Sundays, 8:00pm to 9:00pm
Imagination Theatre is a one-hour weekly mystery playhouse, recorded live before a 500-seat studio audience and embodies everything that's great about radio drama including award winning scripts, live Foley sound effects, original music cues and big name talent like Harry Anderson, Patty Duke, John Astin and more!
At the age of eight, Jim French knew what he wanted to do with his life: he wanted to be a radio announcer. With this seemingly impossible goal tucked in the back of his mind, he turned a room over the family garage into a make-believe radio studio and "broadcast" into tomato-can microphones mounted on broomsticks. He practiced "announcing" by reading out loud from magazines he had stashed in the bathroom. His pretending paid off six years later. It was 1943, most radio announcers were fighting in WW2, and Jim got a job playing piano and announcing on KPAS in Pasadena, California, a mile away from his home. From that time on, Jim was seldom without some connection to radio. Carl Bailey, his mentor at KPAS (now KRLA) arranged for Jim to do dance remotes from the Pasadena Civic Ballroom, where he broadcast a half hour of live big band music by such orchestras as Les Brown, Jimmy Dorsey, Stan Kenton and other well known groups of the time. Jim was just sixteen.
When he entered the Army, it was only a few months before he was sent to Japan with the occupation troops, and there he got assigned to an Armed Forces Radio Service outlet in the city of Kokura. It was while there, doing several DJ and live music shows, that he was assigned to write a weekly dramatizaton of the week's news, using the station's announcers as the actors.
Returning to civilian live in 1948, Jim teamed up with a college chum to write scripts for the CBS radio series "Suspense" and the Dick Powell Theatre. But his real interest still lay in announcing, and in 1949 he left Pasadena City College to take his first fulltime announce job at a local station. During this period he became engaged to Patricia Anne Soule, who had come to town from the University of Washington on an acting scholarship to the Pasadena Playhouse. They were married in Seattle in 1950, and spent the next two years in Honolulu, where they did a morning show, "Over The Coffee Cups With The Frenches", and Jim honed his interviewing skills on a series of audience shows.
Back in Seattle in 1952, Jim worked on the air at KING-AM and KING-TV with his own daily audience show, then to KIRO and KVI. It was at KVI that he began producing radio dramas on a weekly basis. Moving back to KIRO in 1980, he continued writing and directing dramas for a weekly series called "KIRO Mystery Playhouse", and in in 1995, TransMedia, the syndicating company, began sending his radio plays around the country under the title of "Imagination Theatre".
Jim has written and produced nearly 500 original shows, including the popular "Harry Nile" and "The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" series, which are now broadcast on over 120 stations in the U.S. and Canada, and are also heard on the XM Satellite Radio system all over North America. Playing acting roles in some of Jim's dramas have been such stars as Patty Duke, Tom Smothers, Keenan Wynn, Roddy MacDowall, Ruta Lee, John Astin, Richard Sanders, and many, many others.
About the Show
Imagination Theatre broadcasts feature mystery, suspense, fantasy and adventure, produced by Jim French Productions before live audiences on a state-of-the-art recording stage.
These shows began airing in Seattle, Washington in 1972, with performances by major Hollywood guest stars, including John Astin, Eddie Bracken, Hans Conreid, Bob Crane, Patty Duke, Russell Johnson (the Professor on Gilligan's Island), Kurt Kasznar, Ruta Lee, Roddy MacDowall, Richard Sanders (of WKRP in Cincinatti), Tom Smothers, and Keenan Wynn. National syndication began in 1996. This led to coveted media awards and honors by BBC Radio.