COUNTERSPY. “The Case of the Blackmailed Hijacker.” ABC, 09 August 1949. Don McLoughlin (David Harding), Mandel Kramer (Peters).  Available on many sites online, including this one.

   Counterspy was a totally fictitious anti-espionage agency whose case files began on the radio in 1942, telling tales about the Nazis and how their efforts in setting up spy operations here in the US were always thwarted. After the war ended, the series continued, up through 1957, but the enemies of this country became more general.

   In this episode from 1949, for example, truckers driving through the mountains of eastern Pennsylvania with payloads of dynamite and other explosives are being held up and robbed. The bounty is then shipped off and sold to rebels in post-war hotspots around the world, threatening world security.

   As it turns out, the title of this episode is incorrect. When one driver escapes being kill in one such hijacking, he is at first willing to testify against one of the thugs he could identify, but when the rest of gang threaten to reveal his past life as a convict, and worse, threaten his wife, he finds that his memory of the incident is not as sharp as he thought it was.

   It’s a fairly straightforward thriller of a mystery, in other words, but it’s also one with a very effective final scene taking place in the quiet of the night when the men of Counterspy move carefully in on the truck that has been blown to bits.. Who was caught in the explosion – the good guy, or the bad ones? Pictures in the mind can be a lot more effective than those seen acted out on the screen of a black and white TV set.

   Each of the two stars, Don McLoughlin and Mandel Kramer, went on to have long careers in TV soap operas. Both had very effective voices for radio, though, and I suspect the many listeners thought Counterspy was a real honest-to-goodness organization acting on the behalf of Americans everywhere.