Gunsmoke

Probably radio's greatest Western drama, Gunsmoke was a masterful combination of excellent scripts, fine voice characterizations, and superior sound effects (or sound "patterns", as they were called on the show).

Producer/director Norman MacDonell and writer John Meston created Gunsmoke as an antidote to the entertaining but juvenile westerns like The Lone Ranger which dominated the airwaves. No simple ride-to-the-rescue morality plays here -- Marshall Matt Dillon was recognizably human. Memorably voiced by William Conrad and a supporting cast, the dramas, where good didn't always triumph, where brought vividly to life with an extra layer of ambient sound effects much as Dragnet was doing for police dramas.

Premiering on CBS in April 1952, Gunsmoke was good enough not merely to survive until 1961, but to carry a sponsor (L&M Cigarettes) into it's final days, and of course to spawn the long-running television version with James Arness as Marshall Dillon. On video Gunsmoke aired from 1955 to 1975.