Column: Summer Screams: (The New) Suspense


Suspense is a modern-day revival of the immensely popular old radio show that ran from 1942 to 1962. It first came out last fall via Blue Hours Productions. The company also does an hour-long tongue-in-cheek detective radio series, Mysteries Most Macabre about a Nick-and-Nora-style detecting couple, and has an upcoming Mythos web-TV series, 9 Lives, about an exotic dancer who must save the world from Cthulhu. You might say the folks behind this site have a thing for Lovecraft.

The format is that of a 30-minute radio play, so you have actors playing out the story rather than narrating it. The original show had a wide range of suspense-related genres. This revival is definitely more into the horror.

By now, Suspense is up to 15 episodes aired, with two more available to buy on its website. It’s an interesting experiment, in that it is available both on satellite (SiriusXM) and a small, but expanding, group of AM and FM stations in North America, as well as online nostalgia station KSAV. Many of the newer radio drama shows (or reruns of the old shows) are broadcast online, only. Suspense is an actual new terrestrial radio show.

The new Suspense uses the old music and many classic stories, but employs new scripts and actors. Some of these actors are surprisingly well-known. Highlander fans, for example, will recognize Elizabeth Gracen, who appears in #8, “An Ungentle Wager.” Another actress, Adrienne Wilkinson, played Livia/Eve in Xena: Warrior Princess. And frequent performer in the episodes, Daamen Krall, has many voice credits going back to the 80s.

The series also heavily favors our own H.P. Lovecraft and his circle of Mythos friends for source material. So, it not only started off with a Lovecraft tale (“Cool Air”), but also continued with some Mythos tales by acolytes Clark Ashton Smith (“The Return of the Sorcerer”) and Frank Belknap Long (“The Hounds of Tindalos”). It even included a sword and sorcery tale by Lovecraft crony Robert E. Howard (“The Fire of Asshurbanipal”). How they got the rights to that one, I do not know. Rights to Howard’s tales are tied up in more knots than Cthulhu’s tentacle dreads.

These episodes (unless you want to listen to them on the radio – satellite, terrestrial, or online) are funded by a charge of $1.99 per episode via PayPal. I have to say all of the descriptions sound delicious, so it’s hard to choose. Considering the expense of production, though, you could always work your way through them all and help keep this happy experiment going.