From the July 20, 1950 edition of The Daily Review:
Man Gambles $40,000 of Own
Money on a New Radio Idea
HOLLYWOOD, (U.P.) -- Comes a man who's gambling $40,000 of his own dough on a new radio idea--and he hopes he loses.
The feller is Jimmy Saphier, a radio producer, and he appears to have all his marbles, all right. But he says nothing would make him happier than to lose $5,000 every Thursday night for the rest of the summer.
And before you call for the men in the white coats, here's the gimic:
Saphier is breaking in a show tonight called "Somebody Knows." It's a sort of combined whodunit and giveaway and all you do to collect is produce evidence that'll trap a murderer.
Saphier got the idea from the Chicago Sun-Times, who got the idea from William Finstead, who says unsolved murders have been his pet project for 20 years.
"Every week we'll dramatize one of the juicer ones," Saphier explained. "Then we'll ask the listeners to send in clues. And if any of those lead to the conviction of the criminal, we'll pay 'em $5,000."
And jump at the chance. Because, Saphier figures, even one crime solved through his show would put "somebody knows" on every front page around the country.
"We don't have a sponsor yet," he says, "so I'm putting up the $40,000 myself. "I've got five other shows on the air...there's always a little cash kicking around the house."
And Saphier is one producer who makes no bones about "appealing to the higher type of audience."
He hopes his listeners are mostly criminals and thugs and gangsters and stool pigeons. Mostly stool pigeons.
"Those are the ones who usually solve these cases," he explained. The Sun-Times caught three suspects. One was convicted.
"I don't care if we only have one listener. As long as he's the guy who knows who did it--and will rat on his pals."
Saphier says the winners will be identified by a number instead of a name--in case anybody feels like bumping 'em off for squealing.
"They send the information to us," he explained. "We Photostat it and send it to the police chief who hasn't been able to crack the case.
"And we've gotten terrific cooperation from practically every city in the country."
Saphier figures he's set for a good long run on this idea. It's a cinch he'll have never run out of plots, anyway.
"New murders are always popping up," he said.
The promotional interview above pretty much sums up Mr. Saphier's concept for Somebody Knows. CBS and arch rival NBC went head to head with competing crime expose series' during the Summer of 1950: CBS' offering, Somebody Knows and NBC's offering, Wanted. Somebody Knows, while arguably--and apparently quite intentionally--the more sensationalistic offering, concentrated on famous unsolved cases. NBC's offering concentrated on notorious fugitives at large.
The inimitable Radio curmudgeon, John Crosby, cites the comparisons and contrasts between Somebody Knows and Wanted, from the July 20, 1950 edition of the Oakland Tribune:
Real Crimes Basis for Two Programs
By JOHN CROSBY
CBS and NBC have both come up with almost identical programs aimed at solving crimes which are still open cases and at apprehending criminals still at large. Both these programs, NBC's "Wanted" (7 p.m. PDT Friday) and CBS's "Somebody Knows" (6 p.m. PDT Thursday), are, so far as I know, novel, though rather belated, experiments in radio journalism.
Both programs review actual unsolved crimes, providing listeners with as much information as possible about the suspects in the hope that some listener may come forth with tips leading to the capture and conviction of the criminals.
The networks would be performing a great public service if they land any criminals. So far, neither of them has. Even if they don't, these are both highly educational programs, furnishing the average laymen with sound information on the workings, both of the underworld and of the law enforcement agencies. Since the public's thirst for crime programs of some sort seems virtually unquenchable, it's nice to have a couple of programs that deal with authentic crimes as opposed to the ordinary run of derring-do on the radio.
"Somebody Knows," which offers a $5000 reward if you can put a finger on any of these criminals, recently took up the case of a psychopathic killer operating in St. Paul. It opened with the voice of a Dr. Hathaway, a professor of psychology, addressing a seminar on mental abnormalities and speaking specifically of the repetitive nature of criminal acts by various types of psychopaths.
This led into the review of the case of a girl named Geraldine. Geraldine was returning home from her job shortly after midnight on a rainy night. She was within two blocks of her home--a fact established by the bus driver who let her out there--when she was attacked and killed. Her body, the throat and wrists slashed, was found three miles away from the scene of the crime. The girl was neither raped nor robbed.
Dr. Hathaway, who was called into the case by the police, predicted that the killer would strike again if the same set of circumstances arose again. Sure enough, about a year later, a girl named Mary Agnes was returning to her home alone from an evening at the ballet about midnight. The circumstances were almost identical. She was within three blocks of her home--a fact verified by the streetcar conductor. It was a rainy night. The streets were deserted. Mary Agnes was killed in the same manner as Geraldine, throat and wrists slashed, and her body was discovered miles from the crime scene.
NO DIRECT LINK
There was no direct evidence linking both crimes to the same person, but Dr. Hathaway drew up a list of 21 points of similarity and concluded with what he described as a "personality portrait" of the killer. Want to hear it?
The man, says Dr. Hathaway, lived or lives somewhere in the neighborhood of the crime, has an automobile--probably an inconspicuous one--has a chance to roam the neighborhood either on foot or in his car without attracting too much attention, probably had an opportunity to know about Mary Agnes and may even have known her, was between the ages of 25 and 45, is likely to be intelligent with a good job and is the type of man not ordinarily open to suspicion, may have had a recent nervous breakdown, has sullen moody spells, shows less than average interest in women (a rather surprising point), and probably carries a knife with which he commits his crimes around with him at all times.
The criminal is still at large, and, Dr. Hathaway warned, he will strike again under the same set of circumstances.
"Wanted" is a somewhat different proposition. Its producers, Walter and Peggy McGraw, toured the country for months collecting the voices on tape of police officials, newspapermen, district attorneys, prison officials and witnesses involved in some of the Nation's most spectacular unsolved crimes. No actors are used on this one at all. The actual persons simply retell what they know of the crime. Each week an underworld character, kept anonymous for his own protection, gives tips on the habits, appearance and associates of the wanted man.
The cases "Wanted" has dealt with include that of Willie "The Actor" Sutton, a very skillful jail-break artist, who is wanted for virtually everything. Another concerned the shocking murder of Sen. Warren G. Hooper, of Michigan, who was to have been one of the principal witnesses in a gambling probe in that state. Wanted for the latter is a man named Mike Sulik, who, McGraw informed us, is one of the most dangerous criminals at large.
Both programs employ almost a magazine rather than a dramatic approach, avoid sensationalism and stick to the facts which, after all the crime nonsense on the air, you'll find enormously refreshing.
(Copyright, 1950, for The Tribune)
Text from Digital Deli Too