Will Murray’s Pulp Classics Line of Audiobooks continue to thrill and excite listeners, due in great part to the fantastic voices bringing these treasures of the past to life for modern fans. In a continuing effort to provide the best in Audiobook entertainment, Radio Archives has added not just another Audiobook reader to the already sterling lineup, but a performer with background in Radio, Television, and Films, and with such a distinctive, vibrant sound all his own that he can only be called ‘The Voice’.
Michael C. Gwynne, although new to Radio Archives, is in no way new to Radio. From his early childhood of listening to classic radio programs while waiting for his father, Big Band leader Frankie Kaye, to come home from work late at night, Gwynne discovered an interest very early on in what he heard. “I grew up with a lot of music around the house and a lot of uncles who weren’t really uncles sleeping over on couches and spare beds and lots of laughter well into the early morning hours. My first babysitter was a golden dialed radio that sat in the corner of my little room where my brother and I slept and it was telling stories and singing songs and I thought that’s what the rest of the world was doing.”
Determining that he wanted to be a part of what was coming out of radios all over the country, Gwynne set off at a very early age to do just that. “I realized I really loved the magic of radio and it had been my first babysitter, the golden dial that told me stories and scared me to death in the middle of the night and then sang songs. And so I thought wouldn’t that be interesting as a job. This would be in the late 50’s and I started listening to a lot of people on the radio and they were seeming to have a wonderful time playing that Top 40 brand new Rock and Roll Music. By the end of the ninth grade when the school promised to pass me only if I went to another school in the tenth grade, I took my mother’s typewriter into the basement. I wrote some letters to a few radio stations and asked them if there was any jobs to be had and one of them responded rather positively, if I would send an audition tape. I had no idea what that was, we didn’t have a tape recorder in those days…Then I thought, you know what, this is not going to work. I hitchhiked to this little radio station which by then we had moved to Toronto, so it was in a suburb of the big city and showed up on a Saturday afternoon. I just showed up… And I got the job. So radio went from one thing to another…Radio I realized combined two of my favorite passions – radio and traveling. I had a road itch.” Following his passions, Michael found himself in Berkley California, then Natchez, Mississippi and Mobile, Alabama and Monterey, California and Honolulu, Hawaii, as well as more radio jobs that eventually landed him in San Francisco in 1966.
Although his avenue into entertainment, Radio would not hold Michael C. Gwynne forever. An interest in acting as well as quite a bit of providence led him into a career full of roles in Television and film as well as interactions and friendship with noted Hollywood actors, such as Robert Mitchum. “I had to try my hand at acting. I had no experience, but like any other thing I’ve done, I had to try it for myself to see if I could do it. So I arranged for the radio station in San Francisco to switch me to their sister station in Manhattan, WWRL, where I did the all night show and studied acting with Stella Adler during the day. All that seemed to be for naught, it was too much like school…but finally I realized just like anything else I had to try it, so quite coincidentally a letter came from a friend I knew in San Francisco who said he was now living in Hollywood and that’s where the actors were and I should come out.”
After a coincidental meeting with Jerrold Freeman, a Producer at Universal, at a 1969 New Years Eve Party, Gwynne found himself with an acting job two weeks later. “I immediately went right into the business, I mean I know it sounds like the classic Hollywood story, but it’s what happened to me. One thing led to another…I didn’t even have an agent, it was only later when I met this young kid named Spielberg and Jerry Freeman also got him on at Universal, I did Spielberg’s first three TV shows.”
With roles in TV shows such as Kojak and MacGyver, as well as parts in movies like Sunset with James Garner and Bruce Willis and Private Parts, the Howard Stern movie, Gwynne still did not wander far from a particular interest he had in his youth – Pulps. “I started collecting Weird Tales when I was like fifteen years old. I used to go to every old book store I would see in any town I was in and ask them if they had any Weird Tales. And sometimes mostly they would laugh and say that was a Pulp twenty years ago, they’re not gonna be around anymore, but every now and again one guy would smile and disappear for a minute or two and bring one or two of them from the basement somewhere and I would spend like a dollar apiece for them and keep them, so I’ve amassed quite a collection.”
Of the title character of his debut audiobook in the Will Murray’s Pulp Classics line, Gwynne particularly enjoys not only the sheer over the top deviltry of Dr. Yen Sin, but also the fact that this villain has a truly formidable hero to spar with. “First of all, let’s look at this man’s name. Dr. Yen Sin. We all know what yen means and we all know what sin means, that’s how evil this guy is. He enjoys his evil. He’s got a yen for the sin. It’s rooted in a more interesting and singularly recurrent foe, the figure of Michael Traile, the man who could not sleep, the man who never slept. This is a man with almost equal power. Michael Traile began to intrigue me, a story about a young man in India who had a botched operation for a brain aneurism and found that the sleep aspect of the brain was interfered with and now he could no longer sleep. And he had to be taught how to take yoga relaxation exercises in order to keep him from just exploding. His mind couldn’t stop working and how even as a young man they had to constantly give him puzzles to solve, things to read, languages to learn. By the time he was fifteen he was speaking twelve different languages. He had grasped the deepest philosophies of the Orient and had gone on to become a bit of a scholar before he reached his twenties. So now Dr. Yen Sin has a formidable foe.”
Michael is clearly having fun with the tales he’s now telling for Will Murray’s Pulp Classics and feels like listeners and fans will as well. “Possibly, it has such a, there’s a quality to them. As soon as I started reading them aloud, I realized, whoa I can have some fun here, I’m not just delivering information. Most read material is delivering information. Pulps employed words of color, even exaggerated color. People thrummed when they talked, things bolted across the room, lightning flashed with a brilliant scientific blur across this room and several people were so satanic and their eyes glistened…As I’m reading them, I’m thinking, My God, I bet the police are going to be here any minute. They’re so big and wonderful and grand and glorious.”
Listen to Michael C. Gwynne as he brings Dr. Yen Sin #1 to life for Will Murray’s Pulp Classics from Radio Archives.