How Being a Chicago Cubs Fan Led to a Love of Old Time Radio


One thing that surprises a lot of people about me when they find out is that I am a huge sports nut. I love watching sports both live and on tv, and I am more knowledgeable about sports than a lot of guys I know. Thanks to my dad, I have been a Chicago Cubs fan since I was five years old and a Green Bay Packer fan since about seven or eight.

I watched a ton of games with my dad over the years including my first Cubs game at Wrigley Field when I was 6 years old. I also used to love to sit in our backyard with him on warm summer days and listen to Cubs games on his small transistor radio. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be able to go back to those days especially now that he is gone.

A New Love for Old Time Radio

Somewhere along the way though, I lost my enjoyment of listening to baseball on the radio. I’m a very visual person, and I just didn’t like being unable to see the action. However, last summer I was listening to a game in my car just to check the score, and after a while I realized I was really enjoying it again. Maybe because it reminded me of those special times I had with my dad.

Realizing that I once again loved listening to baseball on the radio led me to consider listening to old time radio shows as well. I really enjoy listening to several movie podcasts, and two new ones I found recently are Down These Mean Streets and Attaboy Clarence, which both highlight the wonderful world of old time radio and provide an opportunity to listen to programs from the past.

I suspect that if it not for my revived love of listening to Chicago Cubs games on the radio, I may never have given old time radio a try and would not have discovered those two great podcasts. I’m so thankful I did, because it has opened up a whole new world to me that has brought me much enjoyment.

Old Movies & Old Time Radio Collide: Discovering Detective Ellery Queen

After recently watching the movie Alibi for Murder (1936), I did a little research on lead actor William Gargan and learned that he was well known for his roles as both Ellery Queen and Martin Kane on old time radio programs. I noticed that there were a couple Ellery Queen episodes on the Down These Mean Streets Podcast, so I listened to one and learned some very interesting information about the history of Ellery Queen that made me want to know more.

The character of Ellery Queen was created in 1928 by cousins Frederic Danay and Manfred Lee, and was possibly one of the best known fictional detectives in the 1930s and 1940s. He was the main character in several novels, old time radio and television programs and movies during those decades and beyond. In the Ellery Queen stories, the title character helped to solve baffling murders working alongside his father Richard Queen, an inspector with the NYPD.

A Fun Twist: A Challenge to the Readers and Listeners

One of the things that made the books and radio/tv programs special were the “Challenges to the Reader or Listener” which challenged the audience to guess the solution to the crime before it was revealed. In the books, it was a single page near the end declaring that the reader had seen all the same clues Ellery had and that only one solution was possible. On the radio and television programs, it featured guest armchair detectives, often times Hollywood celebrities, who would give their theory on who committed the crime.

The Adventures of Ellery Queen Radio and Television Programs

The Adventures of Ellery Queen radio program was broadcast on all three of the main networks from 1939 to 1948.  The episode I listened to was called “One Diamond,” which aired on May 6, 1948 on ABC. It featured actors Howard Culver, Herb Butterfield, and Kay Brinkler, and the celebrity guest armchair detective was singer Peggy Lee. Unfortunately she guessed incorrectly, but I cut her some slack as it was a tough one and I didn’t get it right either. :-)

There was also an Adventures of Ellery Queen television program that ran at various times throughout the 1950s with Richard Hart, Lee Bowman, Hugh Marlowe, George Nader and Lee Philips all playing the character of Ellery Queen at different times.

Ellery Queen MysteriesThe series was revived again in 1975-1976 with a show on NBC with Jim Hutton playing the title role. A period piece set in New York City in 1946-1947, each episode contained a “Challenge to the Viewer” and a number of Hollywood celebrities appeared on the show including Don Ameche, Dana Andrews, Roddy McDowall, Vincent Price, and Cesar Romero. The series was created by William Link and Richard Levinson who also produced the television shows Murder She Wrote and Columbo.

Ellery Queen in the Movies with Ralph Bellamy and William Gargan

Several Ellery Queen movies were also made in the 1930s and 1940s, with Ralph Bellamy starring as Ellery Queen in five films along with Margaret Lindsay playing his secretary, Nikki Porter. William Gargan followed Bellamy appearing in two movies, A Close Call for Ellery Queen (1942) and A Desperate Chance for Ellery Queen (1942) also with Margaret Lindsay.

Are you a fan of old time radio? What are some of your favorite shows or characters?


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  1. Karen says:

    Interesting stuff, Ginny! (I’ll forgive you the Green Bay Packers. LOL) That Challenge to the Listeners segment sounds like fun. I had quite an obsession with old-time radio several years ago — it’s how I discovered my favorite show, My Favorite Husband, and my second favorite, Our Miss Brooks. In addition to these shows, I bought dozens of cassette tapes of other shows, like Lux Radio Theatre and The Jack Benny Show. Unfortunately, I finally bought a new car (with no cassette tape player!!), so I haven’t been able to enjoy them lately. But your post makes me want to find these on CD!

    • Ginny says:

      Thanks Karen! I hope being a fan of one Chicago team is enough for us to still be friends. 😉 That’s cool that we have another interest in common. Now I want to check out those two shows! I never knew the story of My Favorite Husband being the basis for I Love Lucy (I just looked it up). Very interesting. I hope you’re able to find some of your favorites on CD!

  2. Jimbo says:

    Its amazing how many otr fans I know who found it because of baseball on the radio. When I was 10-11, we were lucky to see 21-25 games on tv, plus the Saturday game.

    Ah, radio.

    • Ginny says:

      That’s very cool. I guess I never thought about how many others were influenced by baseball on the radio. I got to see plenty of games on WGN when I was growing up, but there was something extra special about enjoying a beautiful summer day with baseball on the radio. I look forward to exploring your website and listening to some episodes of Vic and Sade. Thanks so much for the comment!

  3. Hey, Ginny. Thanks so much for the mention on your fantastic site. Always great to meet a fellow classic movie/OTR fan, and wonderful to hear that such a knowledgeable and discerning person is listening my show. All the best to you, and keep on keeping on.

    Adam (Attaboy Clarence)

  4. Ginny says:

    Hi Adam! You’re welcome, and thank you for all the work you put into producing your very entertaining and fun show. It’s very much appreciated!

  5. Frances says:

    Oh, aren’t those old shows GREAT !
    I feel like I was born too late. Wish I could have enjoyed the original Golden Ages of both radio and movies (before tv)
    Growing up I heard Mom and Dad talk about “Amos and Andy”, “Fibber Magee and Molly” mostly.

    About 10 years ago (in my 40s), someone introduced me to the old detective and mystery shows.
    I was immediately hooked !
    My faves are Suspense, The Whistler, Escape, Murder at Midnight, The Black Museum (Orson Wells), Dimension X, Inner Sanctum, The Clock, Lights Out, Zero Hour (Rod Serling), X Minus One, Lux Radio Theatre, Molle Mystery Theatre, Dark Fantasy, and my very favorite
    (drum roll, please)
    BOX 13 with Alan Ladd. WHAT A VOICE !
    THANK YOU so MUCH, Ginny, for keeping the past alive.
    Keep up the GOOD WORK !
    Peace, Love and Blessings !

    I was immediately hooked !
    My faves are Suspense,

    • Ginny says:

      Thanks Frances! I’m just scratching the surface when it comes to listening to old time radio, so it’s exciting when I realize how many great programs there are for me to try! Thanks for all the suggestions! I’m eager to give some of them a listen.