Home Up Feedback Search


The Whistler (30 min)

Show Description

“I am the Whistler and I know many things, for I walk by night.” Our new stories deal with time honored themes of greed, revenge, jealousy, betrayal and murder. And, yes, the bad guy or girl never gets away with the crime. The finely-crafted plot twist at the end metes out justice.

Show History

The Whistler was one of radio’s most popular mystery dramas, as indicated by the lengthy 13-year run of the series from May 16, 1942 until September 22, 1955. Writer-producer J. Donald Wilson established the tone of the show during its first two years, and he was followed in 1944 by producer-director George Allen. Other directors included Sterling Tracy and Sherman Marks with final scripts by Joel Malone and Harold Swanton. A total of 692 episodes were produced, yet despite the series’ fame, over 200 episodes are lost today.

At night, glowing car radios illuminated dashboards, and drivers traveled dark highways while the Whistler began his ominous narration: “I am the Whistler, and I know many things, for I walk by night. I know many strange tales, many secrets hidden in the hearts of men and women who have stepped into the shadows. Yes, I know the nameless terrors of which they dare not speak.” That opening was intoned along with the echo of footsteps and Wilbur Hatch‘s haunting theme, whistled weekly by Dorothy Roberts for 13 years. Spike Jones provided the parody: “I am the Whistler, and I know many things, for I walk by night. I have to – I can’t sleep.”

Bill Forman had the title role of host and narrator. Others who portrayed the Whistler at various times were Gale Gordon, Joseph Kearns, Marvin Miller, Bill Johnstone and Everett Clarke. The stories followed an effective formula in which a person’s criminal acts were typically undone by their own stupidity; ironic twist endings were common. The Whistler narrated, often commenting directly upon the action in the manner of a Greek chorus, taunting the criminal from an omniscient perspective. Unlike Suspense, The Whistler never featured any major Hollywood stars. But the quality of its writing and performance made it a radio mainstay that is greatly admired to this day.

Send mail to webmaster@americanradiotheater.com with questions or comments about this web site. Copyright © 2007-2013 Welty Brothers Studios. Last modified: 08/04/13. (Chicago skyline photo from WindyCityImages.com)