Thursday, June 29, 2017

"Lost" SHADOW Radio Programs Discovered

Earlier this week Radio Spirits, a mail order company based out of Wallingford, Connecticut, released their summer 2017 catalog. Unlike other mail order companies specializing in old-time radio, Radio Spirits continues to release uncirculated recordings -- and their latest catalog offers a number of surprises. A casual look on page three in the catalog, for example, reveals more than 40 uncirculated "lost" recordings of George Burns and Gracie Allen, with the most recent collection containing at least 15 recordings from 1946 never available until now. 

In the past four years, Radio Spirits was responsible for thousands of "lost" recordings for The Green Hornet, The Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show, The Charlie McCarthy Show, Amos and Andy, Red Skelton Show, Duffy's Tavern, The Lone Ranger, Sgt. Preston of the Yukon, Mr. District Attorney, The Man From Homicide, Somebody Knows, Big Town, Lights Out!, and Nick Carter, Master Detective.

Add The Shadow to that list. Over the past few years over two dozen uncirculated "lost" episodes were discovered and released through Radio Spirits and just when that stockpile was exhausted, another dozen was recently unearthed -- all of them were included in their latest box set. Anyone who is a fan of The Shadow radio program knows of wealthy dilettante Lamont Cranston who led a double life as a mysterious crime fighter, facing off against racketeers, kidnappers, globe-threatening villains, mad scientists, and insane masters of the occult. Even though I devoted a number of years reading radio scripts to every radio broadcast not known to exist in recorded form, I found listening to these newly-discovered recordings just as enjoyable today as they were when I first discovered The Shadow on audio cassette in the early 1980s. 

Regrettably, the numbers are not in our favor. These new recordings might be the last of the "lost" shows to surface in the coming years. Speaking realistically -- not pessimistically -- there may not be another large stockpile of "lost" episodes. I only know of two discs still gathering dust in the hands of a private collector and I fear they may never see the light of day. Two episodes that exist partially (such as the first half of "The Headsman of the Camerons") have never been released commercially. 

Whenever "lost" episodes of radio broadcasts are made available in Radio Spirits box sets, die-hards such as myself (along with a few close friends) scrutinize the catalogs and compare broadcast dates to collector lists and determine what episodes are not available anywhere else. Regrettably, Radio Spirits rarely promotes the fact that they are responsible for "lost" radio programs. It seems only the die-hards in the hobby who take time to check their holdings are aware of this fact. Last week someone made mention on Facebook that Radio Spirits was repsonsible for "lost" radio programs and dozens of people chimed in with surprise and awe. So it is my hope that this blog post brings awareness to collectors of old-time radio programs: Radio Spirits will continue to release uncirculated radio programs and they could use your support. Visit their website at www.radiospirits.com and check out their online catalog. Where else can you go and buy four box sets a year, each containing at least 18 "lost" episodes of The Green Hornet?  

In case anyone is curious to know which episodes were recently found, the list below contains the eleven "lost" episodes now available through Radio Spirits. (Others in the set that were existing are upgrades, FYI.)

"Cold Death" (December 19, 1937)
"Murder in the Ballpark" (October 8, 1939, also known as "The Diamond Murders")
"Village of Doom" (October 15, 1939)
"The Dragon's Tongue Murders" (October 12, 1941)
"The Devil's Hour" (October 26, 1941)
"The Organ Played at Midnight" (November 9, 1941)
"Death Imported" (December 21, 1941)
"Death Pulls the Strings" (January 4, 1942)
"The Drums of Doom" (January 11, 1942)
"The Thing in the Swamp" (January 18, 1942)
"Dead Man's Revenge" (January 25, 1942)

You can order the box set with these episodes here:


5 comments:

Alex said...

Radio Spirits has been the recipient of a pretty decent share of my income over the years. The only quibble that I ever have with their product is that they sometimes have a tendency to get a little heavy-handed with noise reduction. I know of people who cannot stand the company, though. No idea why. But then there are people out there who hate anybody who refuses to give old radio shows away as free downloads. I've always been pleased with them, though. They even have a sister company, named the Radio Vault, for those folks who prefer mp3 downloads. See? All bases covered.

Jerry said...

Pleased to read of your support for Radio Spirits. Too many people believe all recordings should be free and forget that someone has to pay for the transcription discs and Radio Spirits deserves recognition.

Gordon said...

Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I made a purchase this evening.

George said...

I can tell you why some people dislike Radio Spirits. They negotiate for rights to the shows they release from various entities. Networks, estates, publishers, etc. Whoever actually owns rights to the shows. Well, a few years back, when they were under different ownership and different management, Radio Spirits got very aggressive about trying to prevent anybody else from trying to sell or post files of shows they felt they held exclusive rights to. They succeeded, short term, in getting some series taken down off sites like archive.org, but long term, what they were trying to do proved to be an impossible task. The sheer volume of material being posted on the internet was too overwhelming. That, and Radio Spirits felt it was hurting the company's image that they were being painted as evil, villainous people for merely trying to keep exclusive to themselves series they had made legal arrangements to be sole distributors of. As someone said above, too many people believe everything should be free. The company's current owners/management just sort of ignore the issue and go about their business, but it has to be frustrating for the Radio Spirits people that every exclusive or rarity they come up with ends up getting ripped from their CDs and posted on every free old time radio download site on the internet as a crappy sounding low bitrate mp3.

Gravydog316 said...

There are even more 'found' episodes... 2 with Bill Johnstone, & more with Welles...

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