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The Unofficial Robert Bloch Website

Essays

The Radio Built Bloch by Bloch

Yuri Rasovsky

I met Robert Bloch through his nephew, a high school classmate of mine at South Shore High School, Chicago. This was in 1960 or '61 when Bloch came down from Milwaukee to visit his relatives. Subsequently, he kept up a round-robin correspondence with another classmate Bob Greenberg and one Alfred Brandon Taylor III of South Carolina. He'd write one letter to the three of us, mail it to one, who'd mail it to one of the others, who'd.... You get the idea.

Unlike Greenberg and Taylor I did not follow science-fiction rabidly, nor did I read much of Bloch. I was, however, an aspiring writer and bothered the fantasicist with impertinent questions about the writing craft. He was very good about treating the three of us seriously and would sometimes write at considerable length to instruct me.

In one of these missives, he happened to mention his radio series, STAY TUNED FOR TERROR. It was produced briefly in Chicago from scripts that Bloch adapted from his short stories. His loving description of working in radio prompted me to press him for more details about radio drama. We spoke in detail about it at the 20th Worldcon, where I made myself a thorough pest, I'm sure. He advised me to look in the library for anything I could find by Norman Corwin and Arch Oboler. I did as he advised.

That was my downfall. I am now older than Bloch was when we first met and have spent the better part of my professional life writing, producing and directing radio plays - a career guaranteed to lead to penury and obscurity in the post-television world. With numerous awards and glowing reviews to my credit, I have become the nation's leading practitioner of a moribund art form. And I owe it all to Bob Bloch.

I had a chance to thank him in the late 70s when he attended a Trekkie convention in Chicago. My star was in the ascendant in those days so I could treat him to a pretty nice lunch. He was somewhat distant - which I thought odd considering his earlier mentoring - until one of us cracked a joke. Once his sense of humor is breached, he relaxed and enjoyed our afternoon.

Since then we've corresponded less than a half dozen times. I'm sure that I faded from his memory many years ago, if I were ever there at all. On the other hand, I remember his graciousness, his humor and his warm memories of radio. These days, whether he gets my thanks or curses for introducing me to my wayward and unprofitable profession depends on whether I'm in studio or juggling finances at the time his name pops into my head.

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Noted audio dramatist Yuri Rasovsky has worked professionally in theater and broadcasting as actor, writer, director and producer for nearly 30 years. Since he founded the National Radio Theater (1972-1987), he has created hundreds of radio productions heard on commercial and public radio outlets around the world. He is the recipient of multiple professional awards, including two George Foster Peabody Awards.

Most recently, Mr. Rasovsky won the 2001 Bradbury Award of the Science Fiction Writers of America for his radio/audio series 2000X. Mr. Rasovsky's website can be found here.

This essay is 2001 by Yuri Rasovsky and is reprinted here with permission.