BW – EP73: The 1970s Revival of Dramatic Radio and Why It Failed

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In Breaking Walls Episode 73 we spotlight the 1970s CBS and Mutual Broadcasting dramatic radio revival and why it ultimately failed.

• Go Inside the November 1, 1973 Mutual Broadcasting closed circuit press conference from the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City announcing The Zero Hour
• How Elliot Lewis came to produce and direct The Zero Hour
• How Himan Brown got CBS to say yes to the CBS Radio Mystery Theater
• Why Himan Brown wanted the Mystery Theatre on 7-nights per week
• Rod Serling’s feelings about radio
• How the AFRS furthered Howard Duff and Elliott Lewis’ lifelong friendship
• New storytelling methods for the 1970s
• New recording technology
• Why The Zero Hour had immediate Advertising difficulties
• How Tom Bosley of Happy Days got involved in the radio revival
• Why Sears paid $1.2 Million to get involved in dramatic radio in 1979
• What Richard Widmark, Cicely Tyson, Vincent Price, Lorne Greene, and Andy Griffith had in common
• Dramatic Radio of the 1980s
• Why the popularity of FM hurt The CBS Radio Mystery Theatre
• Major Network Dramatic Radio Comes to a close
• What’s next?

Beginning February 15th, 2018 Breaking Walls will be presenting the first in a long-term story arc: Chapter 1 on The History of American Dramatic Radio. To support the show for as little as $1 per month and receive all kinds of BTS material, please go to

Today’s episode of Breaking Walls could not have been possible without the interviews by Chuck Schaden, Dick Bertel, Ed Corcoran, SPERDVAC, and John Dunning.

• Chuck’s interviews are available at
• Dick Bertel and Ed Corcoran’s interviews are at by searching for The Golden Age of Radio program.
• John Dunning’s interviews are also located at under “John Dunning interviews”
• The Society To Preserve and Encourage Radio Drama, Variety and Comedy can be found at

The reading material used in today’s episode was:

• The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio by John Dunning
• A Pictorial History of Radio’s First 75 Years by B. Eric Rhoads
• The Radio Career of Rod Serling by Martin Grams Jr’s
• The CBS Radio Mystery Theater Handbook by Martin Grams Jr’s and Gordon Payton

I’d like to thank them both for providing fantastic information that helped me put this episode together today.

as well as The Digital Deli’s page on the Mutual Radio Theater –

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