Mar 20, 2020
By Valerie Massie
Lights Out debuted in 1934 and was radio’s premier horror series. Director and writer, Wyllis Cooper’s writing was characterized by grisly stories always matched with the appropriate acting and sound effects, he conceived in 1933 the idea of writing a dramatic midnight mystery serial catchy enough to the listeners’ attention at a time when the competition was mostly airing music. In June 1936 another Chicago writer, Arch Oboler, took over. By the time Cooper left, the series had inspired about 600 fan clubs. Arch Oboler was eccentric and ambitious when he took over and picked up where Cooper left off, following the latter’s general example but investing the scripts with his own concerns using streams of conscious narration and sometimes social and political themes that reflected his commitment to anti-fascist liberalism. Although Lights Out would be closely associated with Oboler later on, he would always credit Wyllis Cooper as the series’ creator and spoke highly of him as “the unsung pioneer of radio dramatic techniques” and the first person he knew who understood that radio drama is an art form.
And stay tuned for that husband and wife team, Phil Harris and Alice Faye, to entertain. Tonight, Phil is on “Jury Duty”.