The Haunting Hour — “Homicide House”

“No… No… stay where you are. Do not break the stillness of this moment. For this is a time of mystery. A time when imagination is free, and moves forward swiftly, silently…. This is — The Haunting Hour!”

The Haunting Hour (originally transcribed 1944-45) aired “Homicide House” on June 30, 1945 (the date provided by one resource, rightly or wrongly). Only 52 episodes were produced, of which it is estimated 41 have survived.  Frustrated by not being able to pin down a definite date for this episode, I turned to Old Time Radio historian and friend of this weekly OTR feature Karl Schadow for help. Karl explains:

“As to dates and program numbers, The Haunting Hour was a transcribed, syndicated program which was available to stations and sponsors for some 15 years. There are no official broadcast dates for these episodes. I realize that some logs and vendors have to put dates on their products, but this may cause confusion down the road if an episode ends up with two different dates. My suggestion is that you state it was first broadcast in 1945 and could still be heard on various markets into the early 1960s.” …  “Moreover, there were no official seasons of The Haunting Hour. Not all of the 52 episodes have extant audio.”

I would like to thank Karl for his help and point those interested to the Radio Spirits CD The Haunting Hour, for which he provided the excellent background and history of the show for its Program Guide (Linked CD top left, unfortunately no long available).

(Top Right: Haunted Baker Hotel, Mineral Wells, TX. Known for its history of murder and suicide. Linked.)

“Homicide House” begins innocently enough with a New York newspaper editor assigning a young man and woman team of reporters to gather background information on an old abandoned mansion, boarded up and vacant for 50 years, in connection with the death of its rich, reclusive owner recently murdered in Florida. The last of his line, the old recluse follows suit by dying from a violent act and the newspaper editor wants his reporters to dig up everything they can on the long, unbroken string of violent deaths the family has borne, and anything else they can discover of this once prominent New York family, now all deceased. The visit to their still standing but soon to be demolished mansion is the first step in the reporters’ investigation and will hopefully provide the background color their editor desires. Little do the young reporters know what they will soon discover–beyond a spider-webbed cellar and strange noises–for it will seem that time itself has come to a halt and dark truths revealed the longer they find themselves in the embrace of the “Homicide House.”

Play Time: 25:00

{“Homicide House” aired on a Saturday night. Luckily, the neighborhood gang’s nearby newsstand was open on Sunday, so after church they changed clothes and made haste to their home away from home to seek more stories of dark deeds and foul murder. Black Mask (1920-54) was a perennial favorite, publishing many of the most prestigious detective authors in the field for decades. It was a bi-monthly in 1945. Speed Detective (1934-47) began its publishing life as Spicy Detective, its fiction fast-paced fare with sexual overtones of one kind or another. Market forces and social pressure eventually forced it to forego this formula and beginning with the January 1943 issue it changed its name to Speed Detective and dropped the sexual element pervading almost every story. It was a bi-monthly in 1945. Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine (1915-49) holds the distinction of being the first magazine devoted solely to detective fiction. Not only was it a pioneer, helping to form and shape the genre by giving it a direction due to the stories its editors chose to publish, it found an audience appreciative and large enough to support its existence for almost 35 years. Quite an accomplishment. It was a monthly in 1945.}

[Left: Black Mask, May 1945 – Center: Speed Detective, June 1945 – Right: S&S Detective Story, June 1945]


To view the entire list of weekly Old Time Radio episodes at Tangent Online, click here.