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Friday, March 22, 2013

Mutual Radio Theater


First show: Mar 3, 1980 Original shows: 103 Last show: Dec 10, 1980
Number of programs aired including new and repeats: 210

Hosts: Lorne Greene, Andy Griffith, Vincent Price, Cicely Tyson, Leonard Nimoy

In December 1979 the Mutual Broadcasting System acquired the Sears Radio Theater renaming it, the MUTUAL Radio Theater. It retained the same format as before with the same theme for different nights of the week. Lorne Greene remained host for Monday's Western night, Andy Griffith handled Tuesday's Comedy, Vincent Price still was host for Mystery on Wednesdays, Cicely Tyson did Love on Thursday, while Leonard Nimoy was now the Friday night Adventure host. As before the series aired week nights, Monday through Friday.

The Mutual Radio Theater debuted Mar 3, 1980 and was to run for 13 weeks on almost 300 stations. The shows were then to be repeated over the summer and fall. It proved to be fairly successful and another 8 weeks of original programs were added; this was followed by another 8 weeks of repeats. The series was broadcast in stereo, making it the only commercial radio network drama program in the nation to use this technology at the time.

Great writers were employed for this series including Arch Oboler and Norman Corwin. Good choices were made when it came to cast members. Old familiar voices and names included Janet Waldo, John Dehner, Vic Perrin, Mary Jane Croft, Hans Conried, Marvin Miller, Parley Baer, Elliot Lewis, Jeff Corey, Virginia Gregg, Lesley Woods, Robert Rockwell and Lurene Tuttle. Then from movies and TV - Eve Arden, Keith Andes, Harriet Nelson, Aan Young, Tom Bosley and Marian Ross, Lloyd Bochner, Rick Jason, Frank Campanella, Toni Tennille, Arthur Hill, Dan O'Herlihy, Jesse White and Frank Nelson.

A curious note: Many collectors and vendors list a total of 104 broadcasts. Apparently what was done by them was to count a repeat of "The Ship", first broadcast on March 7, 1980 as another show when it was aired again during the first 13 week cycle (May 23, 1980).

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References: Old Time Radio Researchers Group, Wikipedia, Frank Passage & Others OTR Logs, Archive.org, Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio by John Dunning, Australian Old Time Radio Group

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