The Black Mass

The Black Mass

"The Black Mass" was a horror-fantasy radio drama produced by Erik Bauersfeld, a leading West Coast radio dramatist. The series aired on KPFA (Berkeley) and KPFK (Los Angeles) from 1963 to 1967, on an irregular schedule. Bauersfeld was the Director of Drama and Literature at KPFA from 1966 to 1991.

Bauersfeld's sound designer for most of the episodes was John Whiting, KPFA's production director. Their collaborations were later credited in a PhD dissertation with "keeping radio drama alive in America in the 1960s."

Music for the series was by several Bay Area composers, including KPFA's Music Director Charles Shere, a composer and music critic who later wrote books on American composers and also serves on the board of the Berkeley restaurant Chez Pannise.

Bauersfeld's "Black Mass" productions were an influence on writer-producer Thomas Lopez (ZBS), who noted, "In the 1960s, I was inspired by someone at KPFA in Berkeley, Eric Bauersfeld. who did a series called "The Black Mass", adaptations of H. P. Lovecraft and such. He helped me a lot. I consider Eric my mentor. He also did some fine Eugene O'Neill plays for radio."


Except as noted, these are in the Pacifica Radio Archives:

*"The Flies"
*"O Mirror, Mirror" and "Shidah and Kuziba"
*"Evening Primrose" (adaptation of John Collier's short story)
*"An Evening's Entertainment"
*Two by Edgar Allan Poe: "A Predicament" and "The Tell-Tale Heart"
*"A Haunted House" (by Virginia Woolf)
*"Bartleby the Scrivener" (by Herman Melville)
*"A Country Doctor" (by Franz Kafka)
*"The Ash Tree" (by M. R. James)
*"Atrophy" by J. Anthony West
*"The Judgement"
*"Oil of Dog" (by Ambrose Bierce) and "Esmé" (by Saki)
*"The Jolly Corner" (by Henry James)
*"Diary of a Madman" (by Nikolai Gogol)
*"Legend of the Island of Falles"
*"All Hallows" (by Walter de la Mare)
*"Dream of a Ridiculous Man" (by Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
*"The Death of Halpin Frayser" by (Ambrose Bierce)
*"Moonlit Road" (by Ambrose Bierce)
*Two by Poe - "Man in the Crowd" and "MS. Found in a Bottle"
*Tales by Lord Dunsany
*"The Outsider" (by H. P. Lovecraft)
*"Proof Positive" (by Graham Greene) and Witch of the Willows (by Lord Dunsany)
*"The Renegade" (by Albert Camus)
*"The Squaw" (by Bram Stoker)
*"The Rats in the Walls" (by H. P. Lovecraft)

The following are listed from KPFA, KPFK or KQED airchecks, not the Pacifica Archives:"Great American Scream" - KPFK:
*"The Boarded Window" by Ambrose Bierce
*"A Haunted House" by Virginia Woolf
*"The Feeder" by Earl Linder
*"Imp of the Perverse" (by Poe from KQED, San Francisco [15"] )

Releases of "Black Mass" episodes

*"Dream of a Ridiculous Man" - Pacifica Radio Archive #BB5499 36:00 This tape has no opening, closing or credits; an older copy is listed as 37:40. A cast of six is listed on the label. With sound effects and original music by Ian Underwood, the show aired 1/29/67.
*Adaptations of Lovecraft's "The Rats in the Walls" and "The Outsider" were released in the 1970s on a limited LP pressing of 1,000 copies.

Listen to

* [ Official "Black Mass" site (with all episodes available in mp3)]

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