Friday, April 10, 2020

The SUSPENSE Collector's Companion

Joseph W. Webb, Ph.D., recently released a revised and expanded 2020 edition of his book about radio's Suspense, focusing on various discoveries found through recent archival digging. Rather than focus on the history of the radio program, Joe focuses on the collector aspect such as documenting the missing "lost" recordings, how the 60 minute episodes were recycled for later use as two-part half-hour shows, the ratings for Suspense, a missing segment of the episode titled "The Search," the motion-pictures adapted from Suspense radio scripts, the variations between East and West Coast broadcasts (and the discovery of both versions found for many of the episodes), and so on.

Until a year or two ago, courtesy of Joe Webb, I only knew of two episodes from 1946 that existed with variations: an East Coast and West Coast performance. It seems Joe was comparing recordings from various sources and discovered both versions existed and circulated among collectors. Ever the completist, he began seeking out the multiple renditions. For years various dealers would brag to me about being the person responsible for certain radio programs being made available to collectors from transcription discs. I used to take most of those claims with a grain of salt. Now I suspect multiple people were indeed correct when they claim they were responsible for the transfers, unaware that more than one disc for network programs existed. Joe goes into detail regarding the specific years that both East and West Coast performances were recorded. 

Basically, Joe's book is like a compilation of magazine articles reporting recent findings about Suspense, so his book caters to people who are familiar with the series and wants to explore more than just a history of the program. One episode, for example, was authored by a former inmate of San Quentin. Joe sought out information regarding who the mysterious author was. All of which make fascinating reading and essential for fans of the radio and television program. A link is provided below for your convenience to order.