The Big Story (radio and TV series)

The Big Story is an American radio and television crime drama which dramatized the true stories of real-life newspaper reporters. The only continuing character was the narrator, Bob Sloane.


The Big Story
GenreCrime drama
Running time30 minutes
Country of originUnited States
StarringBob Sloane
AnnouncerErnest Chappell
Written byGail Ingram
Arnold Perl
Max Ehrlich
Directed byTom Vietor
Harry Ingram
Produced byBernard J. Prockter
Original releaseApril 2, 1947 (1947-04-02) – March 23, 1955 (1955-03-23)
Opening themeEin Heldenleben

Sponsored by Pall Mall cigarettes, the program began on NBC Radio on April 2, 1947. With Lucky Strike cigarettes sponsoring the last two seasons, it was broadcast until March 23, 1955.[1]

The radio series was top rated, rivaling Bing Crosby's Philco Radio Time.[2]

Produced by Barnard J. Prockter, the shows were scripted by Gail Ingram, Arnold Pearl and Max Ehrlich. Tom Vietor and Harry Ingram directed the series.[1] Gail and Harry Ingram were husband and wife.[3] The theme was taken from Ein Heldenleben ("A Hero's Life"), a tone poem by Richard Strauss.[1]

Prockter was inspired to create the program after hearing about a man who was freed from a life sentence in jail by the work of two newspaper reporters in Chicago. Most of the stories in the show dealt with stories about closed cases.[4] Ross Eaman, in his book, Historical Dictionary of Journalism, wrote that the program was "originally intended to honor reporters ignored by Pulitzer committees ...."[5] Jim Cox also cited that plan in his book, Radio Crime Fighters: More Than 300 Programs from the Golden Age.[6]

Each week the program recognized the reporter who wrote the story on which that episode was based and the newspaper in which the story appeared. The reporter received $500, was interviewed on the air and was acknowledged in the introduction, as in this example:

Pall Mall, famous big cigarette, presents The Big Story, another in a thrilling series based on true experiences of newspaper reporters. Tonight, to Russ Wilson of the Des Moines Tribune goes the Pall Mall award for The Big Story. Now, the authentic and exciting story of "The Case of the Ambitious Hobo."[7]


The Big Story
Created byPaul H Hedrick
Directed byStuart Rosenberg
David Lowell Rich
Presented byBurgess Meredith
Norman Rose
Ben Grauer
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons9
No. of episodes349
ProducerBernard J. Prockter
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time24–25 minutes
Production companyPyramid Productions
DistributorOfficial Films
Original networkNBC (1949–1957)
Syndication (1957–1958)
Picture formatBlack-and-white
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseSeptember 16, 1949 (1949-09-16) –
1958 (1958)

The radio series was adapted for television where it debuted on NBC on September 16, 1949. The series continued to air on NBC until June 28, 1957, after which it appeared in syndication until 1958. The half-hour program was hosted by Robert Sloane, Norman Rose, Ben Grauer, and, finally, Burgess Meredith.[8]

Guest stars included:

Among the episodes is "Harold Faller of the Huntington Advertiser of West Virginia" (January 19, 1951), starring Francis De Sales in his first screen appearance as newspaperman Harold Faller of Huntington, West Virginia.[9]

The theme music was two of the main themes from the tone poem Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life) by the German composer Richard Strauss. The series was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in 1953.

The series finished at #25 in the Nielsen ratings for the 1950–1951 season, #23 for 1952-1953 and #29 for 1953–1954.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (Revised ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp. 87-88. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. Retrieved 2019-10-05. The Big Story, true crime.
  2. ^ Olson, James Stuart (2000). Historical Dictionary of the 1950s. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 29. ISBN 9780313306198. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  3. ^ "Main Street" (PDF). Radio Daily. January 7, 1948. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 November 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  4. ^ Daniel, Douglass K. (1996). Lou Grant: The Making of TV's Top Newspaper Drama. Syracuse University Press. p. 3. ISBN 9780815603634. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  5. ^ Eaman, Ross (2009). Historical Dictionary of Journalism. Scarecrow Press. p. 142. ISBN 9780810862890. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  6. ^ Cox, Jim (2002). Radio Crime Fighters: More Than 300 Programs from the Golden Age. McFarland. p. 48. ISBN 9781476612270. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  7. ^ Terrace, Vincent (1999). Radio Programs, 1924-1984: A Catalog of More Than 1800 Shows. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-4513-4. P.40.
  8. ^ Alex McNeil, Total Television, New York: Penguin Books, 1996, 4th ed., p. 96
  9. ^ "Francis De Sale". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved March 15, 2009.
  10. ^ " TV Ratings".
  • Sies, Luther F. Encyclopedia of American Radio 1920-1960. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2000. ISBN 0-7864-0452-3
  • Terrace, Vincent (1981). The Radio's Golden Years: Encyclopedia of Radio Programs, 1930-1960. A. S. Barnes.

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