This Week’s Radio Drama: Bob Bailey Ends Run as ‘Johnny Dollar’ Sunday Night

Bob Bailey played Johnny Dollar for five years on CBS radio, ending Nov. 27, 1960.

The end of November 1960, saw a great shift in radio drama at CBS—one that would take the most popular “Johnny Dollar” star off the air.

Sunday night, 97.9 WHAV FM airs Bob Bailey’s last appearance as the lead of “Yours Truly Johnny Dollar.” Following the Nov. 27, 1960 episode, CBS ended radio drama from its famous Columbia Square studios in Hollywood. For five years, Bailey portrayed “the man with the action-packed expense account, America’s fabulous freelance insurance investigator." He ended his role without even a goodbye in “The Empty Threat Matter.”

In a sense, those goodbyes took place during a September 1960 episode, “Five Down Matter,” where a reunion was staged with such longtime supporting actresses and actors Virginia Gregg, Larry Dobkin, G. Stanley Jones, Harry Bartell, Vic Perrin, John Dehner, Howard MacNear, Marvin Miller, Forrest Lewis and Herb Vigran.

Bob Readick began as a child actor on “Let’s Pretend.”

Unlike most other remaining dramas on CBS radio, “Yours Truly Johnny Dollar,” would stay on the air, but from CBS’ New York studios. Bailey was unwilling to relocate and the role was given to Robert “Bob” Readick. You’ll hear his first appearance in the episode, “The Earned Income Matter,” next Sunday, July 14, over WHAV.

The last major radio network regularly airing radio plays, CBS pulled the plug that November on daily serials such as “The Couple Next Door,” “Ma Perkins,” “Right to Happiness,” “Young Dr. Malone” and “The Second Mrs. Burton.” Other shows axed were “Whispering Streets,” “Amos and Andy Music Hall” and “Have Gun Will Travel.” The New York Times, in an article Aug. 11, 1960, suggested more than 50 radio actors, directors, writers and producers would lose their jobs.

Besides Readick taking the lead, other changes at the New York-based version of “Yours Truly Johnny Dollar” included Bruno Zirato Jr. taking over as series director and Art Hanna replacing John Wall as announcer. Jack Johnstone would continue writing scripts, but lost his titles as producer and director.

“The Empty Threat Matter” airs at 10 p.m., Sunday night, with an encore performance three hours later at 1 a.m. over WHAV.

Saturday, July 6

Gunsmoke: “Flashback,” 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.

Sunday

Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: “Empty Threat Matter,” last show with Bob Bailey, 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.

Monday

Suspense: “Zero Hour,” 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.

Tuesday

Dimension X: “Nightfall,” 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.

Wednesday

Great Gildersleeve: Gildy Gets Fired, 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.

Thursday

Our Miss Brooks: Summer Vacation, 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.

Friday

Couple Next Door: Unwanted Guests, 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.

Saturday, July 13

Gunsmoke: “Dirt,” 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.

Sunday

Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: “Earned Income Matter,” first show featuring Bob Readick as Johnny Dollar, 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.

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