The ZBS Radio Hour: The Fourth Tower of Inverness & Ruby 1

This week, the ZBS Radio Hour returns, with the start of the  clas­sic radio ser­i­al, The Fourth Tow­er of Inver­ness, paired with the first Ruby adven­ture, Ruby 1: Adven­tures of a Galac­tic Gumshoe.

The Fourth Tow­er of Inver­ness

A unique inter­wo­ven and utter­ly addic­tive blend of humour, pagan­ism, West­ern Tra­di­tion mag­ic, Hin­du mythol­o­gy, Sufi sto­ries, ESP and oth­er amaz­ing stuff, The Fourth Tow­er has enchant­ed lis­ten­ers ever since it was first broad­cast in 1972. It was unlike any­thing pro­duced in radio dra­ma then – and remains so today.

The entire sto­ry takes place with­in a mys­te­ri­ous Vic­to­ri­an man­sion, high on a moun­tain above the pines and mists that sur­round the Bay of Inver­ness. The man­sion has three tow­ers, but while vis­it­ing, Jack Flan­ders claims to have seen a fourth. What can it mean? And why is it that Jack hears the dis­tant play­ing of 50s songs… just before an ‘acci­dent’ is about to hap­pen? Is it being played from a mys­te­ri­ous juke­box, high in the mys­te­ri­ous Fourth Tow­er? Jack has to find out – and these are the many adven­tures that ensue. Meet Jack and his aunt, Lady Jowls… and a whole cast of amaz­ing char­ac­ters, from the Madon­na Vam­pi­ra to Lit­tle Frie­da, the strange girl with pig­tails and no pupils in her eyes, who smokes Havana cig­ars…

The series fea­tures Robert Lorick as Jack Flan­ders, Valerie Manch­es as Lady Jowls, Mur­ray Head as Lord Jowls, and M. Ful­ton as Chief Wampum.

If you were grow­ing up in the US in the 1970s you may have heard this clas­sic ser­i­al on Pub­lic Radio… but whether you did or not, you are in for a ‘Riel’ treat.

Ruby, the Galac­tic Gumshoe

Ruby 1We fol­low our vis­it to Inver­ness with the most pop­u­lar series ZBS has ever pro­duced: Ruby, the Galac­tic Gumshoe.

Ruby is fast-paced and fun­ny inter­galac­tic enter­tain­ment the Marx Broth­ers would be proud of, with slick, splashy high-tech music and effects cre­at­ed by Tim Clark. The music and sound effects are stun­ning.

On the plan­et Sum­ma Nul­la (the “high point of noth­ing”) some­one is manip­u­lat­ing the media. And Ruby, our hip, tough-talk­ing detec­tive is hired to track down the male­fac­tors.

The Android Sis­ters per­form their satir­i­cal speak-songs as Ruby, the galac­tic gumshoe, encoun­ters some pret­ty weird plan­e­tary inhab­i­tants on her quest for truth and the inter­galac­tic way: The Tookah, with four ten­ta­cles, three eyes, a blue mus­tache and red fez, TJ Teru the archae­ol­o­gist, Chief Molierre of the Mole Peo­ple, sneaky lit­tle Rodant Kapoor, Angel Lips (the femme fatale of androids) and the Slimeys, genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered assas­sins.

Orig­i­nal­ly broad­cast around the world in 23 coun­tries includ­ing the CBC, Cana­da; BBC, Eng­land; and ABC, Aus­tralia. It won the Mark Time Award for Best Sci­ence Fic­tion of the Year, and Ruby offi­cial­ly entered Sci­ence Fic­tion’s Audio Hall of Fame for Best Sci­ence Fic­tion of 1982.

ZBS went on to pro­duce many more amaz­ing radio dra­mas, and the group with its char­i­ta­ble ZBS Foun­da­tion (dona­tions tax-deductible in the US) still exist today, releas­ing their enor­mous and expand­ing range of remark­able tales on CD and for down­load. If you enjoy The Fourth Tow­er you can own it — and many oth­er tales in the same vein and beyond. Vis­it the ZBS web­site at for more… and why not make a dona­tion to the con­tin­u­a­tion of clas­sic radio dra­ma?

You can lis­ten to the pro­gramme now at, or sim­ply click here to start your play­er, if your brows­er is con­fig­ured to do so. Lis­ten­ers in the Unit­ed States are encour­aged to tune in using this link:

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4 Responses to “The ZBS Radio Hour: The Fourth Tower of Inverness & Ruby 1”

  1. Just heard a bit of Meat­balls broad­cast on find­ing out he had the tick! So glad he was advised to check! My sis­ter has been made blind with it! But it was great to hear a clear copy of The Fourth Tow­er! I was in my first apart­ment sit fresh out of grad school and was glued to the radio in Ann Arbor!My tapes are now so bad I can’t play them so if I sell some art at some point I will try to become a mem­ber so I can down­load the series here! Great to have you avail­able!!!

    • Elrik Merlin says:

      Thanks for your com­ments — to obtain copies or to stream ZBS mate­r­i­al, please vis­it the web sites linked from the reply to your oth­er com­ment.

  2. Have you thought of putting your­self on IHEART Radio so those of us not in the states (I now live in New Zealand) can lis­ten to the sta­tion you men­tion above? Ta, Rita

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