All's Fair in Love and Ratings

A representative list of shows TV taken from radio

Remember the song, "Video killed the radio star"? It not only killed the star, it decimated the entire medium. And radio drama never recovered.


TV, or not TV? That is the question. And the answer is NOT TV (at least as far as the origins of the shows listed below are concerned). Most of these shows originated on radio, and Hollywood lured them away with bigger bucks and promises of a greater audience. To be fair, it should be mentioned that radio borrowed much from literature. But seldom did an author give up writing books to go into radio. So radio's gain didn't come at the expense of another medium. (If anything, it generated new readers for books made famous on radio.) The same cannot be said of television. TV not only took the concept of most of radio's best shows, but in many cases, the entire cast and writing crew! So there wasn't much left to replace it. Talk about a brain drain, this drain took everything AND the kitchen sink (including the drainage pipe)!

And who was behind the conspiracy to rob radio's best talent? Why, the very radio owners themselves. They sent much of their staff and leadership to Hollywood to create all three of the major TV networks. David Sarnoff led General Electric, Westinghouse and RCA to create the National Broadcasting System which ran the Blue and Red Networks. The Red Network eventually spun off NBC TV. They sold the Blue Network in 1943 to Edward Nobel, owner of Life Savers. He used it to form the American Broadcasting Company, which eventually became ABC TV. William Paley's Columbia Broadcasting System evolved into CBS TV. (Buxton, 172.) Mutual was owned by Louis Bamberger, a New Jersey department store owner who didn't have the funds of the big shots, although his network of independent stations was actually larger than the "big boys." Since he didn't own or operate the stations the way the other networks did, they were left out of the mad dash to TV. (Siegel, 4)

So TV really did rob radio from every direction. Staff, writers, actors, executives, you name it! Granted, it was a form of self cannibalization, but that didn't change the outcome. What was left of radio afterwards was an empty shell in comparison. In most cases, all that remained were Djs and skeleton news departments. All the major resources and creative talent went westward, and so the sun set on the Golden Age of radio drama.

Here's a representative list of titles of some of radio's biggest hits that hiked to Hollywood in search of greener pay checks.

Keep in mind it is NOT a complete list. I was born in the 1960s, and wasn't around to see any of the 1950s tv shows that were swiped from radio, so I probably only recognize a fraction of the actual titles. But here's a list of titles that I do know, and if you have more, please feel free to email me your list.

The Abbott & Costello Show

The Academy Awards Show

Adventures of Ellery Queen

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet

The Adventures of Philip Marlowe

The Adventures of Sam Spade

The Adventures of Superman

Amos 'N' Andy

The Andrews Sisters

Archie Andrews

And that's just the "A"s! If that's a representative sample for each letter in the alphabet, another 250 titles could be expected. So lets save some space and just mention some highlights off the top of my head:

Baby Snooks, Dragnet, The Dinah Shore Show, Green Acres (originally Granby's Green Acres), Gunsmoke, The Lucy Show, Duffy's Tavern (made into Archie's Place), Jack Benny, Burns & Allan, Grand Ole Opry, The Bob Hope Show, The Bing Cosby Show, Lone Ranger, Sherlock Holmes, The Green Hornet, Have Gun Will Travel, Charlie Chan, You Bet Your Life, Edgar Bergan/ Charlie McCarthy Show, Perry Mason and many, many more.


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