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.