Hear Vintage Episodes of Buck Rogers, the Sci-Fi Radio Show That First Aired in 1932


(echo) Buck… Rogers… in… the… 25th… Century!

On this day in 1932, the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century radio program hit the airwaves. Following the success of the character in the comic strip format, it was natural to adapt Rogers for the nation’s latest craze: radio.

Few fictional characters have had such a profound and prolonged impact on American culture as Buck Rogers. He first appeared in Amazing Stories magazine as Anthony Rogers, and then in Philip Francis Nowlan’s novella Armageddon 2419 A. D. and its sequel The Airlords of Han. The story caught the attention of National Newspaper Syndicate’s John F. Dille, who contracted Nowlan to adapt the character into a comic strip, changing “Anthony” to “Buck.”

In 1932, the radio program premiered, making it the first science fiction program on radio. Initially broadcasted as a fifteen-minute show on CBS on a Monday through Thursday schedule, the show stayed on the air for the next fifteen years with varying schedules.

Now, thanks to Archive.org, you can travel back to 1932 and follow the adventures of “Buck and Wilma and all their fascinating friends and mysterious enemies in the super-scientific 25th century” (as stated in the show’s introduction).

Buck Rogers is largely credited with bringing into popular culture the concept of space exploration, not to mention ray guns and robots. Ray Bradbury may have stated it best in his introduction to The Collected Works of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, when discussing its comic strip form:

There you are, waiting, trembling, in fevers; so full of life that if you were a volcano you’d come up in someone’s cornfield and bury the silo. There you are, as afternoon slides toward warm dusk, eyes shut, listening…

And there’s the sound, whistling through the air, crashing along the shingles, sliding down the roof, falling to the porch. You fling the door wide. You bend to touch that incredible newspaper with a hot hand. Buck Rogers had just been born. And you a single wise small boy, are there alone to welcome him to a world he will help change forever.

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  • J.A. Coffeen says:

    Thanks for telling of the start of the radio program. nnnOne small correction to your first paragraph — the comic strip was titled “Buck Rogers u2026” from the first. “Armageddon, 2419 A.D.” was the title of the magazine story, as you say. It was never the title of the comic strip.

  • Richard Mays says:

    Love the old fashioned 25th century door latch.

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