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Radio dramas were one of the earliest forms of program offered to the listening audience, and remained popular throughout the ‘golden age’ of radio.  A drama, meaning almost any story that is not comedic, leant itself perfectly to radio.

Relying on original material scripted for radio, or on existing material such as books and stage plays, dramatic presentations on radio depended on the actor’s dialogue and delivery to set the mood and convey the intensity of emotions of the characters in the story.  Music and other sound effects were added to intensify the atmosphere.

Dramatic radio programs consisted of single event episodes where an entire story was told or on series where the story was related over a series of episodes, either daily or weekly.

Dramas usually were about an individual or group of individuals who were embroiled in some type of conflict, and how the person or persons worked to resolve the problem.  The actors were required to convey the thoughts, emotions and actions of the characters through their voices and out to the audience in the best traditions of storytelling.

Lux Radio Theatre, which aired on radio from 1934 to 1955, was a dramatic program whose episodes were adapted from movie scripts.  Over its long history a great number of stars appeared to re-enact their roles from their movies, including Marlene Dietrich, Clark Gable, Leslie Howard, John Wayne, Judy Garland and Lucille Ball.

Broadcast from 1935 to 1953, Cavalcade of America was a dramatic anthology series sponsored by Dupont Chemicals.  The episodes documented historical events by using stories of individual courage, initiative and achievement, with an emphasis on human progress.

Based on the events of World War II, Words At War aired from 1943 to 1945.  The episodes, sometimes introduced as real accounts, revealed the thoughts, opinions and worries of Americans during the war years.

Airing from 1948 to 1962, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar was a radio drama about the adventures of an insurance adjustor.  Working as an independent agent of the United Adjustment Bureau who investigated fraudulent insurance claims, Johnny would travel around the United States.  The episodes consisted of Johnny submitting an itemized expense account for each case, with each expense being the lead-in to the next scene in the story.  According to the announcer, Johnny Dollar was “The man with the action-packed expense account”.  Over its history, no fewer than eight actors appeared as Johnny Dollar, including Dick Powell, Edmond O'Brien, Gerald Mohr, Parley Baer and John Dehner.

Adapted from the novels of C. S. Forester, Horatio Hornblower was a dramatic adventure program broadcast on the radio from 1952 to 1955.  The episodes followed the adventures of Captain Horatio Hornblower of the British Royal Navy, during the Napoleonic era of mighty sailing ships, as he and his crew battled other ships on the high seas.

Gripping dramatic episodes were also offered on radio programs like Adventures By Morse, Arch Oboler's Plays, The Campbell Playhouse, The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Hallmark Playhouse.

You are invited to listen to these and other exciting and dramatic stories here on Matinee Classics.  There are hundreds of hours of entertainment, and more to be added.

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