THE BEST FREE AUDIO DRAMA INTERNET SITES

Selected by Mark Leeper, last updated December 11, 2014
Online version of this list: http://leepers.us/radio.htm
Please send comments and suggested additions to 
mleeper@optonline.net

 Copyright 2011,2012, 2013, 2014 Mark R. Leeper



Those of you who have read the MT VOID for a while know that I have a special interest in audio drama.  It is particularly convenient to download it from the Internet.   Different users will record programs in different ways.  These days most people download from iTunes or download MP3s.  Below are the best Internet sites I have found providing audio drama.  The sites I list offer radio drama without charge.


I am pleased to say that there has really been an explosion in the number of sites offering free drama radio drama.  There are several that offer radio from the Golden Age, roughly 1940 to 1960, but many sites are creating their own new radio drama.

There are really two types of site. There is PC radio. These just broadcast 24 hours a day from what is usually a non-published schedule. The listener can sample it at random times or can just record an interval of time and then go back and choose what he likes.  There are also download sites where you choose a program and listen on your PC, record to tape, or download it to an mp3 player.  iTunes also offers a wide variety of audio drama.

Look for the notations  GEM:  and  NEW ENTRY: 

Please note the "Of Related Interest" sites at the end.  It is not exactly radio drama when you get readings of stories and entire novels free from the Internet, but it will be of interest to many of the same people.  Having listened to Old Time Radio for many years some of the old sources are getting repetitive.  But there is so much new media of interest I really cannot keep up.

Please let me know if you find discrepencies, particularly sites going away.  And like I say above send comments and suggested additions to mleeper@optonline.net.

And thanks for your help.


And by the way, if you are looking for a particular classic radio series or even a particular episode of a series, you very likely can find it by asking for it in Google looking under archive.org.  If you want to see episodes of the radio series "Perry Mason" you just have to give Google the string "archive.org Perry Mason".  If you want to find the radio play "Sorry, Wrong Number" you can just search on "archive.org Sorry Wrong Number".  Archive.org is a powerful resource and Google is a powerful search tool.


Contents:

PC RADIO STATIONS PLAYING CONTINUOUS OLD TIME RADIO DRAMA

FIXED COLLECTIONS FOR DOWNLOAD

WEEKLY/DAILY SOURCES FOR RADIO DRAMA DOWNLOADS

OF  RELATED INTEREST


 

PC RADIO STATIONS PLAYING CONTINUOUS OLD TIME RADIO DRAMA

The first five are much the same as each other. Yesterday USA has more original programming and longer musical interludes. That is not to my taste, but the programs are good.

-- Treasure Trove ACB Radio: ACB is the American Council for the Blind. This site was established as entertainment for the blind, but I can imagine they have a lot of other listeners as well. It has a really good selection of old time radio including some BBC science fiction. You might want to also make a small contribution to the ACB.  They have made it a little harder to get to their Treasure Trove radio channel.  When they ask you to open trove-broadband open it in iTunes.  (As I say above it is free, but you need to open it in iTunes to play it.)

   

http://acbradio.org/sites/default/files/streams/trove-broadband.m3u


-- Yesterday USA: This station associated with a broadcast museum is a good source of old time radio, but it does it own original programming much of which is not very interesting to me. There are long musical interludes, interviews, hosts talking, musical programs, etc. They do more children's programs than others above.

   

http://www.yesterdayusa.com/streams.htm

   

-- WNAR: This is a Pennsylvania AM radio site that is a lot like Treasure Trove and Yesterday USA.  It has nonstop old time radio.  At least for this one there is a schedule right on the page.  Some of the programming is religious.

   

http://www.wnar-am.com/

   


-- Crimetime Radio: This is all crime, detective, and police procedurals.  Rocky Jordan, Broadway is my Beat, etc.  24 x 7.

   

http://www.live365.com/stations/otrnow?site=device

   


-- Audio Noir: This is all crime, detective, and police procedurals.  Much like Crimtime Radio.  Both sites are free but request donations.

         

http://audionoir.com/

      

-- OTR NOW: This station offers two different streams of Old Time Radio.  One stream is general radio with standard Old Time Radio programs.  The other is Crime Radio which they say features "Old-time Radio Detectives, Cops & Robbers, Guns & Ghouls Danger & Dames!"

http://www.otrnow.com/otrnow/index.htm


-- ROK Classic Radio Network (aka Pumpkin Radio): This station offers seven categoriess of classic radio drama and comedy.  They have American Comedy, British Comedy, Crime, Drama, OTR, Science Fiction, and Westerns.


http://rokradio.com/


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WEEKLY/DAILY SOURCES FOR RADIO DRAMA DOWNLOADS

--  The Drama Pod: This is a site is mostly dramatic readings but it also records plays and makes them available free for download.  Their subject matter is in large part horror and science fiction.  It takes a little poking around to find all that is offered.

http://thedramapod.com/drupal/

-- BBC Saturday Play: 60-minute weekly plays. The BBC Saturday play tends to be light entertainment. It typically may be a comedy, a crime story, or a thriller. There are a few romance stories. BBC radio plays generally have high production values.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/arts/saturday_play.shtml

 


-- BBC Afternoon Plays (45-minute plays, five a week) This is more a mixed bag. There are love stories, comedies (some quite funny), fantasies, detective stories, historical dramas, you name it.  Never science fiction, but occasionally they do ghost stories.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/arts/afternoon_play.shtml

 

-- BBC World Service World Drama  (60-minute weekly plays). Yet another site for new plays each week.  The plays  may not  be available outside the UK.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/programmes/world_drama.shtml

 
-- The Halls of Ivy: This is a weekly comedy/drama about a likeable college president. It stars the distinguished Ronald Colman and usually stresses intellectual values.

http://classicmoviefavorites.com/colman/ivy.html

 

-- Decoder Ring Theater: This site seems to specialize in modern pastiches of  Old Time Radio.  Currently they are running a series with their hero the Red Panda (obviously patterned on the Green Hornet).  In the past they ran a radio noir hard-boiled detective series called Black Jack Justice.  The acting is a little too tongue-in-cheek for my taste, perhaps inspired by the Firesign Theater.

http://decoderring.libsyn.com/

 

-- WBAI Golden Age and Mass Backwards:  Max Schmid on WBAI does a weekly show "The Golden Age of Radio" and he also will frequently play radio drama on his other weekly show "Mass Backwards."  These shows are downloadable from the WBAI archive.  Do a search on the page for the two titles and then click on link in the right column.

http://archive.wbai.org/

GEM:

-- Imagination Theater: This is a weekly radio program of newly produced original drama. Each is a program of about 50-minutes with generally two stories. They have several series with continuing characters. They do stories with detectives like Sherlock Holmes and their own Harry Nile, a sort of soft-boiled detective in the Philip Marlowe vein but a little lighter. They also have stories with an occult detective. Then a lot of their stories are not in series. This is the most accurate pastiche of Old Time Radio currently available and is something of an institution. If you have heard all the old OTR shows, this station will have good material you have not heard before. Jim French Productions syndicate the show to local radio stations, but the weekly show is also available at their web site.  It is a little hard to find where in their site to find the program.  Go to the home page and on the right side you'll see the sidebar that says: "Show Information." Click on "Imagination Theater" then click on the "Listen now" buttons.

 

http://jimfrenchproductions.com/



 

GEM: 

-- Chatterbox Audio Theater:  This is a very good radio theater source.   Based in Memphis, TN, Chatterbox creates fully soundscaped audio works for free streaming or download. With rare exceptions, Chatterbox shows are recorded live, with manual sound effects and as little post-production editing as possible.

http://www.chatterboxtheater.org/shows

GEM:

--  Escape and Suspense: Escape and Suspense were the two best action and adventure anthology series.   This site is a treasury collection of episodes.  Notice that in the right column you have links to many more episodes.

http://www.escape-suspense.com/

 

But wait.  There's more.  Actually there is access to many more shows available.   Click on a series title anywhere on the above listings and you get a text description telling you about the series and several episodes you can click on to hear or download.  Sadly there is no way to find a complete list of the programs this site offers.


GEM: 

-- 19 Nocturne Boulevard: This is another great find.  Julie Hoverson is twice a month releasing great half-hour plays in the old time radio tradition.  The stories are fully dramatized with a touch of fun in the acting.  The stories are science fiction, horror, and suspense.  There is even a western with the continuing character The Deadeye Kid. The genres are a mixed bag, but the quality is quite high. There is also an archive of the older programs.  Julie Hoverson also has done a big collection of dramatic readings of H. P. Lovecraft stories.

http://www.19nocturneboulevard.net/Episodes.htm

 


GEM: 

-- HardSF: This site links to a very large volume of audio science fiction.  Some is a little hard to navigate in the frames version, but it does have in the upper left hand corner a link for a no frames version.  Click on the link "Free Audio SF" in the left hand column lists 49 different radio programs, each a link into shows from that program.  And there is much, much more including links for podcasts.  All programs seem to be made available in mp3 format.  You can play it directly or right-click to save to your computer and from there it can be moved to an mp3 player.  (A lot of the links lead nowhere, probably due to copyright problems.)

http://www.hardsf.org/index.htm


 

GEM: 

-- Moonlight Audio Theatre: From Canada comes this great source.  You can find here Old Time Radio and contemporary productions from production companies like the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company also.  They have Suspense, Mystery, Horror, Sci-Fi, Supernatural, Drama, Comedy, Halloween, Christmas And Special Features.   Scrolling down the page will show you some real pleasures both new and old.

http://www.moonlightaudiotheatre.ca/shows/

But going to their libsyn page allows you to choose by category.
 

http://moonlightaudio.libsyn.com/

The same people, notably David Farquhar, are producing their own radio drama with a handful of new productions at:
 

http://www.voicesinthewind.ca/productions.html



 

GEM: 

-- Atlanta Radio Theatre Company: ARTC's output is slow.  They put out a podcast monthly and then it is only about ten to fifteen minutes, but they do polished well-produced plays.  At this writing they have just finished a four-part (hence four month) adaptation of H. G. Wells' THE TIME MACHINE.  This is one of the better radio theater companies.  The drama is not presented tongue-in-cheek.

http://www.artc.org/topic/podcast/



-- Not Quite Normal: This is a new original independently-produced comedy/drama podcast.  This is one long story presented in pieces.


http://notquitenormal.net/



NEW ENTRY: 


-- The Fault Line Players: This is a new company of players who every two weeks or so do a short play--or perhaps more accurately a skit--almost always tongue-in-cheek.  They use YouTube to publish.  As of this writing not a large collection.


https://www.youtube.com/user/FLPAudio/


NEW ENTRY: 


--  It's About Time: This is the home for a a new company of players who every two weeks do a new chapter for their comic time travel story.  They started in October, 2014, to give you an idea how many chapters there are to catch up on.


http://itsabouttimetravelagency.com/category/podcast-episode/




-- Action Science Theatre:  Here is a podcast in the style of a radio play, that mixes action, science, comedy and silly voices.  


http://actionsciencetheatre.com/



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FIXED COLLECTIONS FOR DOWNLOAD

-- The Mercury Theatre on the Air: Perhaps the greatest genius of radio drama was Orson Welles. This site seems to be a complete source for everything he did on radio. This includes the famous October 30, 1938 "Panic Broadcast" based on THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, but even better is his adaptation of DRACULA.

http://www.mercurytheatre.info/

 

-- Quiet Please: Wyllis Cooper created one of the better horror series of Old Time Radio. Some episodes of Quiet Please are very good mood pieces.  A few have become classics.

http://www.quietplease.org/index.php?section=listepisodes

 

GEM:

-- The OTR Network Library: This is a terrific collection of over 12,000 Old Time Radio programs.  Not just the weaker programs either.  Things like  a long run of Lux Radio Theater.  This site is a must for OTR fans.  Really!

http://www.otr.net/

 

GEM:
-- The Internet Archive: This site is part of a very large project to save Internet material and make it constantly available.  That mission covers a lot of ground but part is that they store Old Time Radio shows, more than a thousand at this point.  It is a fascinating site to just browse to see what they do have in addition to radio shows. Like any large library it is impossible to know exactly what to look for, but you can let the search window look for specific items.  For example, search for "Lux" and you will find years of "Lux Radio Theater" with hour-long radio dramatizations of films.

http://www.archive.org/details/oldtimeradio



 

-- Radio Tales of the Strange and Fantastic:  This is not a big collection, but it has some good radio programs.  Mostly they are collected from other sites like the archive.org.  But it is nice to have the links in one place.

http://www.digital-eel.com/rtsf/

GEM:
-- RadioLovers:  Not as extensive as the Internet OTR Archive (I think, I haven't counted) but still a fairly large source of OTR sorted by series.*

http://www.radiolovers.com



GEM:

-- CBS Radio Mystery Theater: For eight years CBS revived radio drama with a story almost every night featuring a lot of horror, SF, and fantasy as well as mysteries and just plain dramas.  Background music is frequently borrowed from The Twilight Zone.  Episodes available today are far from rare, but this web site is a very convenient interface.  The episode descriptions are available other places, but I know of no place where the download links and the plots are listed together making browsing for episodes much more convenient.  There are 1399 episodes to choose from (!).  One caveat about the series: whoever wrote the science fiction episodes apparently knew very little science.  Many of the science fiction episodes are preachy and the science is really bad.  It is worthwhile to look at some of the other pages at the website, but the most useful page is:

http://www.cbsrmt.com/synopsis.html


-- One Act Audio Theatre:   This is a site that has been around for a while, but you have to dig around to find all they offer.  The site has a lot more plays that it originally appears, but you have to explore to find some of them.  I do not see any comprehensive list of all their plays.  The site is technically free, but only to inconsiderate people. You can download plays and pay what you think they are worth to you.  If it is worth nothing you are not prohibited from downloading for free.  And you can stream for free, though some plays are divided into many short chapters so you would have to keep clicking every few minutes.  It seems to range from serious dramas two hours long to tongue-in-cheek plays like "Flash Gordon."  For some of the plays you can also download scripts.

http://www.oneact.org/

http://www.oneact.org/productions.html


GEM:

-- Dumb.com:   As the site owners say, "Enjoy radio shows from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, back before television was popular. These are the vintage shows your grandparents loved, from popular comedies like Amos & Andy to westerns such as Gunsmoke, Now you can hear these shows for free online at Dumb.com."  One disadvantage is that they do not seem available for download.  (One can get an MP3 to listen to on an iPod, but you have to find the URL for the MP3. if you want to dump the source file you can then look for the string ".mp3".  Otherwise, they must be played off a computer.)  But they have a very large library and it is supposedly getting bigger.  You have to go to the link below, click on the series you want, click on the individual program you want and that page you can play directly or dump the source to find the URL of the MP3.

http://www.dumb.com/oldtimeradio/


-- Echoes from the Golden Age of Radio:   This site combines a library of radio programs with 24/7 streaming.    it is a modest resource with some nice touches.  For radio adaptations of films you can also click and see a theatrical trailer for each film.  There are some other fun extras.  The collection is not as big as some sites, but there is a lot to reward a beginner to OTR.  (I do find the use of background sound a little oppressive.  Each time you change page you have to where to turn of the sound for that page.)  In July 2013 the site manager said there were the following improvements: "1. Much much faster 2. Now hundreds of shows to listen or download 3. 67 radio adaptation of classic movies with original trailers, posters and descriptions with more to come 4. Over 600 shows on the 24/7 radio stream 5. Bios of radio stars for each general page."

http://www.echoesfromthegoldenageofradio.com/

-- Old Radio World:   This is another library of radio shows from the 1930s to the 1950s.  The shows include "The Shadow" which is not always easy to find.

http://oldradioworld.com/



 

-- Free Classic Radio Shows:  Jim Berkey offers a nice interface to access Old Time Radio, as well as classic TV and online movies.  I do not see anything that I would not expect to see on archive.org, but it may be easier to access the programs.  


http://free-classic-radio-shows.com/


NEW ENTRY:

-- Star Trek: Outpost:  Giant Gnome Production has for five years done a monthly episode of Star Trek fan fiction.  Episodes are roughly an hour in length and are of professional quality.  The episodes are straight science fiction drama, no funny voices, little tongue-in-cheek, and not enough to get in the way of the story telling.


http://giantgnome.com/our-shows/audio-drama/star-trek-outpost/


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OF  RELATED INTEREST

GEM:

-- Radio Drama Revival: Fred Greenhalgh does a weekly show (dated Thursdays) about 30-minutes to an hour in length dedicated to (mostly new) radio drama.  He will have entire productions of radio drama or he will just have programs about how radio drama is created today.  The program is always of interest and it is a good place to learn not just of Greenhaigh's own productions but also of other productions companies around the country with a copious collection of links.  His site also offers archives of programs going back to January of 2007.  Generally Greenhalgh will give an introduction talking about audio drama news and then goes to an audio-play.   The show seems to be a real labor of love.

http://www.radiodramarevival.com/

GEM:

-- RadioGOLDINdex: This is not a source for Old Time Radio, but it has very useful episode guides for Old Time Radio series.   It is a valuable reference.

http://radiogoldindex.com/frame1.html

 

-- Simply Scripts: A site with scripts and transcripts of OTR programs*

http://www.simplyscripts.com/radio.html

 

 

GEM:

-- LibriVox Audio: This is not drama but  books read by human readers (as opposed to some sites that have computer voices).  There are over 1600 books in public domain available.  Topics include the classics, science fiction, fantasy, history, etc.

http://www.archive.org/details/librivoxaudio

http://librivox.org/

 


-- Podiobooks: This is a lot like LibriVox.  It is downloadable readings of whole books or shorter pieces, fiction and nonfiction, read by non-professionals.  They also do have an Audiodrama category.

http://www.podiobooks.com/



-- Insomnia Radio: You either love Jean Shepherd or you don't.  He has a lot of fans in the the greater New York area.  Also some people discovered him through the film A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983).  Whenever you crave a shot of Shep, he is here 24x7.
   

http://insomniatheater.com/


GEM:

-- Kevin's OTR Links: Kevin Williams is another fan and hobbyist who collects and publicizes Old Time Radio sites.  He has a site that is a lot like this one.  Now that you have explored this site you can continue to find new sources for radio drama at his site.

   

http://kevinsotrlinks.6te.net/

GEM:

-- The Audio Drama Directory: BINGO! This is a terrific source for finding new audio drama mostly free.  It does not have audio drama of its own, but it has links to original drama by category.  Choose a category and take a link to the page.  Then choose a program and take the link to the official site.
   

http://theaudiodramadirectory.com/

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