Oak Park Arms
Golden Age of Radio performances for seniors at the Oak Park Arms

Radio Reenactment: ‘The Weird Circle’

Oak Park Arms

Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, an all volunteer radio reenactment group, will present “The Weird Circle” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, at the Oak Park Arms retirement community, 408 S. Oak Park Ave.

The Weird Circle was a syndicated series of radio adaptations of classic horror stories. Produced in New York for two seasons, the series produced a total of 78 25-minute shows between 1943 and 1947.

While many radio shows explored horror and suspense at that time, The Weird Circle was difference, because its stories were often based on literature. The shows were composed of scripts from the work of some of the world’s best known and respected supernatural fiction authors of that time such as Edgar Allan Poe.

The shows had no musical accompaniments save for the occasional strumming of piano chords to signal the transition into another scene.

The earliest airing appears to have been over Chicago’s WGN as a sustaining program for its first season.

The performers

Ben Dooley uses shoes on a wooden box for sound effectsThose Thrilling Days of Yesteryear is composed of Chicagoland actors who share a common interest – to perform old time radio programs for the community. Each actor and technician donates talent and time for free.

Group founders, Ben Dooley and Pam Turlow, husband and wife, established a connection with The Oak Park Arms in September of 2002, when Turlow’s father became a resident. They’ve been volunteering/performing at The Arms ever since.

Dooley and Turlow’s group performs only once every two months due to the considerable challenges involved in creating a show. They browse through thousands of old time radio episodes, select a favorite, listen and type out the script. Many shows are not available in print and have to be painstakingly transcribed. Then they gather sound effect, rehearse and mount the show.

Sound effects were an important part of live radio shows, and the group performs them live. They have a real door for slamming, buzzers, a sound board and shoes for footsteps, and doorbells.

The shows are very popular with residents and people from the community. Some even bring their children and grandchildren to show them what entertainment was like before television.

“Since the entire cast donates its time and energy, we can only do shows six times a year,” Dooley said, “but we strive to make sure that it’s well worth the wait.”

The Oak Park Arms is a rental retirement community which provides independent living and assisted living apartments and a full schedule of activities and services. Furnished apartments are also available for a short-term stay – a weekend, a week, a month or longer.

The radio show is free and open to the public. For more information call at 708-386-4040.