I have been incorrectly reporting on information concerning the beginning of the 30-minute Ranger Bill episodes. I apologize because the correct information was right under my nose and I missed it. I would like to thank fellow Ranger Bill fan Wayne for asking some questions that helped me find my mistake.
I had been reporting that RB179 "VIPs Visit Knotty Pine" was probably the very first 30-minute Ranger Bill episode because it had the earliest broadcast date of all the RB shows Moody uses in its two-year cycle for Bill. I am nearly positive that another script Moody Audio has shared with us is the first 30-minute show.
Moody Audio shared some scripts with the Ranger Bill Fan Club that we have posted on our Zoomshare pages. There are the three scripts for the very first Ranger Bill story, "The Pendleton Valley Fire," first aired in October of 1950. We also have the scripts for the two-part half-hour story "The Spirit and the Spirits." We also have one more script, for a story I titled "Escape of the African Animals." This story is about a train wreck in Wildcat Valley in which several wild African animals bound for the Knotty Pine Zoo escape into the wilderness around Knotty Pine. That script is labeled "Script #104" and aired Saturday, Oct. 3, 1952. It appears that this show was the 1952 season opener for Ranger Bill.
If my guess is right, then Moody aired 15-minute Ranger Bills every Monday afternoon for just short of two full years, 103 shows in total. Then beginning in the fall of 1952 Moody went with 30-minute Ranger Bill shows that aired on Saturdays at lunch-time. It also looks as though they produced 32 to 35 Ranger Bill episodes per year from 1952 until the close of production. RB006 "The Fire Bug" pretty much verifies my guess because it is script #168 and aired in mid-August of 1954.
If you will allow me one more assumption, I believe that Moody decided to continue to air Bill in a 4-year cycle and took the most recent 200 shows for that cycle. They then dropped the 65 earliest 30-minute shows along with all of the 15-minute shows. I would say that they had enough material for a 5- or 6-year cycle, if they had so chosen. This is no criticism of Moody. They had to make some decision on what to use and what not to use.
So please, stop by our Zoomshare pages and take a look at "Escape of the African Animals." It is certainly a key story in the Ranger Bill saga!