Most Americans have grown up with Archie comic books. If one is a younger Baby Boomer or older Gen Xer he or she might even remember the Archie cartoons that aired throughout much of the Seventies. But long before those cartoons, Archie appeared in his own radio show called Archie Andrews, also known as The Adventures of Archie Andrews.
Archie first appeared in Pep Comics #22, December 1941. The creation of Bob Montana, Archie is the archetypal seventeen year old, living in Riverdale and attending Riverdale High. Archie proved to be such a success that he would eventually share the cover of Pep Comics with the magazine's star The Shield and would eventually shove him off the cover completely. Archie would receive his own title in Winter 1942, only a year after his first appearance. Eventually MLJ would change its name to Archie Comics and would even discontinue their superhero line entirely. Archie would even receive his own newspaper comic strip in 1946. A radio show was a natural extension of this success.
Archie Andrews debuted as a 25 minute, five day a week show on NBC's Blue Network on May 31, 1943. This was a mere 18 months after the character's debut in Pep Comics. The initial incarnation of Archie Andrews only lasted until December 24, 1943. The show was not off the air for long, however, as it returned on the Mutual Broadcasting System as a 15 minute programme on January 17, 1944. This incarnation only lasted until June 2, 1944. This time Archie Andrews would be off the air for an entire year, returning on June 2, 1945 as a 30 minute show that was broadcast once a week on NBC. This time the show lasted until September 5th, 1953.
Over the years Archie was played by a number of different actors. Charles Mullen played Archie in the initial Blue Network run. Jack Grimes played the role while it was on Mutual. Grimes would later provide the voice of Goofy in a few cartoons and later Jimmy Olsen on the Sixties Superman cartoon and additional voices on Speed Racer. At some point Burt Boyar played Archie, but I don't know if that was late in the Mutual run or early in the NBC run. I definitely know that on the NBC run Bob Hastings played Archie. Hastings would have a long career in television, guest starring on shows from Gunsmoke to Murder She Wrote. He played Lt. Elroy Carpenter on McHale's Navy and Tommy Kelsey on All in the Family. He was the voice of Commissioner Gordon on Batman: the Animated Series.
In all, counting the various breaks in its run, Archie Andrews would run about a total of nine years. This was a very healthy run for a radio show. Ultimately, it was one of the most successful radio shows based on a comic book character (although not nearly as successful as The Adventures of Superman, which ran from 1940 to 1951).
Having listened to a couple of episodes from the NBC run of Archie Andrews, it is easy to see why it was a success. It is a very funny show. Archie Andrews is a classic situation comedy, starting out with a situation (Archie wants to get Veronica a bottle of bubble bath for her birthday, Archie's father is trying to stay cool during a heat wave), upon which complications are piled until everything reaches a head in a very hilarious climax. If you are a fan of old time radio or of Archie, I recommend you give the radio show a listen sometime. Archie Comics has several episodes available on their official site.