Wyllis Cooper made his name as the creator of Lights Out, a notoriously gruesome horror series that featured everything from stabbings to cannibalism by way of clever sound effects. Cooper eventually left the show in the hands of Arch Oboler to make a go of it as a Hollywood screenwriter.
He met with only modest success.
Returning to radio, he imagined a series more subtly unsettling than the mayhem and gore he had mastered before. Thus Quiet, Please in 1947, and its emphasis (declared in the title) on intimate, insidious chills.
It’s hard to believe, but Ernest Chappell was not an actor when Cooper signed him for the Quiet, Please leads. They met when Chappell was the announcer on an earlier project, and Cooper—who hated overly affected acting—had a hunch that he could be a chameleon, lending low-key credence to everyman roles. That bet paid off immediately, with Chappell’s characters—always vivid—transforming in show after show.
Included in this collection is a 29-minute masterpiece, often cited as the finest fantasy broadcast ever aired. The Thing on the Fourble Board, from August 9, 1948, combines a number of essential Quiet, Please elements: a tale that begins where it ends, except that everything’s changed; a slow but steady buildup of mystery and suspense; a deadly comic twist; the involvement of you, the listener, as a participant in the story.
It’s a tour-de-force of invisible terror.
These shows were recorded to directly to disc during broadcast, then copied to reel-to-reel tape. Audio quality varies; most episodes sound fine, but you’ll need to turn up the volume for a few. Equalizing the levels of the files would have amplified noise, so it was decided to leave them all in their original state.
It was common practice at the time to air episodes more than once. Rather than repeat those shows, this collection provides the recording with the best audio quality.