In this article I want to look at The Shadow's biography based on the radio program. The Shadow radio program aired from September of 1937 until December of 1954. There were some key differences between The Shadow on radio and The Shadow in print. On the radio, it was only The Shadow and Margo Lane who solved the mysteries and crimes. In print, The Shadow was aided by his agents who were The Shadow's eyes and ears, providing him with key information and clues. On radio, only Margo Lane knew the true identity of The Shadow.
Who is The Shadow on the radio program? Let me answer that in the words from a few episodes of the radio program. In the very first radio show we are simply told this, "...The Shadow, a man of mystery who strikes terror in the very souls of sharpsters, lawbreakers, and criminals." (Death House Rescue) That tells us what The Shadow does, but doesn't tell us who he is! But in the introduction to the radio episode 'The Curse of Siva' we get the answer to who The Shadow really is. We are told, "The Shadow, a mysterious character who aids the forces of law and order, is in reality Lamont Cranston, wealthy young man-about-town. As The Shadow, Cranston is gifted with hypnotic power to cloud men's minds so they cannot see him. Cranston's friend and companion, the lovely Margo Lane, is the only person to whom the voice of the invisible Shadow belongs."
So now we know that the radio program version of The Shadow is Lamont Cranston. We also now know that he has hypnotic powers that aid him in his fight against crime. But where did Lamont Cranston get such powers? Lamont Cranston tells us himself in several episodes! Here is what he discloses to Margo Lane. "Would they approve my methods? Would they believe in my science? Why do you think I've devoted countless hours to investigating electric and chemical phenomenon? Why do you think I went to India, to Egypt, to China? Why do you think I studied in London, Paris, and Vienna except to learn the old mysteries that modern science has not yet rediscovered, the natural magic modern psychology is beginning to understand? Well, magic that wouldn't seem so natural. I studied and learned for a purpose." Lamont Cranston devoted much travel, time and effort into learning ways he can aid the forces of law and order!
Furthermore, in the radio show "The Temple Bells of Neban" we learn exactly where The Shadow learned his hypnotic powers. Lamont Cranston tells us, "Years ago in India, a yogi priest, keeper of the Temple of the Cobras at Delhi taught me the ancient mysteries. He taught me the mesmeric trick that the underworld calls invisibility." It was in Delhi, India that Cranston learned and mastered the hypnotic power to cloud men's minds! This fact was also alluded to in the episode "The Shadow Challenged!"
According to The Shadow radio program, The Shadow is Lamont Cranston, a wealthy young man who has invested his life in learning the old mysteries and new sciences so that he can right wrongs, bring justice to criminals, and aid law enforcement. As The Shadow, he strikes fear into the very souls of criminals and has become the underworld's number one target to eliminate!