Dragnet the 50's radio show
Old Time Radio Programs. Detective series. 298 episodes of Dragnet.
This recording is part of the Old Time Radio collection.
Thoughtful and engaging
I remember watching old re-runs of the Dragnet 1967 TV show with my dad when I was a kid, then recently I watched a few episodes from the original 1950's TV series after finding some cheaply produced DVD versions of a few of them. Then I found these old radio programs on the internet recently. I must say that these are as good as, if not better than, either of the TV series (although the cigarette advertisements are somewhat laughable today). I enjoy listening to these while riding my bicycle or mowing the lawn, they definitely help to pass the time. The action sequences are a bit hard to follow (with canned gunfire soundbytes interspersed with the protagonists' talking to each other, leaving what is actually happening a little ambiguous until the end.) but this is forgivable, since they comprise only a minute portion of the programs. The dry documentary style of the shows is what sets them apart from most police dramas, both past and present. I actually enjoy the fact that an episode will devote a 2 minute sequence to SGT Friday waiting on hold for an operator to transfer his call, or another similar sequence to SGT Friday and Romero talking to each other from the inside of a car trunk where they are awaiting some unsuspecting criminals...this adds to the realism of the shows...a lot of police work is pretty boring stuff; as the son of a cop myself, I realize this very well. Indeed, most of us will admit, even those of us with the most exciting jobs will have a large part of our day that is fairly mundane. The Dragnet shows capture the mundane aspects of life that most dramatizations miss. I think that these shows are a throwback to a different era; although many have criticized our ancestors (and rightly, at times) for such wrongs as racism and ethnocentrism, listening to these shows has shown me the better side of 1940's and 50's U.S. society. The episodes show a keen awareness of the darker side of life (tackling such crimes as pedophilia, pornography production and distribution, serial killings, and cop shootings), yet they deal with these topics in a sensitive and tasteful way that stands in sharp contradistinction to the tasteless dramatizations that one often sees of such crimes on TV today. Criminals and lowlifes are not glorified with quasi-voyeuristic depictions and descriptions of their vile work, as is so often the case today in law enforcement television programs. I think I have learned a lot about 1950's America just by listening to these episodes, because you pick up on the little subtleties that you're not necessarily going to find in a history book (and the subtleties are just as much in what the characters do say as in what they don't say...there were certain things you just didn't talk about back then, because there were rules of polite behavior that were a bit more conservative, and possibly superior in many ways, to what we have now). The show also makes vague occasional references to the social stigmas associated with being a police officer (One can hear the resigned frustration in the voice of SGT Friday, when, at the end of one program, he simply reflects back at her a lady's accusation: "You're right; I wouldn't understand...I'm a cop).
How times have changed!.....
I'm a retired metropolitan police commander, and knew the business had changed. I just didn't realize how much until I listened to an episode of radio Dragnet. Friday hauls in an entire load of bar customers because they might have seen a shooting. Then, an overnight "dragnet" produces over 200 more suspects who are promptly taken downtown for interrogation. Effective yes... but Friday wouldn't last a week on today's police departments. You can't take anyone "in for questioning." And, there are no suspects anymore either. Well, there are suspects, but you can't do a thing about it unless you have enough evidence to arrest them. The only people the cops take in these days are those which have been arrested for an articulable crime, and evidence exists to prosecute them. Yep, after the first week, Friday would have at least a dozen Title 42/Section 1983 lawsuits pending on him. Worse, his department would side with the plaintiffs by claiming that they told him NOT to conduct himself in that manner. So, Friday would find himself working in the Tow-in-Lot or answering the phones down in Warrants until the Department figured out a way to get rid of him. Joe Friday is incapable of understanding the change in times. In his day his job as a cop was to catch criminals. Today, a cop's first priority is to not get sued. Forget the criminals, because no cop agency ever got sued for NOT catching a criminal. No one sues you for being lazy, and being lazy pays just as much as being vigilant. But never fear because Joe Friday types don't even apply for the job anymore. The business has been changed for so long that even the applicants have evolved. Before I retired, I couldn't believe the numbers of one-year rookies with the attitudes of 20-year veterans. You couldn't get them to work on-time, or devote their time on-duty to catching crooks. They were just as likely to be found reading the newspaper in some remote alley as their gray-haired co-workers.
Great radio show, scary commercials
In hindsight it's somewhat difficult to appreciate just how creative, risk-taking and innovative this remarkable radio show really was. The visionary recipe started by bringing together the institutional documentary style of programs like the Westinghouse "Adventures in Research" with the character dimensions and musical score of a radio soap opera. Webb then mixed in gritty elements considered inappropriate at the time, interviewing 'dance hall girls' and having characters say things like "Do you mind if I eat while we talk?" Targeting the voracious crime-drama appetite of post war America and served with a heaping helping of Roosevelt-era social engineering, Webb used mass media to disseminate cautionary tales to encourage good behavior among the masses. Rendered a cliché by the longevity borne by its overwhelming success, Dragnet is a fascinating study of rapid character development; plot pacing and exploiting the time worn adage that truth really is stranger than fiction. Oh goodness! Those Fatima (Pronounced fa-tee'-ma) cigarette commercials. Using lessons from WWII propaganda, interrogation techniques and the new science of the psychology of consumer behavior, Liggett & Myers (L&M) Tobacco Company tried to resuscitate an aging brand from the late 19th century using radio. According to Wikipedia, "Fatima was the sole sponsor of the early years of the Dragnet radio series. The creator and star of Dragnet, Jack Webb, voiced a number of on-air pitches for the brand and appeared in print advertising as well. There was also a short-lived mystery anthology series called Tales of Fatima, hosted by Basil Rathbone. The brand's old-fashioned image caused it to lose market share from the mid-1950s onward, and L&M eventually phased it out by around 1980."
GREATEST era for Radio
Most kids when they grow up they dream about "when I grow up I'm gonna be a ....". The only job I EVER wanted to do was Radio. I volunteered for the US Army and enjoyed most of my time. When I got out at the ripe old age of 21 (don't know if they still offer it but in the late 70's you'd sign on for 6 years and would do 3 active & 3 inactive. I never lost my desire for radio & lied my way into my very first gig. My 1st PD, Program Director, knew I hadn't been in the business long (I lied that I had experience) & kept preaching TOMA to me. Top Of the Mind Awareness and said it was something they used to preach during the Golden, and Greatest, era of Radio. Even as a kid I LOVED going to the library and listening to cassette tapes of radio shows from the 40's & 50's, so I understood what he was talking about. It didn't mean I would GET how to use TOMA right away but it was the best piece of advice I ever received about the business so I made sure I always used it when I was hiring people! It would have been GREAT to have had an opportunity to appear on these great shows but I have no regrets about the way things played out for me! Regardless, all of these GREAT shows were a part of the GREATEST ERA IN RADIO!!
love my dragnet!!!
i wish they made them like this, everyone one these shows is pure entertainment i found my very first episode five years ago when i stumbled upon them on itunes iphone and after searching the net for more i found the treasure that is INTERNET ARCHIVE!!! lets all support this site with a monthly gift of any amount so they can continue to bring us these wonderful shows from days past...just as pbs offers us unfettered access to quility tv this site gives us what is the best that writers and actors and directors had in the golden age of radio i can say since those first days of listening i find my self more relaxed and in a better state of mind say than after watching some silly tv show i think it was a different time when most of these shows were made and i believe as the quility of what we put in our minds went down with the so did the moral fabric of our souls ... dont believe me instead of watching those disgusting shows at night turn on one of dragnets episodes or a whistler or phillip marlow and sit back with the lights low and just relax with the tone of the words i swear its better than zanax for stress anyway thanks INTERNET ARCHIVE youve givin me many a peaceful evening and my mind lost in the age of old time radio
If you go to the top of this page and click the link under 'Keywords' that says 'Dragnet', it will open two pages of links. Look for the one titled 'Dragnet - Single Episodes - Old Time Radio Researchers Group'. This page has pretty well every extant episode, in very good quality. Alternatively, just go to this link: http://archive.org/details/OTRR_Dragnet_Singles If you want to download the shows in CD-sized zip files, about 400Mb to 700Mb, look for the link that reads 'Dragnet - Old Time Radio Researchers Group', or just go to this page: http://archive.org/details/OTRR_Certified_Dragnet A bonus of downloading the OTRR zip files is that you will also get many features such as pictures, advertising, related shows, and much more, usually on CD1. The first CD zip of the Dragnet series has quite a bit of interesting material. The pages from the OTRR, Old Time Radio Researchers, always have very good quality files, and are as complete as you are likely to find. If there's a show that you're interested in, a page provided by the OTRR is almost always the best place to start. Hope this helped, and nice to meet a fellow Dragnet fan. If you're a die-hard Jack Webb fan, check out his book on police work, 'The Badge', first published in 1958 and still in print at a very good price.
Love the old days and this show
I remember as a boy my grandma got me into talk radio, then thru osmosis, I found an L.A. radio station that would play old time radio at 2 am. I remember the time cause I played in a Rock band at the time and what no one in the audience knew was that I couldn't wait for the show to be over cause it was about a 45 min drive home and I would turn on the old time radio show and think of my grandma. That was the early 90s. Growing up I watched the tv version of dragnet and liked it and now that I"m in my 40s, to find all the episodes of it here if a gift. It was a better time, simpler, more innocent and I wish alot that I grew up back then in the 40s and 50s. Nowdays noone has the morals or honesty of back then. To whoever made and maintains this site...thank you so much and Grandma...I miss you, thank you for sharing your love of radio with me, it never left.
Old Time Radio
Very well done dramatic episodes, tight writing. I thought Jack Webb was a ham (based on watching Dragnet 1967, 1968, and so on; I was a 60s kid), and then I got curious about these episodes on the radio. They are great, and a real eye-opener! We've become so cynical, it's refreshing (and amazing) to think that just a few years before I was born, people had ideals of a much higher kind. People weren't better, mind you; they just had much higher expectations of how to behave. We were much more socially connected, and in the fragmented society of Los Angeles in the early 50s, you can see the fraying edges of what was to come. Listen, learn, and enjoy. A true cold lemonade to the thirsty, time-traveling mind.