Escape is one of radio's most respected adventure shows. It lasted
seven years and changed time slots an amazing eighteen times throughout
its airing, and often without notice. This programme worked on an
extremely small budget and had no lasting commercial backing...yet
despite this handicap the series came up with some of the most memorable
radio stories of the era. The distinctive deep voice that opened
the show was actually three different people over the years: William
Conrad, Paul Frees and Lou Krugman. This programme started out as
a summer replacement for Suspense, a show that had the financial
clout, the big names and the big network promotions. Furthermore,
whereas Suspense spent a lot of its time on commercials and chat
between the host and guest stars, Escape invested its airtime primarily
in the story. Lastly for Suspense the themes were usually centred
on crime and mysteries, whereas Escape looked more towards the supernatural,
horror and action/adventure.
ESCAPE opened with the gripping voice of William Conrad booming
out over the airwaves: "Tired of the everyday grind?
Ever dream of a life of romantic adventure? Want to
get away from it all? We offer you - ESCAPE!". Moussorgsky's
"Night on Bald Mountain", the show's theme, assisted Conrad
in creating the right opening atmosphere. (The actual series of
questions used in the opening varied from week to week, frequently
to match the goings-on of the times.)
The show featured spine-tingling tales from such masters as Joseph
Conrad, Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allen Poe. It was produced
by William N. Robeson, and featured many seasoned radio actors.
ESCAPE was heard on CBS from July 1947 to September 1954. There
were two pilot shows before it's first run. The first pilot
was OUT OF THIS WORLD: "Dead of Night" on February 28,
1947. This show was repeated as ESCAPE: "Dead of Night"
on March 21.
Unlike the other CBS adventure series, SUSPENSE, which ran from
June 1942 to September 1962 almost without interruption, ESCAPE
seemed to have a rough life. It was frequently moved to different
days through out it's run. There were even a couple of long
gaps where ESCAPE left the air, for example, from August 30, 1951
to October 12, 1952.