How the Radio Serials, Chickenman and Toothfairy Were Born

At the suggestion of Ken Draper, WCFL Radio Program Director in Chicago in the late 60’s, Dick Orkin conceived and wrote the Chickenman and Toothfairy series while he was Public Affairs/Production Director at the "Voice of Labor" radio station.

Chickenman
In addition to writing the series, Dick played the Fantastic Fowl and several other characters, including the Police Commissioner of Midland City, as well as the Mayor of the town, who was always in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The late Jim Runyon was the famous "WELLLLL…." announcer of the series.

He improvised the famous word-play closes. In several episodes, Jim also played Benton’s boyhood enemy, Rodney Farver. Jane Roberts (who later became Mrs Jim Runyon) played the acerbic Ms Helfinger, secretary to the Police Commissioner of Midland City; as well as the Masked Mother, sometimes known as the Maternal Maurader. Jane also played Benton’s excitable girlfriend, Sayde Leckner—as well as her mother, Mrs Leckner. Jane also played several other minor roles in the series.

The final 65 episodes and special EPA weekend shows were produced in the early seventies. Contrary to claims made by others, the original 195 episodes produced in the 60’s were authored by Dick with additional assistance from his partner B. Ziggy Stone and Dick’s son, Haris Orkin..

The Chickenman series gave detailed attention to sound effects, from door opens and closes to the longest explosion in the history of radio. The man responsible for these and a myriad of other production effects was J. Michael King, who today owns and operates one of the most successful recording studios in Chicago and the nation.

Chickenman has aired in more than 3,000 cities in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and wordwide via Armed Forces Radio making it the longest running radio serial of all time. Chickenman (52 weeks of episodes) continues in broadcast syndication today and is most popularly heard on oldies and contemporary formats. Chickenman can also be heard on XM Satelite Radio. CD’s for personal home use are also available (see links below).

 


The Secret Adventures of the Tooth Fairy
In the early 70’s, Dick created this 325 episode- 2 1/2 minute radio serial that told of Newton Snookers, who assumed the mantle of his late father who assumed the role of the Toothfairy when Newton was a child. The episodes dramatize the mishaps of Newton—who in his attire of lavender dental smock and sequined high hat and mask—visits the homes of children who lose their growing teeth. As was the tradition, the young ones left the tooth under their pillow for pickup by the Toothfairy during the night and, in the morning found a nickel, dime or quarter, a bus token or even a slug in place of the tooth.

The series has aired on more 2,500 radio stations wordwide and remains in syndication along with Chickenman via The Chicago Radio Syndicate, Inc.

In recognition of his creation of these series—as well as his radio advertising work—Dick was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in April 2002 by the National Association of Broadcasters.