|Available as MP3s from Amazon - CHANDU, THE MAGICIAN.|
Among the uncountable blessings of technology is preservation. I knew of Chandu, most likely through films based on the radio serials. Though they, too, were produced during the 1930s it is not a stretch to imagine them turning up as television sought programming to fill its channels and airtime. In the early 1970s, the radio show reappeared on Sunday afternoons on KPPC in Pasadena. Exotic, foreign, mysterious, it returned me to childhood as it may or may not have been. It all felt familiar. What I know is the episodes were compelling enough to make me want to be home next to my radio at a time I would likely have been elsewhere. My downstairs neighbors were also fans. It was not the same, listening in a moving car. One wished to pay attention.
When I was ill as a child, home from school, I got to have a radio in the room my younger sister and I shared and listened to programs that began with Don McNeill's Breakfast Club and ran through the early afternoon soaps, maybe One Man's Family and Ma Perkins. I'm no longer sure. I was not caught up in the daily drama of those shows as I was later in Chandu. Had that been one of the daily programs, I might have become an elementary school drop-out. But I couldn't find excitement in those midday shows and gladly returned to school. Regardless of what was playing, the radio was company during a pox or flu or some unwelcome thing.
We are so very much the products of our histories, of our longings for what we knew, what we loved. I am not surprised that my fiction writing takes the form of episodes or chapters. I like that many of the tv shows I watch now have story lines, often mysteries, that run through an entire season rather than being quickly resolved in single, free-standing episodes. I think it is smart programming to have the audience feel invested in the outcome. Oscar Wilde told us, "The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last." In my case, it seems to be lasting a lifetime.