A detective tries to save a reporter’s life

The long-running “Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar” series put the Hartford-based insurance investigator on the case of a newspaper reporter friend in a 1956 broadcast. Called “The Big Scoop Matter,” it has a couple of common newspaper-drama themes: a reporter with a failed marriage, and a risky news assignment that puts his life in danger.

Or is the real threat to his life the $100,000 insurance policy payable to his estranged wife?

Dollar, “the man with the action-packed expense account,” goes to New York to offer his services as a bodyguard after hearing from the insurance company that his old friend has been beaten up once and that someone tried to run him down. He finds his friend in a bar, another frequent newspaper-drama scene, but the friend refuses to take on a bodyguard because he might scare away informants.

“It’s hot and big, real big,” reporter Art Wesley says of his story, “a national gambling syndicate and run by a guy here in New York.”

Wesley says his “real insurance” is a safe deposit box holding the syndicate boss’s name until he gets his last facts in order and can expose the crook in print. Later, he calls Dollar to announce a breakthrough.

“Tonight could be the jackpot… I can take care of myself,” are his last words.

I don’t know if Art Wesley appeared in any earlier Johnny Dollar episodes. The Internet Archive’s collection from the Old Time Radio Researchers’ Group has scores of episodes available for download, but “The Big Scoop Matter” is the only one I’ve heard with a reporter. The series ran for 13 years and was one of the last radio dramas to sink beneath the waves of television. It kept going until 1962 and is one of the series I remember listening to as a kid. Coincidentally, years later I wound up working as a reporter in Hartford.

(I never wound up with a high-powered insurance investigator as a friend — or a $100,000 insurance policy — and I generally stayed away from dangerous stories.)

About Bob Stepno

mild-mannered reporter who found computers & the Web in grad school in the 1980s (Wesleyan) and '90s (UNC); taught journalism, media studies, Web production; retired to write, make music, photograph sunsets & walks in the woods.
This entry was posted in 1950s, crime, detectives, reporters. Bookmark the permalink.

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