SOMETHING OLD IS SOMETHING NEW - by William Joseph Hill

 

 

 

 
Back in the days before television, there was this thing called radio. Many of us have parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents who remember the Golden age of Radio. Back then, families would gather around the ol’ box to listen to their favorite dramas, adventures, comedies, variety shows, etc. You name it, radio had it.

When TV took off in the 1950s, this theater of the mind slowly became absorbed by the music industry to the point where radio shows became all but extinct. The art form was dying out by the 1970s until NPR produced the first “Star Wars” radio drama, introducing a new generation of kids to this very cool format.

Of course, we’ve always had sportscasting and talk radio, but it wasn’t the same as good old radio drama. Perhaps the most famous radio program of all time was Orson Welles’ broadcast of HG Wells’ War Of The Worlds, which caused a huge panic in October of 1938, as the audience listening couldn’t tell if it was just a program, or a live newscast.

In the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, books on tape, or audiobooks became a new form of entertainment. Most productions were just a single performer reading the book out loud on tape, but in some cases, music and sound effects were used to enhance the listening experience. This hearkened back to the old radio days of yesteryear.

The advent of the 21st Century has introduced a new word to the vernacular – Podcasting. Many podcasts follow the talk radio format; sometimes the shows are live, other times they’re recorded for future downloading. But podcasting has provided a new opportunity to revive radio dramas.

Perhaps the term Audio Drama is more precise. Since the cost of recording audio has dropped to ridiculously low prices, it doesn’t take much for anyone to set up their own recording studio in their home. With a bit of ingenuity and a flair for script writing, one can produce their own audio program for a fraction of the cost it would take to shoot even a short film or video.

Distribution via podcast channels, or even YouTube can give you access to a huge potential audience. If you’re a filmmaker trying to raise money for your feature movie, then perhaps converting it into a short audio drama may help to get you to build an audience and eventually raise the funds to produce the movie.

Also, recording your own audio programming can help you explore different genres, and since it’s the music and sound effects that helps to paint the picture in the listener’s mind, you don’t need to travel to distant exotic locations—a few sound samples can give the effect you’re looking for.

Podcasts can be downloaded for future listening, or streamed live off your webpage. Giving your audiences these options maximizes their enjoyment and can help you build a fan base. We here at Four Scorpio Productions are working on several audio programs specifically written for the medium. Our Audio Serial The Adventures of Johnny Chesterfield is a throwback to the old 1930s radio plays. The show will chronicle the chipper and over-enthusiastic delivery boy Johnny Chesterfield as he delivers packages of cigarettes to the major Hollywood studios. Look for “cameos” from old time Hollywood stars and movie moguls as this pre-WW2 comedy/adventure show feeds your 20th Century nostalgia.

We’re currently in production with some short sketches that will introduce you to some of our characters. Stay tuned to this website as we announce the premiere on our YouTube channel!