I'll try to be brief because others often have more entertaining anecdotes and observations:
We know that Welles conceived the Mercury Theater on the Air (known initially as First Person Singular) as a projection of earlier work he had done on Radio, an innovation in wedding drama to story telling, and as a way of bringing good literature and the Mercury Theater to a greater, a "wider"; in other words, to a National audience. The former notion had been an ideal instilled in him as early as his student days with "Skipper" Hill and the annotated Shakespeare project.
CBS, with whom he had worked in several Columbia Radio Workshop dramas, agreed to the concept of a sustaining series, in the Summer of 1938, when the sponsored shows took an eight or ten week hiatus.
We also know that "Treasure Island," a boyhood favorite of Welles, was the first choice, but that he came to Houseman rather abruptly to say, Brom Stoker's "Dracula," another favorite, would take the place of Stevenson's boys adventure novel.
Welles and Houseman, cut and pasting from the novel itself, worked all night in an Automat to create the script.
What I remember first of the program is, of course, Bernard Herrmann's conducting of Tchaikowski's "Piano Concerto in B-flat minor," which became the theme for the entire series, the subsequent Campbell Playhouse, and was in the time period turned into a popular song, "Tonight We Love."
Then, after proclaiming CBS's purpose, the Announcer strung together critical accolades about Welles' and the Mercury Theater "lighting up the sky over Broadway," which was kept throughout the first series. He turned the program over to Welles, who explained the concept of First Person Singular, and introduced "Dracula," establishing Stoker's theatrical connections, stressing the work's place in World Literature.
The play, as we can hear, is narrated by various characters in diary and epistolary form (like the novel). Essentially, without the "Rosebud Quest," this method is the one which Welles adopted for CITIZEN KANE. We may speculate that Brom Stoker, or at least the Epistolary Novel, is the father of an important contribution to movie storytelling often attributed to Welles.
Jonathan Harker, Dr. Seward, Dr. Van Helsing, Mina Harker, among others, tell the story, augmented by sound effects of carriage wheels, coffins being hammered together, wind in a ship's rigging, etc. Hermann provides very judicious selections of music, mainly and importantly, to provide bridges between the scenes.
To me, a couple of these scenes stand out. Firstly, I shall never forget the presentation of Dracula's sea journey from Varna on the Black Sea to Whitby on the East Coast of England, where Dr. Seward resides. The narration here comes in the form of the Russian Ship Demeter's log. The First Mate (Karl Swenson -- better known as Lorenzo Jones of the longtime Soap Opera) tells of all the strange goings-on: coffins of Transylvanian earth, vampire bats, a wild dog, and the elimination of the crew, "on-n-e bwye on-n-n-n-e." The Captain, as the last human standing, lashed to the wheel, to stay awake, finishes the writing duties.
He comes to a finish, rather like Scott did in his final diary entry, marooned in the Antarctic.
And here is one of the great moments in Radio. There is a rule in the business, that a pause can last one, two, three beats. On beat four, the listener senses that something is wrong. On beat five, that sense becomes excruciating. Beyond that, people begin to fiddle with the radio, thinking that it's broken or that the station has gone off the air.
In Welles' radio production of "Dracula," it is on Beat Five of silence that a terrific SHRIEK nearly blows the speakers out!
A truly great moment.
Welles, of course, plays several characters, but most memorably, he is Count Dracula, and I would argue that, wired for sound, he may be the greatest of all Dracula's. Like the original of Stoker's masterful novel, he is a weary, obstinate man, jaded with his hundreds of years in the field of debauchery. Only when he comes up against Mina Harker does he come alive with passion and lust.
As Professor Van Helsing (Martin Gabel) shouts for her to "Strike!" -- the climactic scene between Agnes Moorhead as the slightly besotted Mina holds a stake and mallet above the heart of the confident Welles (pulling out all the stops of his organ of a voice) is also one of the grand marriages of acting, sound effects and music in the Medium of Radio.
Those are my memories and impressions. What about the rest of you?