Urban Legend: The Final Broadcast

1930, Radio Cast - Source Unknown

Sometimes told in response to the legend of Midnight Tales with Cassandra, The Final Broadcast is a much older bit of folklore which started appearing around Southern California in the late 1930s. No record can be found of any of the events in question, although many aging former residents of the area claim to have witnessed the incident personally.

It’s said to have happened at a radio station in Riverside, or possibly Long Beach, on a sweltering summer-night. A live recording of an episode of The Detective Miles Archer Mystery Hour was in progress when the lead actress, Archer’s love interest, went suddenly off script. Millicent Herb, who played Rebecca Diamond, had been caught up in an affair with Chuck Moxon, who played Archer. Although a married woman, she’d fallen for her co-star, and the two had carried on behind the closed doors of the station, well away from Herb’s husband. Unbeknownst to her, however, Moxon felt differently about the situation, and was apparently also carrying on a sexual relationship with Stephen Terry, who played Archer’s arch-nemesis, the villainous Dr. Fang.

Supposedly, although she’d been hearing rumours, Herb had refused to believe the truth about her lover, until, during a commercial break, Moxon – who had little interest in hiding his conquests – engaged Terry in a passionate embrace.

It’s said that, upon the return from the advertising interruption, the actress retrieved a handgun from her purse and held it on the man she felt had betrayed her. Although the dialogue that followed was somewhat confusing to the listeners at home, fans of Detective Miles Archer were used to having to wait untill the climax of an adventure for clarification of plot points, and considered the heated exchange to be simply a part of the production.

The tip off came when Moxon cussed vigorously, and at length. His crude response to a question from Millicent brought on a flood of calls to the station, and, when a secretary ran into the small studio to inform the show’s producer of the complaints, the sudden entrance was enough to set off the already jumpy gun-woman.

In a blaze, she killed her three fellow cast members, the Mystery Hour’s Foley artist, the producer, and two sound engineers.

For the next five minutes she shrieked and wept into the open mics, which were finally disengaged once the first patrol car arrived on the scene – it was only then that, realizing it was no dramatic production, many parents of the members of the Miles Archer Fan Club fully comprehended the reality of what had happened, and thought to bundle their children off to bed.


Children Listening to Radio - Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS