James Arness knew that the ''Gunsmoke'' radio series was integral to the television adaptation's success
"We started up miles ahead of where a new show begins."
When moving into a new medium, there's always a fear that something might get lost in translation. While shows like The Goldbergs and The Gene Autry Show were able to enjoy success after being adapted into television series, it's completely understandable for the fanbase, and even the developers, to be nervous that the program might not be done justice; or worse, that it wouldn't be the same on television as it was on the radio.
However, series star James Arness was aware that the success of the television adaptation of Gunsmoke was, at least in part, due to the popularity of the radio series. He spoke to The Tennessean about the show's success and expressed, "I don't think any weekly ever came to television with the heavy-duty start-up we had. Gunsmoke had been on the radio for a number of years and had become an extremely distinguished kind of radio drama. It was almost in the nature of a cult following. There were Gunsmoke radio fans who never missed a show."
Arness explained that Gunsmoke's content on the radio lent itself well to the television series when it finally aired. He continued, "There were Gunsmoke radio fans who never missed a show. When they decided to make it into a TV series we had a tremendous backlog of material that these guys had developed over a number of years."
Not only did the radio series assist the creators and writers of Gunsmoke, but it also helped Arness a great deal as he got to know his character. He said, "The old story material was the most important background material I got because I was learning about the character and people and pace and how they related."
He concluded, "This is what I attribute the success of Gunsmoke to. Normally you make a pilot and go on the air but we started up miles ahead of where a new show begins."