The radio program The Lone Ranger debuted on WXYZ radio, Detroit, on this date in 1933. The show became so popular it was one of the reasons why several stations linked together to share programming on what became the Mutual Broadcasting System.
Several characteristics were unique and central to the premise of this western, and the initial episode which explained the legend was occasionally repeated so young viewers would under-stand how the hero gained his name and why he wore a mask. The Lone Ranger was one of six Texas Rangers who were ambushed while chasing a gang of outlaws led by Butch Cavendish. After the battle, one “lone ranger” survived, and was discovered by Tonto, a Native American who recognized the survivor as John Reid, the man who had saved his life earlier. Tonto thereafter referred to the ranger as “kemo sabe,” which is translated as “trusty scout.” After Tonto helped him regain his strength, the ranger vowed to hide his identity from Cavendish and to dedicate his life to “making the West a decent place to live.” He and Tonto dug an extra grave to fool Cavendish into believing all six rangers had died, and the ranger donned a mask to protect his identity as the single surviving ranger. Only Tonto knows who he is … the Lone Ranger. After he and Tonto saved a silver-white stallion from being gored by a buffalo, they nursed the horse back to health and set him free. The horse followed them and the Lone Ranger decided to adopt him and give him the name Silver. Shortly thereafter, the Lone Ranger and Tonto encountered a man who, it turns out, has been set up to take the blame for murders committed by Cavendish. They established him as caretaker in an abandoned silver mine, where he produced silver bullets for the Lone Ranger. Even after the Cavendish gang was captured, the Lone Ranger decided to keep his identity a secret. Near the end of this and many future episodes, someone asks about the identity of the masked man. The typical response: “I don’t rightly know his real name, but I’ve heard him called… the Lone Ranger.”
— From the Encylopedia of Television
The show remained on radio for 23 years.
“A fiery horse with the speed of light! A cloud of dust and a hearty ‘Hi-Yo, Silver!’ The Lone Ranger!”