The WhistlerNext to Suspense, The Whistler was perhaps the most popular old-time radio mystery drama. It ran for almost 14 years, debuting on May 6, 1942, and lasting until September 22, 1955. The producer was George Allen. Directors included Sterling Tracy and Sherman Marks. A total of 692 episodes were produced, yet despite the series' fame over 200 episodes are lost today. There was also a brief attempt to turn The Whistler into a movie serial.
Each episode opened with the haunting theme whistled in 13 notes by Dorothy Roberts. For most of the series' run Bill Forman played "The Whistler," who served as each episode's host and narrator. "I am the Whistler," he intoned ominously, "and I know many things for I walk by night. I know many strange tales, many secrets hidden in the hearts of men and women who have stepped into the shadows. Yes, I know the nameless terrors of which they dare not speak."
The stories then followed an effective formula in which a person's criminal acts were typically undone by their own stupidity; ironic twist endings were common. The Whistler narrated, often commenting directly upon the action in the manner of a Greek chorus, taunting the criminal from an omniscient perspective.
Unlike Suspense, The Whistler never featured any major Hollywood stars. But the quality of its writing and performance made it a radio mainstay that is greatly admired to this day.