According to the terrific website Digital Deli
, in 1932, NBC Radio presented a radio program called "K-7". How many episodes were aired is unknown - well, virtually anything else is unknown and no copies of the show nor any scripts are available. Spy Television
expert Wesley Britton has made mention of NBC Radio's Secret Service Spy Stories
which ran from 1932-1933. It is possible (my supposition) that the two were related but who knows!
What is known is that in 1939, a new radio series presented a good number of 15-minute spy adventures named Secret Agent K-7 Returns
. The exact number is somewhat suspect - I have seen it listed as 78 and 79. If it were that many, there are a dozen which have vanished or
there were a dozen repeated.
Several excellent websites dealing with Old-Time-Radio broadcasts have catalogued the "known" episodes. These lists have some differences caused probably by the fact that there is no clear record. Exactly which episode was aired when is debatable.
One thing that I feel is not really debatable (and therefore likely to be argued) is that the episodes fell into two basic groups. Each group would have a tale recounted of the work of one of K-7's agents. Each episode started with a Morse code radio signal followed by the announcer telling the listeners the name of the show. The void would then let the audience know that "America's number one adventurer, K-7, former United States secret agent who operated in 22 countries, on land, on sea, and in the air, brings you another story of today. Here is K-7 ..."
In the first group, numbering around 31, at this point a very somber sounding individual, speaking slowly and methodically and in a voice that clearly showed the speaker was not a young man, gave a brief description of the sort of trouble that the night's adventure would concern. This man was K-7 and his manner showed how dire things were getting and how lucky the country was that men and women like those under his command stood up to fight those who would hurt the nation.
In these earlier episodes he would then pass the mic to "my old friend" John Holbrook who would finish setting the scene for the adventure to be told. Mr. Holbrook would talk of these cases as those of fellow agents of K-7.
In the second group, running from around #32 to the end of the series, would take a different style.
In these later stories, the story would start with K-7 in a secret office communicating either in person or by phone or radio to one of his agents what the assignment was. K-7 did not actively take part in these cases but he would be called on occasion with updates and would supply instructions or dispatch help.
The audience would hear him buzz on the intercom, be answered by a female voice, and then order an agent into his office "for orders". The agent could be heard "reporting for duty" and then K-7 would set the mission dynamics and send the agent on his way with the concluding directive to "keep me informed".
During these missions, K-7 apparently traveled around the world because he would often tell which ever agent he summoned that "we are in this country" and that country might be in Europe or the Far East or just at an unspecified location.
It is interesting that when K-7 pushes the intercom to talk to his assistant, he always announces that "this is Secret Agent K-7 speaking ...". (Who else would it be? Wouldn't the assistant, the same female voice each time, likely recognize her boss's voice after so many such buzzings?) However, he always refers to the man he wants sent in for assignment as "Special Agent".
Another thing I spotted was the fact that each of the three main Special Agents (M, Z, and B-9) call their female assistant by her first name but never do we hear the women call the agent anything but his codename. Do they know it? That seems odd. Oh, well.
The episodes listed below are the ones that I found on these excellent OTR sites I mentioned. Again, the numbering system is suspect so the order I present them in, and the number I have assigned, is currently my own and is BY NO MEANS authoritative. The year is just what I am guessing based on these sites. The titles I have given them ARE the titles I have seen most often used by these sites, though. The plots are my take from having listened to them.