The Black Mass

1963 - 1970

Above image courtesy of Tune In For Terror © 1992

From KPFA (Pacifica radio) studios in Berkeley comes this series. They were dramatic readings of classic literature with dark themes. Authors included Ambrose Bierce, Bram Stoker, Henry James, Franz Kafka, Feddor Dostoyevski, Edgar Allan Poe, and H.P. Lovecraft, among others. A couple of the recordings were later released on Lp, ones with stories by H.P. Lovecraft (including Rats In The Wall). No host or series intro or credits were included on this record. The reader would narrate while music and sound effects played in the background. Voices of other characters would also appear, but the narration was dominant. Only 31 episodes are listed on broadcast logs. Whether that's because some were lost, or because they were only occasionally produced, is not currently verifiable.


The Youtube description also provides this information:

The Black Mass was a horror-fantasy radio drama produced by Erik Bauersfeld, a leading American radio dramatist of the post-television era. The series aired on KPFA (Berkeley) and KPFK (Los Angeles) from 1963 to 1967, on an irregular schedule. Bauersfeld was the Director of Drama and Literature at KPFA from 1966 to 1991. Bauersfeld's sound designer for most of the episodes was John Whiting, KPFA's production director. Their collaborations were later credited in a Ph.D. dissertation with "keeping radio drama alive in America in the 1960s."

Music for the series was by several Bay Area composers, including KPFA's Music Director Charles Shere, a composer and music critic who later wrote books on American composers and also serves on the board of the Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse. Bauersfeld's Black Mass productions were an influence on writer-producer Thomas Lopez (ZBS), who noted, "In the 1960s, I was inspired by someone at KPFA in Berkeley, Eric Bauersfeld. who did a series called The Black Mass, adaptations of H. P. Lovecraft and such. He helped me a lot. I consider Eric my mentor. He also did some fine Eugene O'Neill plays for radio."

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(Courtesy of

The Haunted House

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