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Breaking Walls

Storytelling Podcasts

Breaking Walls: The Podcast on the History of American Network Radio Broadcasting.

Breaking Walls: The Podcast on the History of American Network Radio Broadcasting.


United States


Breaking Walls: The Podcast on the History of American Network Radio Broadcasting.






Arch Oboler Tells a Funny Story About Boris Karloff Being Afraid of Kids

On August 5th, 1976, Chuck Schaden was a guest at Arch Oboler's home for a conversation about the noted writer and director's career (full interview here - Throughout the course of the conversation, Mr. Oboler told a funny story about Boris Karloff being afraid of children.


The Jack Benny Program: The IRS visits Jack Because He Spent $17 on Entertainment

On the April 15th, 1951 episode of The Jack Benny program, Jack's in trouble with the IRS for spending $17 on entertainment. The trouble began the previous week, and would continue into the following week when Jack took his cast to the circus.


Lawrence Dobkin On The Differences Between The NY and LA Radio Industry

On August 9th, 1986, Lawrence Dobkin, Lillian Buyeff, and Don Diamond were guests of SPERDVAC for a conversation about their radio careers. During the course of the conversation, Dobkin (who started in New York before moving to Los Angeles) explained the difference in attitudes between the two cities.


Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: Gerald Mohr Auditions As Dollar—08/29/1955

In 1955 CBS was relaunching Yours Truly Johnny Dollar as an evening strip to air weeknights for fifteen minutes. On August 29th, 1955 Gerald Mohr recorded an audition for the lead. Mohr recently finished a successful run as Christopher Storm on TV’s Foreign Intrigue.


Dragnet: The Big Compulsion—04/12/1953

On the April 12th, 1953 episode of Dragnet, Detective Sergeant Joe Friday is assigned to Robbery Detail. Somewhere in the city a man has been making phony calls, endangering the lives officers. With a simple dime, this man is disrupting law and order in the city of Los Angeles, for a joke. The detectives don't like it. It’s Friday’s job to get him


Fibber McGee and Molly: Bargain Day at the Bon Ton—04/11/1955

It's bargain day at the Bon Ton department store in Wistful Vista. Naturally Fibber McGee is caught in the crowds. He has to be saved by Molly. Fibber asks what they're doing there in the first place. Can you guess what her answer is? These fifteen-minute serial episodes of Fibber McGee and Molly from 1953-1956 are often overlooked and underrated. For more on this era of the show, listen to Breaking Walls Episode 103: A Weekend at the Malt Shop with Fibber McGee and Molly (1955)


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Orson Welles Shares His Thoughts on Hollywood

In the 1950s, Orson Welles sat down with the BBC for a wide-ranging chat on his career. In this short clip he shares his thoughts on Hollywood. Photo: Orson Welles with then-wife Rita Hayworth and Ann Southern.


The Bob Hope Show: Guest Grace Kelly—05/14/1954

This is the May 14th, 1954 episode of Bob Hope's radio show featuring Grace Kelly in a rare radio appearance by the Hollywood star. Ms. Kelly was twenty-five at the time.


Gunsmoke: Bloody Hands (Alafraganza)—04/02/1955

The April 2nd. 1955 episode of Gunsmoke was incredibly unique to the rest of the radio series. Matt Dillon has had enough death and destruction for his lifetime and quits as Marshall. Unfortunately, he's the only one who can stop the trouble coming Dodge City's way, proving that whether he likes it or not, there's only one man the killers and spoilers look for and don't want to meet. This John Meston script was, in many ways, well ahead of its time. Although it wasn't expressed as such, Matt...


Gunsmoke Director Norman Macdonnell On How Executive Committees Hurt Radio in the 1950s

In 1976 Radio producer/director Norman Macdonnell sat down for a documentary interview with John Hickman on Gunsmoke. Macdonnell directed the series during its entire radio run from 1952-1961. During the interview, he spoke of how radio's changing executive in the 1950s helped hasten radio drama's network demise. The late John Hickman was the longtime host of WAMU's "Recollections" which today is known as "The Big Broadcast."


Fort Laramie: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar Promo—05/06/1956

At the end of the Sunday, May 6th, 1956 episode of Fort Laramie entitled "Never the Twain," CBS broadcast a promotional spot for Yours Truly Johnny Dollar, which was then airing five nights per-week in a fifteen-minute serial format. The Dollar five-part story which began the next night was called "The Silver Blue Matter." Neither show was sponsored. Fort Laramie would air its last episode on October 28th, and the following week Johnny Dollar aired the last of its five-part serials.


Bill Conrad Jokes About How He Was Cast as Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke

In 1976 John Hickman of WAMU put together an expansive five-part audio documentary on the history of the radio version of Gunsmoke, complete with cast and production crew interviews, show clips, and reflections. During the course of his interview, Bill Conrad joked about how he was cast as the lead, Matt Dillon in 1952.


Marilyn Monroe On Why She Loves Brooklyn

Photo: Marilyn Monroe in New York City, as photographed by Eve Arnold in 1955. On the debut episode of NBC's Monitor on June 12th, 1955, Dave Garroway sat down for an interview with Marilyn Monroe. He'd heard she was permanently moving to New York, but was surprised to hear where she really wanted to live.


Desi Arnaz Jokes About His Family Lineage With Johnny Carson

In 1976 Desi Arnaz appeared on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show to promote his newly released autobiography, "A Book." In this clip, Desi jokes about his family lineage prior to revolution in Cuba.


Raymond Burr On His First Paid Acting Role at Age Eleven

In 1963, during the height of Perry Mason's television fame, Raymond Burr sat down with Jack Webster for an interview about his career and the changes that playing Perry Mason brought into his life. During the course of the conversation, Webster asked Burr about his first professional acting role.


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Have you been enjoying Breaking Walls? If so, give us a quick rating on whatever platform you listen, especially iTunes!


BW - EP114: Sunday Afternoons at Fort Laramie (1956)

In Breaking Walls episode 114, as America moves to the suburbs in the mid-1950s, we move with them and examine a radio western called Fort Laramie. Although it only aired for ten months, it’s one of the most critically acclaimed western shows the genre ever produced. —————————— Highlights: • The Network Radio Landscape in 1956 • Norman MacDonnell loses Gunsmoke’s TV Production • Who Is William Raymond Stacy Burr and What Has He Really Done? • Launching Fort Laramie • Easter Sunday, 1956 •...


NBC News with Robert Trout—03/20/1949

At 4:30PM on March 20th, 1949 Robert Trout took to the air for NBC with five minutes of news, sponsored by Pillsbury. As Spring of 1949 began five of radio’s top-ten programs aired on CBS, four on NBC, and one on ABC. Just one year prior, NBC controlled thirteen of the top fifteen shows on the air. The broadcasting landscape was shifting. Internationally, the Cold War in Berlin had grown tense. On March 19th, the East German People's Council in Berlin adopted a constitution. It called for...


The Story Behind The Birth Of Gunsmoke

This is a snippet from Breaking Walls Episode 90: The Hollywood People Behind Radio’s Baby Boomer Boom (1945 - 1954) ___________ By 1951 director Norman MacDonnell and writer John Meston were working on multiple projects at CBS and continuing their refinement of the radio western. On August 6th the series Romance broadcast a western named “Pagosa,” which starred William Conrad in the title role of Jeff Spain. Macdonnell approached CBS brass about the possibility of doing a Jeff Spain series....