The stories offered by The Weird Circle were generally adapted from popular fiction - popular fiction of the 19th century, that is. And since the focus was on horror and suspense, the macabre, atmospheric, and often ironic tales of such writers as Edgar Allan Poe and Honore de Balzac were a staple of its success. Also included were such familiar chestnuts as "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte, Charles Dickens' "The Queer Client", Charlotte Bronte's novel "Jane Eyre" (also a particular favorite of Orson Welles and his Mercury Theater company), and "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson. Stories of this vintage, rooted in the Victorian attitudes and morality of the 1800s, generally made for good radio drama; they were, after all, classics, familiar to anyone with a public school education. The primarily first-person narrative of most of the stories chosen made them relatively easy to convert into script form: introduce a narrator, establish the scene, and then carry on with the plot. And, of course, since they were out of copyright, there were no literary rights to be paid -- a sizeable cost savings for any producer looking to budget a weekly series, then or now.
The Weird Circle was produced in New York City by the National Broadcasting Company, under the auspices of its Radio-Recording Division. Though best known for live programs over its Red and Blue Networks, NBC produced and recorded a great many shows for syndication to local stations, including such diverse dramatic programs as Playhouse of Favorites, Five Minute Mysteries, Destiny Trails, and Betty and Bob (a five-a-week daily "soap opera" featuring Arlene Francis), as well as quarter-hour musical programs starring performers ranging from Carson Robison and his Buckaroos to Ferde Grofe and his Orchestra. The quality of these syndicated shows was, for the most part, consistent with NBC's regular prime-time fare and, a result, were often aired by local stations as either special features or programmed between other shows on the network at the time.
Compared with other syndicated thriller/mystery series produced at the same time, it's clear that the producers of The Weird Circle aimed a little higher than the norm. The budgets for the series, though no more generous than any similar series produced for the syndication market, benefitted greatly from the technical staff and state-of-the-art facilities which NBC maintained at their Rockefeller Center headquarters. The series featured no stars but, instead, drew upon the adept, adaptable, and professional performers who regularly appeared in supporting roles on live network broadcasts - actors like Audrey Totter, Lawson Zerbe, Chester Stratton, Walter Vaughn, Eleanor Audley, and Arnold Moss, to name just a few. And, rather than relying on contracted writers to grind out inexpensive "pulp" stories in a contemporary vein, this series relied instead upon tried and true material from well-known and well-read authors, giving The Weird Circle a definite touch of class.
In this fourth Radio Archives collection, you'll hear eighteen additional broadcasts from The Weird Circle, just as originally aired in 1944 and 1945. As an extra bonus, we've uncovered the transcription disc containing the original openings and closings of the shows, allowing you to hear these programs in their original as-broadcast format for the first time in decades. If you're familiar with some or all of the stories offered in this series, Radio Archives is sure you'll enjoy revisiting your favorites in a different form. If you've read only a few of these stories - or, better still, if you've never read any of them - we promise that you're in for a real treat.
So, bell keeper! Toll the bell, so that all may know that we are gathered again in...the Weird Circle!
"The Cinnamon Bear" is, arguably, the best holiday series ever developed for radio. Containing all of the elements of a classic children's fantasy, combined with radio's unique ability to create vivid mental images in the minds of its listeners, it continues to delight both young and old. And now, for the first time, you can hear and enjoy "The Complete Cinnamon Bear" -- including all twenty-six original and unedited shows, the original 1937 promotional recording, and all of the songs from the series as transferred from an original set of 78 RPM recordings. Each of the programs has been digitally transferred directly from a set of original 16" broadcast transcriptions and painstakingly restored for outstanding audio fidelity - truly the best-sounding version of the series that has ever been released. It's yet another triumph for Paddy and his band of travelers as, after well over seventy years, they once again carry on their magical search for the silver star.
When "Dragnet" premiered in 1949 it was a breath of fresh air. No wisecracks, no impossibly exaggerated characterizations, just a dedicated law enforcement officer, determined to do his job as completely and as thoroughly as possible. Joe Friday is one of radio's great Everyman figures -- just another workaday guy in a cheap suit, trudging thru his daily routine -- but in Webb's hands, the characterization takes on a fascinating edge of realism. The deliberately-low-key direction and the stylized flat-voiced delivery of the supporting cast adds to this downbeat, it's-really-happening style, giving "Dragnet" a feeling and a mood unlike that of any other radio program of its era.
Programs included in this collection are from first six months' of the program's run, beginning with the second broadcast of the series. Although Walter Schumann's famous theme music doesn't appear until Episode 3, the essential feel of the series is there from the very beginning of the run: the quiet byplay between Friday and his partner Ben Romero (expertly played by radio veteran Barton Yarborough), the meticulous documentation of the unfolding case, and the careful pacing of each episode as it builds slowly but steadily to a climax. The supporting players are drawn from the ranks of top radio talent, including such performers as Frank Lovejoy, Parley Baer, Hans Conried, and Raymond Burr, and the production values -- layering sound upon sound -- are of astonishing proficiency.
This is the third issue in the Dusty Ayres series. Thick, deadly, that curtain of purple gas stretched along our border from Maine to the Great Lakes. What did it hide? What gigantic war scheme was the enemy preparing behind it? The Fate of America depended upon knowing these answers in time — and grimly Ayres vowed to find out, flying a one-man patrol against the greatest military coup ever planned! Captain Dusty Ayres, ace pilot for the U.S. Air Defense flies in the Silver Flash, an advanced craft of his own design. With his two pals Curly Brooks and Biff Bolton, they battle some of the most diabolical mad scientists and their weirdest inventions. These exciting stories took over the Battle Birds magazine from June 1934 through the July/August issue of 1935, changing the magazine name to Dusty Ayres and his Battle Birds. And now Dusty Ayres and his Battle Birds is back, reissued for today’s readers in electronic format. $2.99.
Written by science fiction legend Edmond Hamilton, the exploits of Captain Future, Wizard of Science, originally appeared in the pages of Captain Future magazine and Startling Stories back in the days before NASA’s manned space program. These exciting pulp adventures have been beautifully reformatted for easy reading as an eBook and feature the original full color cover. Will Murray's Pulp Classics line of eBooks are of the highest quality and feature the great Pulp Fiction stories of the 1930s-1950s. $1.49.
I ordered 'The Weird Circle' expecting a pretty typical low-budget series, but I was surprised to hear such a high quality anthology show! Thanks, as always, for introducing me to new series and exceeding my expectations.
I am a HUGE fan of Transco! Their productions are in a class of their own and I love the stock actors. It's amazing how well these TRANSCO series have been preserved. And how complete they all are! Keep it up! I for one am in awe of your work. The restoration you have done will take these historic shows far far into the future and you will be remembered for a very long time.