Classic Radio’s Scariest Moments
The Mercury Theatre
The Mercury Theatre on the Air series began in 1938 and was started by the great Orson Welles and has gone on to become one of the most revered radio dramas in history, having been inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1988. Though the show itself didn’t concentrate on haunting its listeners it did have a few moments that chilled them to the core, one of those being perhaps the shows greatest achievement of all, it’s episode titled ‘War of the Worlds’. Aired as a sixty-minute Halloween special, this was Welles’ take on the H. G. Wells book of the same name. He presented it as an ordinary radio show, the Welles himself interrupts the “usual programming” to release an urgent news bulletin, what follows is the reporting of an alien invasion from mars. This may not sound so scary now but at the time it fooled many listeners into thinking it was real and caused something of a panic too.
This show originally ran between 1947 and 1949 though at the time didn’t really gain much notoriety. Since then however it has gained a newfound appreciation and has gone on to be known as one of the scariest and best radio dramas ever to be produced. There are around 100 episodes of the show each one as chilling as the last, though of course there are some stand out moments. Perhaps its most spine-tingling episode is ‘The Thing on the Fourble Board’, in this episode we follow a man who goes by the name of Porky working on an oil derrick. He and his friend meet up to enjoy a nice plate of pork chops, but all is not as it seems when they discover that something eerie has risen from a mile below the earth. The sound effects in this episode will shake you to the very core! You can listen to this and all the episodes of this great series here.
With a name like this you better believe the show has to live up to it, and I can tell you that it does, time and time again. You may have already heard of this show, it is one of the world’s most successful radio dramas to ever hit the radio waves and ran for an impressive 20 years between 1942 and 1962 with more than 900 episodes in its roster. There are so many good episodes that it’s hard to pick just one moment among them so I have picked the one that is considered to be the most popular and successful, ‘Sorry, Wrong Number’. This is a story about a lady who tries to call her husband at work one night to check in with him and find out when he’ll be getting home from the office. Somehow the wires at the telephone switchboard get crossed and she becomes privy to a conversation she really shouldn.t be listening to. What follows are some unfortunate consequences along with a twist ending that you’ll never see coming.