Radio Reader's Digest

Radio Reader's Digest

The Radio Reader's Digest was a series of true stories taken from the Reader's Digest magazine. There were 273 episodes in total, and they were broadcast between 1942 and 1948.

Beginning in September of 1942, CBS first broadcast the Radio Reader's Digest show, which surprisingly wasn’t actually sponsored by Reader's Digest, a general interest family magazine founded in 1922 by DeWitt Wallace and Lila Bell Wallace. However, the stories used were supplied by them from past or current issues, and then specially adapted for radio broadcast. 

The series was originally sponsored by Campbell Soups, but it was later taken over by Hallmark Cards who were the sponsors for the majority of its broadcast history. Soon after their sponsorship began, people started to refer to the show as The Hallmark Program, until Hallmark eventually took over completely. 

The final Radio Reader's Digest show was broadcast on 3rd June 1948, with the now vacant radio slot being filled the following week with the launch of The Hallmark Playhouse, which although followed the same format, was a huge break from the Radio Reader's Digest because the stories were adapted from literary best sellers, with some stories that were obscure such as the leprechaun tales in O’Halloran’s Luck by Stephen Vincent Benet - rather than the true stories from the Reader's Digest magazine, such as The Baron of Arizona, the story of a man who actually convinced the United States Government that he owned the state of Arizona...

Conrad Nagel hosted the Radio Reader's Digest series until December 10, 1944 and also played a character in some of the stories that Reader's Digest provided. Other hosts included Quinton Reynolds, Richard Kollmar, and Les Tremayne. Stars for the shows on The Hallmark Playhouse included Irene Dunn, Bob Hope, Gregory Peck and Lionel Barrymore. 

I believe there are at least 115 episodes still in existence, and Joy and I currently have sourced 72 of these, and 62 of The Hallmark Playhouse shows, which will all be available on RUSC.

Introduced as tales of thrills, drama, suspense and laughs this is certainly what they are and I have yet to be disappointed by one of these dramas.