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With Dick Orkin

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Chickenman was an American radio series created by Dick Orkin that spoofs comic book heroes, inspired by the mid-1960s Batman TV series. The series was created in 1966 on a Chicago radio station WCFL, and was then syndicated widely, notably on Armed Forces Radio during the Vietnam War. According to public radio show, This American Life, “Chickenman first soared the radio airwaves from 1966 to 1969; nearly every day there would be a new episode. The episodes are each about one or two minutes in duration. The program’s distribution spread to over 1,500 radio stations. According to the people who syndicate Chickenman, it has been translated into German, Dutch, and Swedish.”

In the series, Benton Harbor, a shoe salesman at a large downtown Midland City department store, spends his weekends striking terrific terror into the hearts of criminals everywhere as that fantastic fowl, Chickenman. Or, at least, that’s what he tells everyone. In reality, he mostly hangs around the Police Commissioner’s office and irritates the Commissioner’s secretary, Miss Helfinger.

Each episode begins with an overly-dramatic theme, a four-note trumpet sound echoed with Benton Harbor’s “Buck-buck-buck-buuuuuck” chicken call, which is followed by a rousing cry of “Chicken-mannnn!” and voices shouting, “He’s everywhere! He’s everywhere!” This tagline became a memorable catchphrase, especially because it’s repeated again at the end of each episode, two and a half minutes later.

Midway through the series, in 1973, Orkin added special weekend episodes called Chickenman vs. the Earth Polluters. In 1976, a special LP was created by Orkin and Bert Berdis: Chickenman Returns, and an updated radio show in 1977, Chickenman Returns for the Last Time Again.


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