of it combusted violently if ignited.

Most recordings of radio broadcasts were made at a radio network's studios, or at the facilities of a network-owned or affiliated station, which might have four or more lathes. A small local station often had none. Two lathes were required to capture a program longer than 15 minutes without losing parts of it while discs were flipped over or changed, along with a trained technician to operate them and monitor the recording while it was being made. However, some surviving recordings were produced by local stations.

When a substantial number of copies of an electrical transcription were required, as for the distribution of a syndicated program, they were produced by the same process used to make ordinary records. A master recording was cut, then electroplated to produce a stamper from which pressings in vinyl (or, in the case of transcription discs pressed before about 1935, shellac) were moulded in a record press.

Armed Forces Radio Service

Frank Sinatra and Alida Valli converse over Armed Forces Radio Service during World War II
The Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) had its origins in the U.S. War Department's quest to improve troop morale. This quest began with short-wave broadcasts of educational and information programs to troops in 1940. In 1941, the War Department began issuing "Buddy Kits" (B-Kits) to departing troops, which consisted of radios, 78 rpm records and electrical transcription discs of radio shows. However, with the entrance of the United States into World War II, the War Department decided that it needed to improve the quality and quantity of its offerings.

This began with the broadcasting of its own original variety programs. Command Performance was the first of these, produced for the first time on March 1, 1942. On May 26, 1942, the Armed Forces Radio Service was formally established. Originally, its programming comprised network radio shows with the commercials removed. However, it soon began producing original programming, such as Mail Call, G.I. Journal, Jubilee and GI Jive. At its peak in 1945, the Service produced around 20 hours of original programming each week.

From 1943 until 1949 the AFRS also broadcast programs developed through the collaborative efforts of the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs and the Columbia Broadcasting System in support of America's cultural diplomacy initiatives and President Franklin Roosevelt's Good Neighbour policy. Included among the popular shows was Viva America which showcased leading musical artists from both North and South America for the entertainment of America's troops. Included among the regular performers were: Alfredo Antonini, Juan Arvizu, Nestor Mesta Chayres, Kate Smith,[26] and John Serry Sr.

After the war, the AFRS continued providing programming to troops in Europe. During the 1950s and early 1960s it presented performances by the Army's only symphonic orchestra ensemble—the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra. It also provided programming for future wars that the United States was involved in. It survives today as a component of the American Forces Network (AFN).

All of the shows aired by the AFRS during the Golden Age were recorded as electrical transcription discs, vinyl copies of which were shipped to stations overseas to be broadcast to the troops. People in the United States rarely ever heard programming from the AFRS,[31] though AFRS recordings of Golden Age network shows were occasionally broadcast on some domestic stations beginning in the 1950s.

In some cases, the AFRS disc is the only surviving recording of a program.

Home radio recordings in the United States
There was some home recording of radio broadcasts in the 1930s and 1940s. Examples from as early as 1930 have been documented. During these years, home recordings were made with disc recorders, most of which were only capable of storing about four minutes of a radio program on each side of a twelve-inch 78 rpm record. Most home recordings were made on even shorter-playing ten-inch or smaller discs. Some home disc recorders offered the option of the 331⁄3 rpm speed used for electrical transcriptions, allowing a recording more than twice as long to be made, although with reduced audio quality. Office dictation equipment was sometimes pressed into service for making recordings of radio broadcasts, but the audio quality of these devices was poor and the resulting recordings were in odd formats that had to be played back on similar equipment. Due to the expense of recorders and the limitations of the recording media, home recording of broadcasts was not common during this period and it was usually limited to brief excerpts.

The lack of suitable home recording equipment was somewhat relieved in 1947 with the availability of magnetic wire recorders for domestic use. These were capable of recording an hour-long broadcast on a single small spool of wire, and if a high-quality radio's audio output was recorded directly, rather than by holding a microphone up to its speaker, the recorded sound quality was very good. However, because the wire cost money and, like magnetic tape, could be repeatedly re-used to make new recordings, only a few complete broadcasts appear to have survived on this medium. In fact, there was little home recording of complete radio programs until the early 1950s, when increasingly affordable reel-to-reel tape recorders for home use were introduced to the market.

Recording media
Electrical transcription discs

The War of the Worlds radio broadcast by Orson Welles on electrical transcription disc
Before the early 1950s, when radio networks and local stations wanted to preserve a live broadcast, they did so by means of special phonograph records known as "electrical transcriptions" (ETs), made by cutting a sound-modulated groove into a blank disc. At first, in the early 1930s, the blanks varied in both size and composition, but most often they were simply bare aluminum and the groove was indented rather than cut. Typically, these very early recordings were not made by the network or radio station, but by a private recording service contracted by the broadcast sponsor or one of the performers. The bare aluminum discs were typically 10 or 12 inches in diameter and recorded at the then-standard speed of 78 rpm, which meant that several disc sides were required to accommodate even a 15-minute program. By about 1936, 16-inch aluminum-based discs coated with cellulose nitrate lacquer, commonly known as acetates and recorded at a speed of 331⁄3 rpm, had been adopted by the networks and individual radio stations as the standard medium for recording broadcasts. The making of such recordings, at least for some purposes, then became routine. Some discs were recorded using a "hill and dale" vertically modulated groove, rather than the "lateral" side-to-side modulation found on the records being made for home use at that time. The large slow-speed discs could easily contain fifteen minutes on each side, allowing an hour-long program to be recorded on only two discs. The lacquer was softer than shellac or vinyl and wore more rapidly, allowing only a few playbacks with the heavy pickups and steel needles then in use before deterioration became audible.

During World War II, aluminum became a necessary material for the war effort and was in short supply. This caused an alternative to be sought for the base on which to coat the lacquer. Glass, despite its obvious disadvantage of fragility, had occasionally been used in earlier years because it could provide a perfectly smooth and even supporting surface for mastering and other critical applications. Glass base recording blanks came into general use for the duration of the war.

Magnetic wire recording
In the late 1940s, wire recorders became a readily obtainable means of recording radio programs. On a per-minute basis, it was less expensive to record a broadcast on wire than on discs. The one-hour program that required the four sides of two 16-inch discs could be recorded intact on a single spool of wire less than three inches in diameter and about half an inch thick. The audio fidelity of a good wire recording was comparable to acetate discs and by comparison the wire was practically indestructible, but it was soon rendered obsolete by the more manageable and easily edited medium of magnetic tape.

Reel-to-reel tape recording
Bing Crosby became the first major proponent of magnetic tape recording for radio, and he was the first to use it on network radio, after he did a demonstration program in 1947. Tape had several advantages over earlier recording methods. Running at a sufficiently high speed, it could achieve higher fidelity than both electrical transcription discs and magnetic wire. Discs could be edited only by copying parts of them to a new disc, and the copying entailed a loss of audio quality. Wire could be divided up and the ends spliced together by knotting, but wire was difficult to handle and the crude splices were too noticeable. Tape could be edited by cutting it with a blade and neatly joining ends together with adhesive tape. By early 1949, the transition from live performances preserved on discs to performances pre-recorded on magnetic tape for later broadcast was complete for network radio programs. However, for the physical distribution of pre-recorded programming to individual stations, 16-inch 331⁄3 rpm vinyl pressings, less expensive to produce in quantities of identical copies than tapes, continued to be standard throughout the 1950s.

Availability of recordings
The great majority of pre-World War II live radio broadcasts are lost. Many were never recorded; few recordings antedate the early 1930s. Beginning then several of the longer-running radio dramas have their archives complete or nearly complete. The earlier the date, the less likely it is that a recording survives. However, a good number of syndicated programs from this period have survived because copies were distributed far and wide. Recordings of live network broadcasts from the World War II years were preserved in the form of pressed vinyl copies issued by the Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) and survive in relative abundance. Syndicated programs from World War II and later years have nearly all survived. The survival of network programming from this time frame is more inconsistent; the networks started prerecording their formerly live shows on magnetic tape for subsequent network broadcast, but did not physically distribute copies, and the expensive tapes, unlike electrical transcription ("ET") discs, could be "wiped" and re-used (especially since, in the age of emerging trends such as television and music radio, such recordings were believed to have virtually no rerun or resale value). Thus, while some prime time network radio series from this era exist in full or almost in full, especially the most famous and longest-lived of them, less prominent or shorter-lived series (such as serials) may have only a handful of extant episodes. Airchecks, off-the-air recordings of complete shows made by, or at the behest of, individuals for their own private use, sometimes help to fill in such gaps. The contents of privately made recordings of live broadcasts from the first half of the 1930s can be of particular interest, as little live material from that period survives. Unfortunately, the sound quality of very early private recordings is often very poor, although in some cases this is largely due to the use of an incorrect playback stylus, which can also badly damage some unusual types of discs.

Most of the Golden Age programs in circulation among collectors—whether on analogue tape, CD, or in the form of MP3s—originated from analogue 16-inch transcription disc, although some are off-the-air AM recordings. But in many cases, the circulating recordings are corrupted (decreased in quality), because lossless digital recording for the home market did not come until the very end of the twentieth century.

Collectors made and shared recordings on analogue magnetic tapes, the only practical, relatively inexpensive medium, first on reels, then cassettes. "Sharing" usually meant making a duplicate tape. They connected two recorders, playing on one and recording on the other. Analog recordings are never perfect, and copying an analogue recording multiplies the imperfections. With the oldest recordings this can even mean it went out the speaker of one machine and in via the microphone of the other. The muffled sound, dropouts, sudden changes in sound quality, unsteady pitch, and other defects heard all too often are almost always accumulated tape copy defects. In addition, magnetic recordings, unless preserved archivally, are gradually damaged by the Earth's magnetic field.

The audio quality of the source discs, when they have survived unscathed and are accessed and dubbed anew, is usually found to be reasonably clear and undistorted, sometimes startlingly good, although like all phonograph records they are vulnerable to wear and the effects of scuffs, scratches, and ground-in dust. Many shows from the 1940s have survived only in edited AFRS versions, although some exist in both the original and AFRS forms.

As of 2020, the Old Time Radio collection at the Internet Archive contains 5,121 recordings. An active group of collectors makes digitally available, via CD or download, large collections of programs. offers 98,949 episodes in their collection, but not all is old-time radio.

Copyright status
Unlike film, television, and print items from the era, the copyright status of most recordings from the Golden Age of Radio is unclear. This is because, prior to 1972, the United States delegated the copyrighting of sound recordings to the individual states, many of which offered more generous common law copyright protections than the federal government offered for other media (some offered perpetual copyright, which has since been abolished; under the Music Modernization Act of September 2018, any sound recording 95 years old or older will be thrust into the public domain regardless of state law). The only exceptions are AFRS original productions, which are considered work of the United States government and thus both ineligible for federal copyright and outside the jurisdiction of any state; these programs are firmly in the public domain (this does not apply to programs carried by AFRS but produced by commercial networks).

In practice, most old-time radio recordings are treated as orphan works: although there may still be a valid copyright on the program, it is seldom enforced. The copyright on an individual sound recording is distinct from the federal copyright for the underlying material (such as a published script, music, or in the case of adaptations, the original film or television material), and in many cases it is impossible to determine where or when the original recording was made or if the recording was copyrighted in that state. The U.S. Copyright Office states "there are a variety of legal regimes governing protection of pre-1972 sound recordings in the various states, and the scope of protection and of exceptions and limitations to that protection is unclear."[39] For example, New York has issued contradicting rulings on whether or not common law exists in that state; the most recent ruling, 2016's Flo & Eddie, Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio, holds that there is no such copyright in New York in regard to public performance.[40] Further complicating matters is that certain examples in case law have implied that radio broadcasts (and faithful reproductions thereof), because they were distributed freely to the public over the air, may not be eligible for copyright in and of themselves. The Internet Archive and other organizations that distribute public domain and open-source audio recordings maintain extensive archives of old-time radio programs.

United States
Some old-time radio shows continued on the air, although in ever-dwindling numbers, throughout the 1950s, even after their television equivalents had conquered the general public. One factor which helped to kill off old-time radio entirely was the evolution of popular music (including the development of rock and roll), which led to the birth of the top 40 radio format. A top 40 show could be produced in a small studio in a local station with minimal staff. This displaced full-service network radio and hastened the end of the golden-age era of radio drama by 1962. (Radio as a broadcast medium would survive, thanks in part to the proliferation of the transistor radio, and permanent installation in vehicles, making the medium far more portable than television). Full-service stations that did not adopt either top 40 or the mellower beautiful music or MOR formats eventually developed all-news radio in the mid-1960s.

Scripted radio comedy and drama in the vein of old-time radio has a limited presence on U.S. radio. Several radio theatre series are still in production in the United States, usually airing on Sunday nights. These include original series such as Imagination Theatre and a radio adaptation of The Twilight Zone TV series, as well as rerun compilations such as the popular daily series When Radio Was and USA Radio Network's Golden Age of Radio Theatre, and weekly programs such as The Big Broadcast on WAMU, hosted by Murray Horwitz. These shows usually air in late nights and/or on weekends on small AM stations. Carl Amari's nationally syndicated radio show Hollywood 360 features 5 old-time radio episodes each week during his 5-hour broadcast. Amari's show is heard on 100+ radio stations coast-to-coast and in 168 countries on American Forces Radio. Local rerun compilations are also heard, primarily on public radio stations. Sirius XM Radio maintains a full-time Radio Classics channel devoted to rebroadcasts of vintage radio shows.

Starting in 1974, Garrison Keillor, through his syndicated two-hour-long program A Prairie Home Companion, has provided a living museum of the production, tone and listener's experience of this era of radio for several generations after its demise. Produced live in theaters throughout the country, using the same sound effects and techniques of the era, it ran through 2016 with Keillor as host. The program included segments that were close renditions (in the form of parody) of specific genres of this era, including Westerns ("Dusty and Lefty, The Lives of the Cowboys"), detective procedurals ("Guy Noir, Private Eye") and even advertising through fictional commercials. Keillor also wrote a novel, WLT: A Radio Romance based on a radio station of this era—including a personally narrated version for the ultimate in verisimilitude. Upon Keillor's retirement, replacement host Chris Thile chose to reboot the show (since renamed Live from Here after the syndicator cut ties with Keillor) and eliminate much of the old-time radio trappings of the format; the show was ultimately canceled in 2020 due to financial and logistics problems.

Vintage shows and new audio productions in America are accessible more widely from recordings or by satellite and web broadcasters, rather than over conventional AM and FM radio. The National Audio Theatre Festival is a national organization and yearly conference keeping the audio arts—especially audio drama—alive, and continues to involve long-time voice actors and OTR veterans in its ranks. Its predecessor, the Midwest Radio Theatre Workshop, was first hosted by Jim Jordan, of Fibber McGee and Molly fame, and Norman Corwin advised the organization.

One of the longest running radio programs celebrating this era is The Golden Days of Radio, which was hosted on the Armed Forces Radio Service for more than 20 years and overall for more than 50 years by Frank Bresee, who also played "Little Beaver" on the Red Ryder program as a child actor.

One of the very few still-running shows from the earlier era of radio is a Christian program entitled Unshackled! The weekly half-hour show, produced in Chicago by Pacific Garden Mission, has been continuously broadcast since 1950. The shows are created using techniques from the 1950s (including home-made sound effects) and are broadcast across the U.S. and around the world by thousands of radio stations.

Today, radio performers of the past appear at conventions that feature re-creations of classic shows, as well as music, memorabilia and historical panels. The largest of these events was the Friends of Old Time Radio Convention, held in Newark, New Jersey, which held its final convention in October 2011 after 36 years. Others include REPS in Seattle (June), SPERDVAC in California, the Cincinnati OTR & Nostalgia Convention (April), and the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention (September). Veterans of the Friends of Old Time Radio Convention, including Chairperson Steven M. Lewis of The Gotham Radio Players, Maggie Thompson, publisher of the Comic Book Buyer's Guide, Craig Wichman of audio drama troupe Quicksilver Audio Theater and long-time FOTR Publicist Sean Dougherty have launched a successor event, Celebrating Audio Theater – Old & New, scheduled for October 12–13, 2012.

Radio dramas from the golden age are sometimes recreated as live stage performances at such events. One such group, led by director Daniel Smith, has been performing re-creations of old-time radio dramas at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts since the year 2000.

The 40th anniversary of what is widely considered the end of the old time radio era (the final broadcasts of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and Suspense on September 30, 1962) was marked with a commentary on NPR's All Things Considered.

A handful of radio programs from the old-time era remain in production, all from the genres of news, music, or religious broadcasting: the Grand Ole Opry (1925), Music and the Spoken Word (1929), The Lutheran Hour (1930), the CBS World News Roundup (1938), King Biscuit Time (1941) and the Renfro Valley Gatherin' (1943). Of those, all but the Opry maintain their original short-form length of 30 minutes or less. The Wheeling Jamboree counts an earlier program on a competing station as part of its history, tracing its lineage back to 1933.

Western revival/comedy act Riders in the Sky produced a radio serial Riders Radio Theatre in the 1980s and 1990s and continues to provide sketch comedy on existing radio programs including the Grand Ole Opry, Midnite Jamboree and WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour.

Regular broadcasts of radio plays are also heard in—among other countries—Australia, Croatia, Estonia,[46] France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, and Sweden. In the United Kingdom, such scripted radio drama continues on BBC Radio 3 and (principally) BBC Radio 4, the second-most popular radio station in the country, as well as on the rerun channel BBC Radio 4 Extra, which is the seventh-most popular station there.

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