Opening with a mixture of kettledrums and jazz clarinet, Nightbeat was a 1950s drama about a newspaper columnist, narrating his own half-hour tales of writing a late-night column.
In this thirty-minute adventure series, Frank Lovejoy played Randy Stone, a reporter for the Chicago Star. He cared only for human interest and the people who suffered through life’s hard knocks, with tales of trouble, tenderness, crime and races against time.
Frank Lovejoy was joined by a cast of Hollywood’s strongest supporting voices, often including William Conrad, Gunsmoke’s Matt Dillon, who might be a punch-drunk boxer one week, a dying mobster another, or even Randy Stone's boss.
Each week, Randy's first words set the mood for the episode, which ranged from suspenseful “newsroom-noir” detective-mystery to sentimental melodrama and human interest. The opener usually began this way:
“Hi, this is Randy Stone. I cover the nightbeat for the Chicago Star. My stories start in many different ways. This one began…”
Interestingly, The Ted Carter Murder Case (live on RUSC on Saturday), dated May 19th 1949, starred Edmond O'Brien as 'Hank Mitchell', night reporter on 'The Examiner'. This was the first pilot for the series, and the story followed Mitchell hunting down the killer of an old friend.
Then on 13th January 1950, there was Frank Lovejoy's audition (live on RUSC on Sunday), where the main character is called 'Lucky Stone', who finds himself playing cat and mouse with a killer in a Chicago skyscraper. This show included a little background about his nickname:
“Lucky Stone is the name. I’m the guy that writes that column that’s buried somewhere in the middle of your Examiner, called Night Beat. They call me ‘Lucky’ for the same reason they call a fat man ‘Slim.’ Because the best you can hope for on a job like this is chronic bronchitis, rings under your eyes, and the fact that you’re awake when regular folk are asleep. Sometimes the worst happens to you, a story grabs your heart and shakes it until you holler uncle. A corpse in a dark alley is the business at hand… ”
The show was eventually rewritten to change the names of both reporter and paper, to the permanent 'Randy' Stone, and that version was broadcast a few months later on 8th May 1950, again called Elevator Caper, and starring Frank Lovejoy.