BW – EP91: The Hollywood Radio Western Renaissance (1954 – 1980)

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In Breaking Walls episode 91, we finish the adult western trilogy with a focus on the period after television decimated radio’s listening audience, forever altering the broadcasting landscape. Dramatic radio’s time as America’s number one entertainment genre was over, but it was far from dead.

Our story won’t conclude on that fabled date of September 30th, 1962 when radio drama supposedly ended forever. We’ll push down the trail through the 1960s, 70s, and 80s as dramatic radio continued to avoid the hangman’s noose.

• Dirty Saturdays
• Gunsmoke Finds Sponsorship.
• Gunsmoke’s TV launch
• NBC and Dr. Sixgun
• Norman Macdonnell and CBS bring a new Western to the Air
• J.B. Kendall, Luke Slaughter, & Paladin
• The End of Gunsmoke
• Horizon’s West and One Last Gasp
• Elliott Lewis—Young At Heart
• Riding off Into the Sunset

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The reading material used in today’s episode was:
• On The Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio – by John Dunning
• Radio Rides The Range: A Reference Guide to Western Drama on the Air, 1929 – 1967 by Jack French and David S. Siegel
• Network Radio Ratings, 1932-1953 – by Jim Ramsburg
• As well as numerous passages from Broadcast Magazine

On the Interview Front:

• Lilian Buyeff, John Dehner, Lawrence Dobkin, Herb Ellis, Virginia Gregg, Elliott Lewis, Vic Perrin, and Herb Vigran, were with SPERDVAC, the Society to Preserve and Encourage Radio Drama, Variety, and Comedy. For more information, please go to

• Parley Baer, William Conrad, John Dehner, Rex Koury, and Norman Macdonnell were with John Hickman. Mr. Hickman was the longtime host of WAMU’s Recollections. Today, this program is heard each Sunday evening as The Big Broadcast. For more information, please go to

• William N Robson was with Dick Bertel and Ed Corcoran for WTIC’s The Golden Age of Radio. This interview can be heard at

• Parley Baer was with Chuck Schaden. Hear their full chat at

•John Dehner was also heard with Neil Ross for KMPC on March 23rd, 1982. While Elliott Lewis was with John Dunning for his 1980s 71KNUS program from Denver. And Raymond Burr was with Jack Webster in 1963.

Special Thanks to Our Sponsors:
• The Fireside Mystery Theatre

• The Mutual Audio Network

• Twelve Chimes, It’s Midnight

Selected Music Featured in Today’s Episode Was:
• The Theme to A Summer Place – by Percy Faith
• Mr. Sandman – by The Chordettes
• Young At Heart – by Frank Sinatra
• And Come Down My Evening Star – by Joan Morris & William Bolcom

I’d also like to thank Walden Hughes and John and Larry Gassman of SPERDVAC. Listen to their shows on the Yesterday USA radio network.

A Special Thank you to:
Ryan Kramer
Barry Nadler
Christian Neuhaus
Aimee Pavy
Terry Wallace

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