The Red Ryder radio series began February 3, 1942, on the Blue Network. It was broadcast three times a week at 7:30pm Pacific time.
When the Blue also acquired The Lone Ranger from the Mutual Broadcasting System, Mutual decided to compete by airing Red Ryder in the same time period. Thus, Red
Ryder aired on the East Coast that year from May 20 to September 9 on Mutual. The series beat The Lone Ranger in the Hooper ratings, but the success was short-lived.
Red Ryder was sold to a regional sponsor, Langendorf Bread, and after four months was no longer heard in the East. Mutual and Langendorf continued the series on
the West Coast Don Lee Network through the 1940s at 7:30pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, always with the familiar organ theme, "The Dying Cowboy" ("Bury
Me Not on the Lone Prairie"). Announcers on the show included Ben Alexander and Art Gilmore. The continuing characters of the comic strip were also found in the
radio series, produced by Brad Brown with writer-director Paul Franklin and writer Albert Van Antwerp. Reed Hadley portrayed Red Ryder on radio from 1942 to 1944,
followed by Carlton KaDell (1945), and Brooke Temple (1946–51). Arthur Q. Bryan had the role of Roland "Rawhide" Rolinson, and Red's sidekick Buckskin was played
by Horace Murphy. Jim Mather provided Indian voices. Numerous actors played Little Beaver: One of the most notable was Robert Blake (on credits as Bobby Blake),
Tommy Cook (1942 on), Frank Bresee (1942–46, alternating with Cook), Henry Blair (1944–47), Johnny McGovern (1947–50), and Sammy Ogg (1950–51). During the same
mid-1940s time frame, Henry Blair also portrayed Ricky Nelson on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Billed as "America's famous fighting cowboy," Red Ryder was
notable because he usually did not kill his enemies but instead aimed for the hand to disarm them. Such sound effects were handled by James Dick, Monty Fraser,
and Bob Turnbull.