Himan Brown

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Hi Brown, who died June 4 at 99, was the apostle of radio drama, forever proselytizing on behalf of the liberating powers of the sound medium. I am sure he hoped that television would prove a passing fad and that we would all reconnect with the aural tradition that sustained us since the first stories were bandied about a campfire by cavemen.

Brown was one of the greatest storytellers of radio's golden age. In such popular series as Inner Sanctum Mysteries and Grand Central Station, he deftly orchestrated the strength of the actors' voices with moody sound effects, creating vivid pictures in the minds of his audience. He realized radio was the only art form best experienced with closed eyes. The creaking-door sound effect that opened and closed Inner Sanctum was Brown's signature, so much so that he trademarked it. For him, that door symbolized entry into the imagination of his listeners.

Although he dabbled in television, his passion was always radio. In 1974, Brown resurrected the glories of old-time radio with CBS Radio Mystery Theater, and he held his own against such passing trends as disco and Dallas, producing and directing some 1,500 original shows over nine years. Of course, each program commenced with that creaky door, Brown's direct passage to the mind's eye.

Simon is the curator of television and radio at the Paley Center for Media