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Stroke Of Fate

From October to December 1953, NBC aired a curious historical series, Stroke of Fate . The premise was that if an historical figure had otherwise lived or died or succeeded or failed that the world’s events and situation would have been different. Examples are if Benedict Arnold's treasonous act had been successful, or Robert E. Lee had become general of the Union Army. It was all supported with input of historians and was a way of enriching the understanding of the context and dynamics of historical events. NBC's inspiration was CBS' radio and television success with You Are There . Rather than dropping modern day reporters into historical events, Stroke of Fate offered a cerebral "what if?" approach with dramas of the historical persons in their hypothetical circumstances. Advisors to Mort Lewis, the show’s writer, were noted historian Allen Nevins of Columbia University ( Wikipedia ) and writer Stefan Lorant ( Wikipedia ) who were both well-known and highly respected. The producers had high hopes of Stroke of Fate’s radio success, and that it would lead to a television series. Unfortunately, it ended after 13 weeks. Critics were mixed in their assessment: Billboard liked the premise and the program, but Broadcasting believed that the writers were swayed too much by the historians, causing the basic dramas to not flow as well as they should. They said that the clash of accuracy and art resulted in a broadcast "devoid of artistic merit." All 13 episodes have survived, but only 9 of the 12 episodes in the Hehn collection were of sound quality worth making available on this page. The series was produced in New York, so many of the voices will be familiar to listeners of other NBC New York series such as X Minus One . The four episodes not in the Hehn recordings are: 531108 Benedict Arnold 531129 Battle of Quebec 531220 Submarine Warfare (America's First Secret Weapon) 531227 Norman Conquest of England Perhaps these recordings can be found elsewhere in The Internet Archive. The Wikipedia page for Stroke of Fate is exceptional. It has links to Wikipedia pages for each of the historical events about which Stroke of Fate offered its educated speculation . * * * Joe Hehn (1931-2020) was a pioneering collector of radio recordings when the hobby emerged in the 1960s. The Joe Hehn Memorial Collection is comprised of many recordings and documents. The latter include scripts, program documentation, catalogs of fellow collectors, and old time radio fanzines of the period. These documents are being scanned into Adobe Acrobat PDF files. Digitizing his collection of reel tapes and discs is the effort of a wide range of North American volunteers, and includes assistance of some international collectors. The groups supporting this effort with their funds, time, technology and skills are the Old Time Radio Researchers and a small group of transcription disc preservationists who refer to themselves as the "The Knights of the Turning Table.

This recording is part of the Old Time Radio collection.


Stroke of Fate 531004 Robert E Lee


Stroke of Fate 531011 Earl of Essex (followed by NBC News)


Stroke of Fate 531018 Burr-Hamilton Duel


Stroke of Fate 531025 Marie Antionette


Stroke of Fate 531101 Abraham Lincoln


Stroke of Fate 531115 Julius Caesar


Stroke of Fate 531122 Germany Invades the Rhineland


Stroke of Fate 531206 Our Neighbor in Alaska - Russia


Stroke of Fate 531213 Alexander the Great