Friday, November 9, 2018

Thurston, the Magician: The 1932-1933 Radio Program

A 1916 three-sheet color litho featuring magician Howard Thurston, assisted by imps and shows his assistant levitating, sold for $22,800 at a Magic Memorabilia Sale held August 25th by Potter & Potter Auctions in Chicago, Illinois. The price includes a 20 percent buyer’s premium, proving that the popularity of stage illusionist Howard Thurston continues to this day. 

Even more fascinating was the recent discovery of 58 radio scripts for the 1932-1933 radio program, Thurston, the Magician. Broadcast twice weekly, the complete run of radio scripts includes such intriguing titles as “The Magic House,” “The Magic Carpet,” and “The Affair at Paint Rock Pass.” Among this recent discovery is a complete cast list for each and every broadcast, music cue sheets, dozens of newspaper clippings pertaining to the radio program and the revelation that the program aired from November 3, 1932 to May 19, 1933. Prior published reference guides claim the program went off the air on May 25, 1933, but careful scrutiny after this discovery verifies May 19 as the correct date.

Collectors of radio programs who are familiar with the Blackstone, the Magic Detective program may find these Thurston programs a change of pace. Thurston solves mysteries but a few of the stories provided social commentary such as the broadcast of February 3, 1933, which concerned a war hero in Walter Reed hospital who was stricken with shell shock. Also discovered through these radio scripts was the fact that the program originated out of Chicago and broadcast coast-to-coast.

To date not a single radio broadcast of Thurston, the Magician is known to exist in recorded form. By the time you read this article, all 58 radio scripts have been scanned into pdf and with today’s resources efforts are being made to unearth as much as we can about this program for future publication, complete with episode guide and plot summaries, further preserving the legacy of Thurston.

Friday, November 2, 2018

WEIRD TALES: The Radio Program

First published in March of 1923, Weird Tales magazine will soon be reaching a milestone: 100 years of publication. The horror magazine responsible for introducing hundreds of thousands of people to the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury and Robert E. Howard (the latter of whom contributed a number of Conan the Barbarian stories). If you have a handful of horror/fantasy/science-fiction anthologies on your bookshelf, you can check out the copyright page and no doubt find a number of stories originated from the pages of Weird Tales.

The magazine is regarded by historians of fantasy and science-fiction as a legend in the field, with Robert Weinberg, author of a history of the magazine, considering it "the most important and influential of all fantasy magazine." Robert attended the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention for a number of years and one could easily ask him a question about the magazine and be certain for a prompt and accurate answer.

Tribute was paid to Weird Tales magazine at the 2015 Pulpiest Convention in Columbus, Ohio, and as an attendee at that event I found myself mesmerized by the history of the magazine as it was presented on stage during a slide show and a panel of authorities discussing the magazine's influence.

Both the publishing and editorial status has been a tad sketchy in the past two decades and the magazine's future remains uncertain. But there can be no doubt that in 2023 the Windy City Pulp and Paper Show will pay tribute to the magazine, including a special limited edition convention program guide with historical essays about the writers who contributed and the editors involved.

Practically every major writer in the literary field contributed some of their finest work including Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Fredric Brown and Theodore Sturgeon. Back issues today can fetch hundreds of dollars in the collecting market, depending on the condition, and an on-going effort to scan each and every issue into digital PDF files is nearing completion. 

What few are aware of is the short-lived radio program from the 1930s that, like The Shadow and Nick Carter, Master Detective, was dramatized from the pages of the magazine. Yes, there was a radio program titled Weird Tales and the program featured adaptations of short stories from the pages of the magazine. Until recently not a single recording was known to exist. Thanks to collector Randy Riddle, a disc was found and transferred to digital format.

Just in time for Halloween you can click the link below and enjoy his blog entry, the Weird Tales recording, and numerous other radio recordings available to listen to for free on his blog.