(4.7 stars; 35 reviews)

This series ran from 6/3/49 to 2/26/57 on NBC at various times and days and starred Jack Webb as Detective Sergeant Joe Friday. Various partners throughout the show's run were Sergeant Ben Romero (Barton Yarborough), Ed Jacobs (Barney Phillips), and Officer Frank Smith (Ben Alexander). Webb was the creator/Director of the series and wanted everything to be as authentic as possible, down to the last sound effect. The stories were based on actual police files and "the names were changed to protect the innocent". Dragnet broke a few radio taboos as well, such as dramatizing sex crimes. Children also were killed on occasion as in the episode "Twenty-Two Rifle For Christmas". The series eventually went to television and ran there for many years. The familiar DUM DE DUM DUM, the first four notes of the opening theme composed by Walter Schumann, became a pop culture legend and was forever associated with Webb, Dragnet, and just plain getting in trouble.

This recording is part of the Old Time Radio collection.


Benny Trounsel 29:56
Big 38 29:18
Big Actor 31:20
Big Badge 28:54
Big Betty 23:37
Big Bindle 30:36
Big Blast 29:02
Big Bomb 25:57
Big Book 29:01
Big Boys 27:56
Big Break 29:12
Big Building 29:34
Big Car 29:25
Big Casing 28:53
Big Cast 29:15
Big Chance 28:18
Big Check 28:25
Big Children 29:32
Big Church 29:14
Big Cliff 26:32
Big Couple 29:25
Big Dance 29:18
Big Dare 28:58
Big Death 27:40
Big Drifter 30:36
Big Escape 29:15
Big Fake 29:31
Big Gangster (Part 1) 28:55
Big Gangster (Part 2) 29:12
Big Gent (Part 1) 29:32
Big Gent (Part 2) 29:31
Big Girl 58:20
Big Grab 28:34
Big Grandma 29:20
Big Holdup 29:28
Big Imposter 30:22
Big In-Laws 28:37
Big Job 29:20
Big Jump 28:53
Big Key 29:03
Big Knife 29:03
Big Late Script 29:37
Big Love 29:50
Big Mailman 28:52
Big Make 28:12
Big Man (Part 1) 58:49
Big Man (Part 2) 58:55
Big Mink 29:12
Big Missing 29:10
Big Mother 28:07
Big Pair 29:35
Big Parrot 29:00
Big Pictures 27:05
Big Poison 28:23
Big Press 29:12
Big Pug 29:12
Big Quack 29:03
Big Run 28:52
Big Saint 30:27
Big Screen 29:25
Big Set-Up 29:49
Big Smart Guy 29:31
Big Sophmore 26:26
Big Speech 28:55
Big Threat 28:56
Big Tomato 22:48
Big Trial 26:22
Big Watch 28:59
Big Winchester 28:43
Big Youngster 28:33
Brick-Bat slayer 29:24
City Hall Bombing 29:16
Eric Kelby 29:20
Big Frame 29:45
Garbage Chute 29:02
Helen Corday Murdered 29:15
Homicide 28:51
Jade Thumb Rings 29:06
James Vickers 29:34
Mother-In-Law Murder 29:01
Police Academy-Mario Koski 29:21
Red Light Bandit 29:19
Robbery 32:23
Roseland Murder 30:38
Spring Street Gang 29:10
Sullivan Kidnapping-The Wolf 29:18
The Big Firend 29:08
The Big Kill 58:53
The Big Meet 26:42
The Big Thank You 58:55
The Nickel Plated Gun 28:42
The Redhead 30:03
The Werewolf Rpbbery 29:23
Tom Laval 29:01
Twenty-Two Rifle For Christmas 29:12


That's okay, Ma, I'll just make a sandwich

(5 stars)

I wanted to add in that not only was DRAGNET on radio a fine police drama, but it was, to me, a wonderful record of its time. It documented a number of conventions of life in this time (how accurately I can't say) and not the big ones like politics or war. It includes details like how someone made a long-distance phone call, or would hang their laundry out - things that told me what the life of the ordinary person was like circa early 1950's. The line in my review title tells you what Joe Friday said to his mother regularly. She was a great character that popped up occasionally and great fun for me to hear. The actress who played her was Peggy Webber, who played an endless stream of many different women. I love listening just to hear her many voices. NOTE: Avoid reading the name of the show before listening to the broadcast! Once I did and an important surprise was revealed in the title.

Just the Facts

(5 stars)

In OTR, as with much media, there are some great moments and a lot of stinkers. Jack Webb had more than his share of Great Moments. Dragnet was dead on perfect for what it was. It was a crime drama in a time when crime was being given a place at the table in popular American culture. No longer the stuff of heroic myth making or pulp soap opera like so much of what had come before, crime was the ugly cousin who was at your house to stay. Dragnet was a response to this. Other shows tired and hit it to varying degrees, listen to the 21st Precinct for a good example, but Dragnet set the bar for any crime related show that came after it. Look at any Law And Order episode and you will see Dragnet's influence in force. CSI, Coldcase, any of the crimes shows of this type have a direct lineage to Dragnet. None of the names in this review were changed to protect the innocent.

The Show and recordings

(3 stars)

In the past I enjoyed working at the Los Angeles Police Historical Society, while there I saw boxes of the recordings for this show, I volunteered more than once to record them, however someone else beat me to it, never did find out who they were. Also, was told that the City Clerks Archivist had other boxes of these records, but never saw them. I was told that when Jack Webb or a repersentitive, donated them to the Historical Society, that the labels of each recording were torn off them. The records I saw did have the labels torn off. I would truly like to hear someday that the Historical Society put out some CD's of those recordings. You can find the Historical Society on the Web. Just Google: Los Angeles Police Historical Society. Located on York Boulevard just west of North Figueroa St in L.A.


(5 stars)

Twenty-rifle for chistmas was the saddest an best of the Dragnet radio. I hope we have come a long ways that a parent would not give a gun or rifle to a nine year old child. Dragnet got a lot of letters about this show an the NRA was not happy. But that's not a new thing. An the acting an sound was great.

A Classic

(5 stars)

I grew up watching reruns of the second television version (1967-70) of "Dragnet". I later discovered the first television version (1952-59) of the show through the limited episodes which have been released on DVD, and more recently, the original version heard on radio. Prior to "Dragnet", crime drama on radio and in the movies often was very unrealistic with stereotypes of both police and criminals. NBC Radio's decision to pick up "Dragnet" as a summer replacement in 1949 was a gutsy one, as no one at the network knew whether people would be interested in an extremely realistic crime drama. Indeed, that first summer, the show was "sustaining" (meaning it had no commercial sponsors), but it quickly found an audience. That fall, Liggett and Myers (a major cigarette manufacturer; back then, it was legal to advertise cigarettes on the radio) agreed to sponsor the program. For the first few years, L&M used the show to promote Fatima cigarettes; later, Chesterfield and L&M Filters were promoted on the series. "Dragnet" came to NBC-TV as a midseason replacement in January, 1952 and had a very successful seven and a half season run. It was later revived on NBC-TV, with new episodes, for three and a half seasons from 1967 until 1970. "Dragnet" should be considered a milestone program in the evolution of radio and TV dramatic series.

Thad Brown: The Garbage Chute

(4 stars)

Is there a website I can go to, to see cast members of old Dragnet radio episodes? I’m hooked on these old time radio shows and listen to them when I do my 4.5 mile walk each day. There are voices that I’m sure I have seen the individuals on TV shows. Two in particular are both Captains of Friday and Romero. The first one was Captain Ed Backstrand and I believe he was Raymond Burr. The second was the character Captain Thad Brown and he sounds like R.G. Armstrong. Plus there are voices that I’m sure I hear on a regular basis being more than one character in different episodes.

Yes, yes, all of the above. Great fun!

(5 stars)

Karvatromix, there's actually quite a bit of OTR material set in or around L.A., of which Philip Marlowe is the best known besides Dragnet. Off the top of my head there's also Stand By For Crime, featuring a tough investigative reporter, and most overlooked of all, Calling All Cars, a police procedural show from the 1930s. Among other things, you can hear about a raid on the last opium den in Chinatown--that's Old Chinatown where Union Station is today. Oh and lest I forget: also Nightwatch, an unscripted reality show featuring the Culver City PD as they go out on their patrols.

Long Live Fatima!!!

(5 stars)

Dragnet is a "just the facts" cultural time-capsule in more ways than one. Los Angeles is not the subject of many shows (can't recall any at the moment) of the radio era. And for anyone familiar with Los Angeles and OTR shows, it is just fun to hear street names like Sepulveda and other geographical names in the context of the show... Great pacing and sound effects. One of the MP3 discs I cannot use for my insomnia.