CBS Radio Mystery Theater was a dramatic series that aired nightly on the CBS Radio Network from January 6, 1974 through December 31, 1982. There were 1399 programs and counting repeats, the program was aired 2969 times.
If you follow the links at the bottom of the page you'll find quite a few fan sites where people tell their personal stories about becoming a fan of the program. Most of them are similar - people listening before bedtime, at work, or while driving in their cars and being captivated by the program.
I was a teenager growing up in Kansas in the 1970's and listened to the program each night on AM radio stations like KFH in Wichita and clear channel KMOX in St. Louis. The fading in and out of the signal added to the mystique. I would occasionally try to record some of the programs with my rudimentary equipment. A cheap cassette player with a condenser microphone laying next to the speaker of an old tube-type radio didn't produce a quality recording.
Like a lot of other listeners, I never thought much about the program after it went off the air and I grew up and got interested in other things. I have worked in commercial radio broadcasting all of my adult life and I think CBS Radio Mystery Theater helped spark that initial interest in radio. Just before Halloween a couple of years ago I was listening to some CD's looking for sound effects for a seasonal commercial I was producing and I heard a creaking door sound very similar to the CBS Radio Mystery Theater creaking door. That quickly brought thoughts of the program into my mind. I had not thought of it for years. Although I have participated on the Internet for a number of years, I had never thought of searching for information on the program. So, with the thought in mind of perhaps finding an mp3 of a program I started searching.
At that time, I found only a few web sites dealing with the program and most were put on by people who collect a lot of different old time radio programs and they just had lists of CBSRMT mp3 files they had or ones they were looking for - not a lot of fun stuff for the program fan. There were a few fan sites dedicated to CBSRMT so I decided to start a page also. Since that time several other pages have appeared and I try to keep a current list of links to all of the other relevant sites that I am aware of. I receive at least one or two e-mail messages every week from people having the same experience and are very surprised when they find this and other CBSRMT web sites. (I really enjoy those messages so keep them coming - or better yet, post in the forums!)
As I mentioned earlier, I had recorded quite a few programs on cassette tapes in the 1970's and early 1980's but they were not quality recordings as I did not have good equipment. Also, there was significant fading and static due to poor reception and some content was lost when the tape had to be ejected and turned over. So, to be able to listen again I knew I would have to find some good quality mp3 files of the program. I was quite surprised when I searched using the file sharing application that I was using at the time and got quite a few results. I started downloading (on my slow dial-up connection) and within a couple of weeks I had over 20 programs. This was quite exciting and I downloaded everything I could find through several file sharing applications that I used at the time. When I could not find anything using one of them I would try another. Fortunately, there is now a much easier and more reliable way to download the programs (see the Streamload information just below) so you can pretty much forget about using file sharing applications.
Since beginning this process, I have collected all of the programs in mp3 format. I had downloaded over 800 programs from various sources (on dial-up!) and was fortunate to receive CD's in the mail from other people who contacted me through this site to complete the collection.
NOTE: I am no longer sharing programs using file sharing applications. The best way that I know of to transfer programs is through Streamload. This is a great system. Simply go to their web site and set up an account. Then, post your user ID in the forums and I will transfer programs to your account.
Just click the banner to set up an account.
CBSRMT programs, including commercials, were an hour long on the air. Most mp3 files have been edited to remove the commercials and the length is 40 to 45 minutes - although, some contain the entire program complete with commercials and a newscast at the end or whatever programming surrounded the program. This can be quite interesting listening as well and I consider that to be a bonus. The average file is mono (stereo is not needed, nor is 44.1 kHz sampling) and about 10 megabytes. Some smaller files are around 8 megabytes and the larger ones are around 13 megs. If you have broadband Internet access you can download a lot of programs very quickly. If you are on dial-up you can expect a program every 30 to 45 minutes. (At least you can download as quickly as you can listen.)
To listen to these files I suggest The Real One Player (there is a free version if you look hard enough), Winamp (also a free downloadable utility) or the Windows Media Player. You can also use digital audio editing programs such as Sound Forge or Cool Edit to clean up these files and convert them to other audio formats. I use these programs to divide the program segments into separate files, clean up the audio if needed, and save them as .wav files for burning regular audio CD's. If the program had commercial content I leave that in and if there were newscasts or other surrounding programming, I include that at the end of the program as separate tracks.
I am willing to share these programs free of charge and I ask for nothing in return. Feel free to ask for programs in the forum.
http://www.cbsrmt.org This was a great site that was sometimes there and sometimes not. All of the programs could be downloaded (apparently) but I never had a successful download of over 50% on any program before it gave out. When last checked, this URL was a redirect to a domain parking service - so don't hold your breath. Perhaps it will return someday.
http://www.snowmedia.com/cbsrmt/ This is a great looking site. Unfortunately, the forums that were hosted at this site ceased working properly in June 2002 and have not been repaired when last checked. Make sure and check it out though.
Contact me to request a link! If you want to request a link here, or if you want to report a non-working link, please contact me by sending me (Charlie) a private message in the forums. (The e-mail link has been removed due to the hundreds of spam e-mail messages received every day.) I will not knowingly link to a site that sells CBS Radio Mystery Theater programs. There are a number of OTR traders and collectors that think that they have the right to sell the program on the Internet. There is a big difference between giving a friendly trader a $5 bill to cover the cost of a CD and postage and a person that thinks that because they have acquired a great number of programs that they have the right to profit from it. This is not true and I urge you to not give these hucksters your money!
Non-related web sites:
http://www.reelradio.com If you were a radio listener during the CBSRMT years, you probably listened to top-40 radio as well. Here's a great site to listen to actual radio airchecks from those years!