When radio listeners heard Rossini’s “William Tell Overture,” they knew these words were not far behind:
“A fiery horse with the speed of light! A cloud of dust and a hearty ‘Hi-Yo, Silver!’ The Lone Ranger!”
Perhaps radio’s best-remembered drama, The Lone Ranger debuted on WXYZ/Detroit in 1933. Under the editorial guidance of creator George W. Trendle and writer Fran Striker, the Ranger was a white knight who, “with his faithful Indian companion Tonto…led the fight for law and order in the early western United States.”
The show was a huge success for WXYZ and the newly formed Mutual Broadcasting System. Although the show was aimed a young audience, at least half of the show’s listeners were adults.
Radio’s first Lone Ranger, George Steinus, left the show early and became a respected film director named George Seaton. Earle Graser took the role from May 1933 until his untimely death in 1941; Ranger announcer Brace Beemer stepped into the title role until the show left the air in 1956. English-born actor John Todd played Tonto throughout. Radio Hall of Fame inductee Fred Foy became announcer from 1948 until the end.
The Lone Ranger was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1988.