How do you know so much, paperboy?

“How do you know so much, paperboy?” — Detective Danny Clover to reporter Jed Stacy.

“Broadway is My Beat” was a mystery series broadcast from February 1949 to August 1954 by the same CBS network that brought audiences Crime Photographer. This time, the “beat” in question is a police beat, not the newspaper kind, but I’m skimming through the episodes for stories where the police detective crosses paths with journalists.

Here’s the first. The style is “radio noir” or “radio pulp fiction,” with prose so purple it borders on self-parody, about the street that Detective Danny Clover considers “the gaudiest, most violent, the lonesomest mile in the world.”

In this Aug. 11, 1949, episode Larry Thor played the detective as a tough-guy cop didn’t have a high opinion of newspaperman Jed Stacy, calling him a “scandal reporter for a rag that reports scandals.”

The Jane Darnell Murder Case” is a serial killer investigation that begins with an anonymous tip to the reporter that a woman by that name will be murdered that night. Reporter Stacy has the article all written before he invites his friend Clover to dinner and finally gives him the murderer’s note. While they are still at the table, he gets a call that the woman’s body has been found.

“Why didn’t you give me this before?” Clover says. “You’d play nursemaid to a murder for a beat, wouldn’t you, Jed? You’re gettin’ too large, kid; too large.”

Stacy makes no apologies.

Clover sounds angry, but Stacy isn’t about to be reformed. His large-living includes fancy cars and restaurants, but he does stay on top of everything — with a hint of the flash of New York’s original tell-all Broadway columnist, Walter Winchell.

Soon, the murderer is making phone calls to both Clover and Stacy. The next victim will be even harder to find, with the name “Mary Smith.” Eventually, not to spoil the suspense, she turns up with an icepick in her throat and a note announcing another victim to come.

That one is where Clover gets ahead of Stacy — even threatens him not to publish a tip about a third potential victim. However, the program’s writers didn’t pursue the press-police media relations theme any further. Casey, Crime Photographer, Randy Stone on Night Beat, and the real-life reporters on the series The Big Story seem to be even more cooperative with police.  Despite their conflicts, this detective and reporter pair seem to have a continuing — if antagonistic — relationship worthy of following in other episodes. However, so far I haven’t found any.

Classic radio collector J. David Goldin’s Broadway is My Beat RadioGoldindex entry has a short summary on each of 200 episodes, and identifies Morton Fine and David Friedkin as writers for the series. They are also credited at the end of the program. Goldin’s summary for this episode is the only one with the words “newspaper,” “reporter,” “columnist,” “editor,” “correspondent,” “journalist” or “tabloid” — my first search to track down portrayals of journalists for further research. But I’ll listen to more episodes, just in case — and if you enjoy the series and run across any newsmen or women, add a comment here.

The Old Time Radio Researcher’s Group has collected a half-dozen CDs of MP3 files for the series, with 169 stories on its single-episodes player/download page at the Internet Archive. I haven’t cross-referenced them to Goldin’s list, which includes some rebroadcasts of the CBS series by Armed Forces Radio.

(Note: Like too many website entry and MP3-collection filenames, the OTRRG copy of this episode has a misspelling — the name clearly voiced as “Darnell” in the program is entered as “Darwell.”)

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 1940s, detectives, tabloids. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to How do you know so much, paperboy?

  1. Glenna Geiger says:

    Very cool. My Dad’s first job in the news business was as a police reporter for the North American newspaper in Philadelphia in the 1920s.

    Sent from my iPad

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