Although I was very much familiar with Gunsmoke the TV series throughout my childhood—the program ran on WCHS-TV like tap water, and during my second year at Marshall University, WVAH-TV made it “Must See TV” for my fellow dormmates on weeknights—I never heard a broadcast of the radio Gunsmoke until that same sophomore Marshall year. The college library had a few old-time radio shows on reel-to-reel, and I checked out one that had several Gunsmoke shows (and if memory serves, some Frontier Gentleman and Have Gun – Will Travel episodes as well), taking it over to “The Mighty Mule” (campus radio station) for a listen in one of the production booths. One tune-in to “The Executioner” (04/15/56) was all it took; I immediately fell in love, and Gunsmoke remains to this day my favorite radio drama.
I know of people on Facebook who practice the Gunsmoke religion referenced by radio historian John Dunning in his entry on the show in his reference On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio: “That radio fans considered the TV show a sham, and its players impostors, should surprise no one. That the TV show was not a sham was due in no small part to the continued strength of [John] Meston’s scripts.” You can call me a heretic if necessary…but I enjoy listening to and watching both versions. Still, if I’d have to sacrifice one of them for the rest of my life there’d be no contest: the radio show is without question the superior version.
In my typically long-winded fashion, I’ve written all this because some time back, I contributed the liner notes booklet to Around Dodge City, one of Radio Spirits’ Gunsmoke releases. I have a spare copy to give away here on the blog, and before I’m crushed in the stampede allow me to elucidate on how you can be the lucky winner in the latest Thrilling Days of Yesteryear giveaway with a little contest ruleage:
1) Send an e-mail with “Around Dodge City” in the subject header to igsjrotr(at)gmail(dot)com. You have until 11:59pm EDT on July 13, 2019 (next Saturday) to enter, and while I realize folks are always wary about revealing too much about themselves online just leave me your name and where you hang your hat (city and state). That way, if you are The Chosen One I’ll be able to identify you on the blog while waiting for you to send me the exclusive snail-mail details (that I will not share with anyone regardless of how much money I am offered).
2) The contest is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. (I wish I could open this up a little more, but I haven’t gone through the new stuff to sell on eBay yet…so I have to keep an eye on the postage costs.)
3) If you’ve been a previous winner in a TDOY giveaway, please consider waiting thirty days before entering another so that someone without your phenomenal streak of good fortune gets a chance to win some swag. Manners, you know.
4) I will choose a winner (via the Random Number Generator at Random.org) the morning of July 14 and inform the lucky individual via e-mail shortly thereafter. I haven’t always performed the task of mailing out the prize in a timely manner, and for that I apologize; I’m generally having to haul a bunch of stuff down to USPS on Friday mornings and to save myself an extra trip I’ll put the TDOY swag to be mailed with the eBay packages.
Regardless of which side you’re on in the radio/TV Gunsmoke debate (or, if you’re like me, you’re agnostic about the whole thing) Around Dodge City would make a wonderful gift for the old-time radio fan in your family…though I can imagine a scenario where I wind up keeping it for my very own and getting the gift recipient something else (“Here’s a pecan log from Stuckey’s!”). As always, you cannot win if you do not enter…and remember: Thrilling Days of Yesteryear is the phrase that pays!