Tangent Online

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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

The Mysterious Traveler -- S.O.S.

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The Mysterious Traveler aired from 1943-1952, and while immensely popular was forced off the air due to accusations during the McCarthy era that the Radio Guild was a "Communist front organization." The Mysterious Traveler was but one of several casualties of these accusations. Regular listeners know the whole story of this popular radio show, including the spinoff fantasy magazine of the same name (and its relationship with Ray Bradbury and others), but for those new to The Mysterious Traveler we point you here.

"S.O.S." was written, produced, and directed--as were all MT episodes--by the amazing team of Robert Arthur and David Kogan (photo at right). It aired on May 2, 1950 as episode 253 of MT's approximately 370 shows. It begins with three criminals bemoaning their fate, and that of their comrades who have been caught and sentenced to long prison terms. Having escaped the fate of their brothers in crime and low on money, they consider going straight because of the scientific advances in crime prevention and detection giving the police the upper hand. But then one of them comes up with a foolproof plan to heist 5 million dollars in uncut diamonds from a passenger liner. At least he thinks it's a foolproof plan...

The Mysterious Traveler showcased stories from various genres; listeners never quite knew what to expect from week to week: mystery, horror, the supernatural, or science fiction, as this episode ably demonstrates.

Put your thinking cap on and try to guess the you-never-see-it-coming surprise ending of "S.O.S." ...if you can.

Play Time: 29:43

{Shortly following Tangent Online's presentation of the pair of Mysterious Traveler episodes in 2009--see link above--I received the following email from none other than David P. Kogan, co-writer, and producer/director of the show. It seems the information I gathered from several online sources was in error as to his date of birth, and had listed him as being deceased. That error has now been corrected. Mr. Kogan writes:

"As a first time viewer of Tangent,  I was surprised to find that I had died in 1964.  This means I have been living forty-five years on borrowed time.  I begin to see a script shaping up... On whose borrowed time have I been living?  While you have Bob Arthur's dates right, for your information  I was born in 1916... and continue to breathe.  For how long... is the question.   (Signed) David Kogan"

Though embarrassed by my research error, I was nevertheless thrilled to receive a letter from David Kogan, who, in his early 90s, somehow discovered Tangent Online and had taken the time to write (even if it was to correct an error). I received his email on July 17, 2009.

Sadly, I received an email from Mr. Kogan's son Kenneth on August 10th, informing me of the death of his father on August 6, 2009, a mere three weeks following his email to us. A startlingly talented man, David Kogan (1916-2009) will be sorely missed.}