Before TV, radio was the home entertainment hearth. Nowadays it offers music, news, and topical chatter, but from the 1920s thru the '40s the airwaves crackled with drama, comedy, and murder mysteries. JUDSON FOUNTAIN (b. 1952, Brooklyn) grew up after the golden age of radio theater, but became enchanted with suspense-driven chillers like Inner Sanctum and The Shadow. While America morphed into couch potatoes, Judson quixotically tried to revive the art of radio fantasy. That he lacked training, technology, skilled staff, and a budget did not deter him. Ed Wood, Jr. made movies; Judson produced radio dramas.

In his late teens Fountain began writing and recording dozens of primitive, gothic-tinged playlets. His derivative plotlines, flavored with Halloween kitsch—spooks, zombies, haunted houses—dished up morality plays about redemption for the noble-hearted and damnation for evildoers. Judson delivered most of the voices—old hags, young punks, creepy thugs, and hapless thieves—assisted by his avuncular sidekick/narrator, Sandor Weisberger. The outre productions were characterized by cliche scripting, baffling ethnic accents, and inept editing, salted with copious needle-drops of creaking doors and wolf howls from scuffed sound effect records. The dramas were pressed on small-run LPs with xeroxed liner notes hand-glued to blank sleeves.

Over the years, these curios circulated among collectors of the bizarre, attracting a cult following. In 2004 and 2008, Judson's dramas were reissued on a pair of CDs by the avant-garde Innova label. Jackson Brian Griffith, former Pulse magazine Senior Editor, summed up Judson's legacy: "Imagine paint-sniffers aiming for the Firesign Theatre and hitting Plan 9 From Outer Space." The amateurishness and undeniable sincerity synergize to great advantage in Fountain's theatricals: there is charm in the awkwardness and delight in the often-abrupt plot twists. Judson was last seen in 1995 when he performed with Sandor at WFMU. After that, he mysteriously disappeared.

     — Irwin Chusid