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Martin Grams Jr.

Gang Busters:
The Crime Fighters of American Broadcasting

Gang Busters

When Phillips H. Lord created GANG BUSTERS in January of 1936, crime was so rampant that it was almost tolerated. Obedience to the laws and respect for law-enforcement agencies was at a low ebb. Criminals and their methods were highly publicized in glamourous episodes. Lord

had just finished his G-MEN series that dramatized FBI case files and wanted something with more action and appeal to radio listeners. He created GANG BUSTERS.

At first Lord appeared on the program and interviewed guest police officials. Later, as his other radio programs demanded more attention, he turned the hosting chores over to West point graduate Colonel H. Norman Schwarzkopf. Years later, when the Colonel was recall to active duty, Lewis J. Valentine, former Commissioner of Police for New York City took over.
Before any case was presented to the radio audience, facts were checked and double-checked. The Chief from each bureau had to approve every fact in the report that originated from their office, before it was dramatized. Sound effects were checked, law enforcement endorsed the series, and each week radio listeners were treated to the true-life thrills and glamour that made front page headlines.

One of the most important things to come from GANG BUSTERS was the clues. Following every thrilling GANG BUSTERS drama was a nation-wide clue, which consisted of last-minute reports of wanted criminals and suspects, received from the police and the FBI. One hundred requests weekly was the average number of police bulletins received by GANG BUSTERS. They were boiled down to two clues, selected for their importance, color and ease in remembering the descriptions. Criminals such as Lawrence Devol, Edward (Wilhelm) Bentz, Hoffman and Penning, Howard Hayes, Charles Jones, Willie Sutton, Claude Beaver and Percy Geary were a few apprehended as a result of those clues. By may of 1942, more than 277 other criminals had been apprehended as a result of the GANG BUSTERS clues. This same format has since been applied on television including more recently, UNSOLVED MYSTERIES and AMERICA'S MOST WANTED.

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