The Sonic Society

Showcasing the very best in new Audio Drama

OTR (Old Time Radio) finding NTL (New Time Listeners)

cbsmysteryThere’s a huge discussion in the modern audio drama realms that often ends up being confrontational. The New Time listeners and the Old Time Listeners represent a stark contrast in the listening habits of those who love radio plays. This can be a good thing, in that the medium is growing so large that we are able to break down into smaller groups. However, I’ve always felt that there’s good stories in old time radio shows as much as there is in new time podcasts.

Jay Powell in this Columbia Daily Herald article  has also discovered new life in the great OTR shows. Mr. Powell writes about his love of the CBS Mystery Theater series he heard first in his teens:

When I was in my pre-teen years, back when mp3 downloads were still in their infancy, I discovered that there was more out there than just songs and movie soundtracks I could store on my iPod. Some of my favorite memories from those days were nights spent listening to the radio program, “CBS Radio Mystery Theater.”

These were episodic dramas produced between 1974-1982, often with a tinge of horror and the macabre, running between 40 minutes to an hour. The format was a throwback to old time radio shows like “The Shadow” or “The Hall of Fantasy,” complete with sound effects and special guest stars. I still remember the loud creaking door at the start of each episode and host E.G. Marshall saying “Come in…welcome,” before launching the listener into another fear-filled hour.

The stories often involved haunted houses, a killer on the loose, or ghosts from a person’s past. A tale or two from Edgar Allan Poe (my favorite writer at the time) would also pop up on occasion. Listening to those stories was a tradition for me night after night as the lights went out and I crawled into bed, hoping to have the bejeezus scared out of me once more before I went to sleep.

There were other shows I discovered later on, such as “The Inner Sanctum Mysteries,” “Suspense,” even the old Mercury Theater programs starring Orson Welles. Something about having to imagine the scenes as I closed my eyes and put on the headphones had a way of immersing the listener into that world, almost in a dreamlike state.

Read the rest of Mr. Powell’s love letter to the OTR and start listening again with new ears in

About The Author

Born to Teachers and Amateur Audio Enthusiasts in the small rural community of Belwood, Jack's first love was stories- writing, reading, telling, and singing. He developed his acting skills through High School, University, and through film and community theatre. Jack writes the lion's share of Electric Vicuna's Audio Drama scripts and has his own writing site at He's thrilled to co-host the Sonic Society with his wonderful, talented, friend David Ault!


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