31 Days Of Horror 2020: Relic Radio Celebrates A Golden Age

Finally, it’s Halloween week…Halloweek? At any rate, I’ve got Garfield’s Halloween Adventure, Trick ‘r Treat, and The Paul Lynde Halloween Special all chambered and ready to fire at a moment’s notice. It’s safe to say that I’ve got the video portion covered, but what about the audio? What of it?!?

Sure, you could sit around on All Hallows Eve and once again listen to the local NPR affiliate run Orson Welles’ War Of The Worlds for the hundredth time OR you could try out something that’s both more modern yet decidedly retro.

The Relic Radio network of podcasts puts out weekly shows consisting of some of the finest shows from the Golden Age of radio. The two that I’ve been listening to for well over a decade now are The Horror and Strange Tales, and I must say both of those fall right under the banner of “seasonally appropriate.”

Many of the shows clock in at about 30 minutes and include a brief intro from the podcast’s producer that provides some historical background along the lines of how many episodes were produced, where they originated, and how many episodes survived to present day. The bulk of the shows were produced from the late 1930s up until the 1960s when TV began to take over, but there are a few like CBS Radio Mystery Theater that ran in the 70s and 80s.

In preparation for writing this piece I had reached out to the host/producer of Relic Radio in hopes of securing an interview. Jim, the man behind it all, politely declined, choosing to retain an air of mystery by remaining largely anonymous. I have to say that I respect that; a good magician never reveals all their secrets. The fact remains that Relic Radio has been tirelessly producing podcasts for about a dozen years now, all ad-free and listener supported. That’s no small feat.

As a longtime listener, I would encourage you to give the podcasts a listen. We may very well be in a new era or original audio dramas with the advent of podcasts and Audible books, some of which mimic the style of old radio plays. The Relic Radio shows provide a fascinating look back to the days when radio was the preferred form of entertainment and the shows they produced reflected that. Shows like Lights Out, The Hermit’s Cave, The Witch’s Tale, and Quiet Please are all great and spooky listens for cold nights in late October.

After ninety-eight years and eight months my grandmother passed away early this month. I won’t say that it’s been particularly rough for me, I feel incredibly privileged to have made it into my forties with a grandparent around. She lived a long, long time and by my estimate she had ninety-five good years before gradually succumbing to dementia.

My grandfather passed away in 2006 and after that I would drop in to visit my grandmother from time to time outside of the mandated Thanksgiving/Christmas/Easter gatherings she continued to host. During those visits I would often be regaled with stories about my grandfather as well as my aunts, uncle, and father. On one such visit she told me of a time when her and my grandfather were dating in the late 30s and he took her to WJR here in Detroit, Michigan to see a live broadcast of a radio show.

It just so happened that she remembered the name of the production company (The Mummers) which lit a lightbulb in my head and I was able to take out my iPhone and play her an episode of The Hermit’s Cave. Now, she didn’t remember the specific episode she saw performed, and in the interest of full disclosure she told me that seeing it done kind of took away from the overall experience. I was blown away that she actually got to SEE what The Hermit (one of several) looked like! But, “it was kind of silly,” she told me.

I felt lucky that I was able to connect with my grandmother over something she thought was probably lost to time and now I have an odd (but tenuous) personal connection to, “Ghost stories! Weird stories. And murders, too! The Hermit knows of them all! Turn out your lights. Turn them out, and listen while the Hermit tells you…”

Visit RelicRadio.com or where ever you get podcasts to listen to The Horror and Strange Tales.

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