22 June 2024

My bedtime guilty pleasure

Written by Ned Norris

Now, don't get me wrong; my wife Joy is, without a doubt, my favorite sleeping companion, but between you and me I do have a little secret. Don't tell her, but when it comes to lulling me into a restful slumber, she does have a bit of competition - and it's a man.

I am sure you've already guessed that this has to be related to old time radio - and you'd be right.

The man in question is Nelson Olmsted.

Let me explain.

There's something so wonderful about old-time radio shows—the way they transport listeners to another period using only sound and their imagination. In this huge world of audio gems, some series stands out for being great bedtime rituals. And right now, despite the foreboding title, the wonderful Nelson Olmsted's captivating narrations in the series Sleep No More, is one of my favorites to lull me into a sound sleep.

Sleep No More premiered on NBC Radio on September 8, 1956. The show was hosted and narrated by the legendary Nelson Olmsted, who also reworked many of the stories. It aired till June 22, 1958. Nelson's delivery, characterized by his engaging voice and regulated pacing, proved to be the ideal antidote to a difficult day.

Despite its short run, the series had a tremendous impact on listeners. It's uncertain exactly how many episodes there were, and it is hard to find out how many episodes remain, but luckily there are sufficient on RUSC to recognize what a masterpiece of suspense and storytelling the series was.

For those who are unfamiliar, Sleep No More is a collection of scary stories brought to life through Olmsted's superb narration. Each episode demonstrates the power of narrative, with rich plots that captivate the mind and inspire the imagination. Despite my best intentions to listen intently, I frequently fall asleep before the conclusion. It typically takes multiple efforts to reach the end of any given story.

Olmsted's narration is vital to this encounter. His voice has a distinct blend of warmth and authority that converts any story into a soothing bedtime companion. The richness of his voice, the careful modulation, and the emotional resonance he delivers to each character and setting really does make each episode of Sleep No More a delightful audio journey.

This series has become a personal favorite, especially when a storm rages outside. The mix of Olmsted's voice and haunting storytelling, set against the soundtrack of howling wind and pattering rain, gives the ideal setting for a night of deep sleep. The warm sense of being nestled in as a storm rages outside only adds to the experience.

Unlike series such as Suspense or Escape, this series doesn't have a shifting ensemble of prominent stars to fall back on. Instead, its power resided in Olmsted's ability to effectively bring each story to life on his own terms. His narration frequently forced him to switch between characters within a single episode, demonstrating his versatility and creating a lasting impact on listeners.

I have to confess, when it comes to bedtimes habits, I am not monogamous as far as my old radio shows are concerned. On occasion, I look for something more lighthearted to conclude the day, but that's a topic for another post entirely. For the time being, Sleep No More is still my go-to series for evenings when I want a mix of suspenseful storytelling.

Despite frequently falling asleep before the finish, the stories of Sleep No More are indelibly etched in my memory. They awaken my mind in the minutes before I fall asleep, infusing my dreams with rich imagery and haunting narratives. When I wake up and eventually return to the episodes, it's like visiting an old friend—there's a reassuring familiarity in the incomplete story, combined with the excitement of finally hearing the ending.

In an age where sleep is sometimes elusive, having something that consistently lulls me to sleep is vital. This wonderful series has become more than simply another nostalgic listen for me; it's a reliable companion who calms me down at the end of the day. The absurdity of the title just adds to the series' allure, making it a one-of-a-kind and indispensable element of my nightly ritual.

So, if you want a combination of thrilling storytelling and relaxing narration, especially on long, stormy nights, go no further than Sleep No More. Whether you remain awake for the entire show or fall asleep like me, Nelson Olmsted's astonishing stories are sure to leave an effect.

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