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Sounds Like Murder: Early 1980s Gothic on North American Radio

McMurtry, LG

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Horror and the Gothic have long been staple genres of radio drama, including the radio drama revival series of the late 1970s–early 1980s, CBS Radio Mystery Theater (1974–82). During the same time period, the Canadian government, recognising an emergent national-identity crisis in relation to its southern neighbour, invested heavily in original programming on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). This resulted in the popular horror series Nightfall (1980–3), which Danielle Hancock argues presented ‘murder as a Canadian national narrative’ (2018). While CBSRMT occasionally adapted existing stories from other media, the majority of the output for both series were original, written-for-the-air dramas. Embodying Gothic returns of the past upon the present and the effects of transgressive conduct in society, murder is examined as a Gothic trait in episodes of Nightfall and CBSRMT. Radio’s ambiguities and intimacies provoke listeners of these programmes to confront disjunction. The differing worldviews – American masculine nationalism and neoconservatism subverted; Canadian polite and tolerant masculinity turned upside down by a nihilistic rejection of these values – focus Gothic spotlights on each country’s anxieties.


McMurtry, L. (2022). Sounds Like Murder: Early 1980s Gothic on North American Radio. Gothic Studies, 24(2), 151-166.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 31, 2022
Online Publication Date Aug 1, 2022
Publication Date Aug 1, 2022
Deposit Date Aug 22, 2022
Publicly Available Date Aug 22, 2022
Journal Gothic Studies
Print ISSN 1362-7937
Electronic ISSN 2050-456X
Publisher Manchester University Press
Volume 24
Issue 2
Pages 151-166
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : 'This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Edinburgh University Press in Gothic Studies. The Version of Record is available online at:


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