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This story was published in Radio Recall, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club, published six times per year.

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by Stewart Wright © 2012
(From Radio Recall, August 2012)

Pursuit attracted some of Hollywood's best radio script writers and as would be expected, the scripts were generally quite well-written. Through 01/06/1950 the script writing was done by Robert L. Richards, Morton Fine and David Friedkin, John and Gwen Bagni, Louis Vittes, E. Jack Neuman, and Les Crutchfield. From 01/13/1950 through 07/22/1950 the team of Gil Doud and Antony Ellis co-wrote the scripts. Starting with the 1951 Summer replacement run through the end of the series, the Pursuit primary writer was Antony Ellis: Gil Doud co-authored one reused script.

A bit of trivia regarding scripts. During this period, when CBS purchased a script, the network usually retained the broadcast rights for three years and could reuse the script on the original or on another series. When a script was reused, the writer received additional compensation that was less than what he or she received tor the Initial use. Several of the Pursuit scripts contained additional Network documentation that provides some Interesting information on what CBS paid for the scripts. As previously mentioned, the Richards adaptation of "You Take Ballistics" was originally used in 1947 on Suspense. For the 10/27/1949 reuse, the adaptor was paid $175.00. During the 1949-50 portion of the run of the series, the going rate of compensation for an original script was usually $450.00.

Music, Announcers. and Sound Effects

From 10/27/1949 through 07/22/1950 an orchestra was used with Leith Stevens, Martin Skiles and others doing the music arrangements. From 07/10/1951 through the end of the series, an organ and piano, played by Eddie Dunstedter, was used in place of an orchestra.

Larry Thor and Bob LeMond and others did the announcing chores during the 1949-50 runs. Bob Stevenson took over as the announcer with the 07/17/1951 broadcast.

Clark Casey and Berne Surrey were the primary sound effects artists during Pursuit's first season. During the remainder of the series run, a variety of CBS sound effects artists including Gus Bayz, Ralph Cummings. Ross Murray, Gene Twombly, and others did the honors.


During its first season on the air 10/27/1949 - 05/02/1950, Pursuit bounced around the CBS late evening programming schedule:

four weeks on Thursdays at 10:30 PM;
followed by seven weeks on Fridays at 10:00 PM;
next. three weeks on Tuesdays at 10:00 PM;
and finally, eleven weeks on Tuesday at 10:30 PM.
(All times listed in this article are for the Eastern Time Zone.)

Forits next two stints on the CBS airwaves, Pursuit was a summer replacement show. It aired for The Gene Autry Show from 07/01/1950 through 07/22/1950 In the Saturday 8:00 PM slot. The next summer run of Pursuit replaced Life With Luigi from 07/10/1951 through 08/21/1951 at 9:00 PM on Tuesdays.

During it's only extended scheduling in a single time slot, the 1951·52 season. 09/18/1951 - 03/25/1952, Pursuit often faced formidable competition in its Tuesday 9:30 PM time slot such as Fibber McGee and Molly on NBC and Mysterious Traveler on Mutual.

During most of its run, Pursuit aired 3 hours earlier on the West Coast. The exception was during the July, 1950 summer replacement run when it aired at 7 :30 PM in the Pacific Time Zone.

Episodes In Circulation

Relatively few episodes of this fine series are in circulation; only 19 of the 64 episodes and the audition show for The Hunters. Four episodes starring Ted de Corsla and eleven starring Ben Wright survive. The four July, 1950 summer replacement shows starring John Dehner also survive. The show starring Herb Butterlield is not known to be in circulation. One can only hope that additional episodes will find their way into circulation.


While Pursuit started out as a sustaining (non-sponsored) series, it acquired sponsors for much of its run. During its first season on the CBS airwaves, Pursuit was mainly a sustaining series with three shows, 01/06/1950, 01/13/1950, and 04/18/950, sponsored by Ford. For both its stints as a summer replacement series, the series was sponsored by Wrigley's Gum. The Sterling Drug Company was Pursuit's sponsor during its 1951- 1952 season on CBS: 09/18/1951 - 03/25/1952. An extensive variety of the company's products were advertised: Haley's M-O, Dr Lyons Tooth Powder, lronized Yeast, Molle Shave Cream, Double Danderine Shampoo, and Energine Cleaning Fluid.

The Growing Power of the Small Screen

Sterling Drug cancelled its sponsorship of Pursuit effective with the March 25, 1952 broadcast. Executives at CBS decided to cancel the series rather than have it continue as a sustaining program. Crime-related shows had reached a saturation level on radio and Pursuit joined once highly popular series such as The Adventures Of Sam Spade and The Adventures Of Philip Marlowe in being cancelled.

The beginning of the end for network radio programming was on the horizon. The networks were increasingly less likely to cany sustaining radio programs for any period of time unless those series had high ratings or were perceived to have a prestige value.

Television, the next "big thing" in American entertainment, was ready to take off. There was plenty of money to be made by the networks in getting sponsors to purchase air time for programming on the small screen. Ironically, it was money the networks made from radio that funded their initial efforts in television. In a little more than a decade most network radio programming, other than news and sports, would be almost completely gone from the airwaves.


A broadcast log for Pursuit compiled and maintained by the article author is available on the Web at:
This on-line log contains much additional information about the series including broadcast date, title, and a short plot line summary of each episode. All episode titles and broadcast dates and times in this log are taken directly from the CBS scripts and documents. Broadcast dates and times were verified using the 1949 - 1952 Radio listings from the New York Times, and other newspapers. Newspaper articles on schedule changes, proposed and actually implemented, were also consulted.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: If any MWOTRC members do not have access to the Internet and request a hard copy of the Pursuit log, just send me their address and I will print and mail them a copy.


Pursuit Scripts and other CBS documents pertaining to the series from the KNX Collection, American Radio Archives, Grant R. Brimhall Ubrary Thousand Oaks, CA
1949-52 Radio Program listings from the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and other newspapers.

1949-52 Articles from various newspapers.

Various Radio interviews with William N. Robson and Elliott Lewis.

2002 correspondence with Jim Cox and Arlene Osborne.

Hubin, Allen J., CRIME FICTION III: A Comprehensive Bibliography, 1749-1995. Oakland, CA, Locus Press, 1999.