The History of Audio Drama 3

In the last post, we saw how Marconi’s ‘Radio Telephone’ made the Théâtrophone obsolete, how it dazzled the United States with opera and musical comedies, and how radio stations were beginning to pop up all across America to get involved in this new medium.

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by Dōhai

Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

In the last post, we saw how Marconi’s ‘Radio Telephone’ made the Théâtrophone obsolete, how it dazzled the United States with opera and musical comedies, and how radio stations were beginning to pop up all across America to get involved in this new medium.

One such station was WGY, Schenectady NY: they started broadcasting in February of 1922. According to historians they were the first station to have a troupe of actors dedicated to radio plays, and were transmitting full length stage plays every week, complete with music, and sound effects within a few months of opening. Their first play, ‘The Wolf’ by Eugene Walter, a complete three act play with musical interludes between acts, aired August 3rd 1922.

Another of the first of the major players was Cincinnati’s WLW who, within months of getting a license, were broadcasting one off plays and excerpts from longer works. On November 9th 1922, they ran their first one act play: ‘A Fan and Two Candlesticks’ by Mary MacMillan.

Within a year of these two starting up a score of new radio stations were also broadcasting audio dramas all across the states, and WGY and WLW were holding competitions, inviting listeners to write their own scripts to be performed on the radio.

recording a radio play

​​

It wasn’t long before Europe too was reveling in this new found medium of entertainment, and on January 15th 1924, the BBC presented its first ever written-for-radio play: ‘Danger’ was written by Richard Hughes in one night.

A play about a group of people trapped in a coal mine, Richard recalled writing it with major sound effects in mind. Sound effects which, come recording time, he had no clue how to create.

They enlisted the help of the sound effects man from the local cinema, and the stars of the show were made to wear buckets on their heads to create the echo effect of being in a mine. But the climax of the play was to be an explosion, and they were still a little stuck as “even popping a paper bag would have blown all the fuses”.

Reporters and critics set up in the press room during recording were very impressed, and they never found out that Hughes had staged a real explosion in the room next door.

recording a radio play

​​

On the other side of the channel, ‘Maremoto’ (Seaquake), a realistic account of a sinking ship due to be aired in France on October 23rd 1924, was banned from French radio until 1937 because the government feared the SOS message would be mistaken for a genuine distress call.

But of course, the saga of this new medium and its heightened sense of realism doesn’t end there! Next time on #THoAD, we take a look at probably the most famous radio drama the world has ever known ‘The War of the Worlds’ its creator Orson Welles, and the alleged controversy surrounding it.

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Una Animus

Una Animus is a nonfiction podcast by Sin Ribbon, about mental health, new perspectives, and the quest for personal fulfillment. Something of a shift for Sin, who works primarily as a fiction writer and visual storyteller.

Una Animus

by Dōhai

Una Animus is a nonfiction podcast by Sin Ribbon, about mental health, new perspectives, and the quest for personal fulfillment. Something of a shift for Sin, who works primarily as a fiction writer and visual storyteller.

I first encountered Sin’s work back at the end of 2017 with the launch of her first podcast, ‘In Her Burning.’ A critically acclaimed, haunting tale of a young girl chosen to undergo a procedure that would enable her to see beyond her physical reality. Written, directed and starring Sin (as a secondary thesis project), this audio drama’s beautiful style had me hooked from the get go. Incidentally the In Her Burning transcription has just been released in book form.

In this new podcast, not only does she share her personal journey through depression and agoraphobia, she brings the resources and insights used as coping mechanisms to help her along the way. Una Animus reflects her personal exploration into better mental health as she seeks joy and meaning in living.

Una Animus is not a rumination on depression nor does it have a, “Stop worrying, be happy!” type of self-help approach. The content focuses on balance, acknowledging the weight of fear while providing a perspective of hope. Although the uphill battle may continue, the point is that you keep climbing.

Listeners are welcome to ask questions of Sin for her to answer on the show by directing them to @sinribbon on Twitter.

I had the pleasure speaking with Sin about this new project, and I am honoured to share it with you all now.

I absolutely admire your choice to go public with this show; to bring your own mental health issues into the public domain requires so much strength. What was the defining moment/s that made you decide to share your thoughts on your own mental health with the hopes that it could help those who haven’t yet found the strength and courage to voice, or even face their own?

“Thank you. I suppose it was a combination of factors. First, it was something of a “backup plan” I’ve had sitting around for a while–not a mental health podcast specifically but some venture that resulted in opening up about my ideas, morals, and the knowledge I’ve acquired along the way. I mention in the first episode of Una Animus that I surround myself with positive reminders to help manage my stress, and I thought sharing these techniques might help others as well.

Primarily, I want to offer new perspectives through fiction, but an event in my life inspired me to share all the stories, content, and ideas I’ve been hoarding for years. It started with publishing my novel and began to snowball into a realization that there was more I could do to connect with audiences. Despite my social demeanor, I’m a reticent person, and I prefer to live behind a wall. I suppose I saw this project as an opportunity to share valuable information while conquering my fear of opening up.”

Having taken a quick look at the season highlights, I notice you take an in depth view from both a scientific and spiritual look at mental health issues. Is this because you have taken on both sides of the equation in your personal journey, because you feel that this balanced approach between science and spirituality is key for personal growth, or are you offering both standpoints in the hopes that the listeners can pick and choose what helps them the most?

“Both, actually. The show’s content emerges from my personal world, so naturally it seemed appropriate to take the approach that’s always worked for me. I’m a firm believer in overall balance and that both viewpoints are necessary to provide a wider perspective. At the same time, I wanted people of different faiths and ideologies to be able to connect with the show.

Science dissects while remaining grounded in the natural world in its quest for truth. However, it can become scrutinous and pedantic. A spiritual approach sees the situation on the whole. When dealing with mental health, you need understanding, compassion, and empathy. I don’t think you can go without mentioning spirituality when discussing emotional development and personal joy. Spirituality is unifying and connecting. Nevertheless, I believe it’s important to provide a foundation of evidence and research. Healing benefits from both approaches, so I discuss the medical and psychiatric side while also sharing the attitudes and viewpoints that have had an impact on my own healing. Audiences can draw from one or both of these approaches–it’s up to them–but they might be surprised by how much they overlap.”

It has certainly surprised me how much spirituality has shaped my life over the years. I was always the cynic, the scientist, when it came to life. It wasn’t until I began studying martial arts that I discovered how calming, mindful, and empathetic my emotional state had become.

For all the resources you share throughout the season, how deep would you say you explore these processes, and do you offer the listener further resources if they wish to examine them further?

“Absolutely. In the second episode, I touch on neuroplasticity with a fair amount of detail, although I do try to keep things understandable in a layman’s sense. The episodes tend to bounce back and forth between spiritual and scientific viewpoints from then on. For each episode, I cite where I pull the information from and provide links to where it can be found in the show notes. Throughout the season, I reference scientific books, research papers, self-help books, and online articles. I believe this is important because it creates greater context to the issues I’m addressing and how specialists have utilized this information for the betterment of mankind. There are new, revolutionary methods being used to conquer both physical and mental ailments. Not all of them are widely known, and in a show about mental health and growth, I want to provide hope that healing is possible. Sharing these resources illuminates the fact that we’re all in this together.”

Is there anything else you wish to add that you feel pertinent for the readers?

“I suppose for categories, I’ll have to classify this show as self-help, but I want people to be aware that I seek to go beyond that. Una Animus is about more than finding happiness; it’s about the journey through the valley and all the voices that speak to you along the way. My aim is to inspire from a pragmatic viewpoint because that’s the approach that’s helped me the most. Belief is important, but explaining the why’s, the origins, and the real world applications solidifies that belief. This show hinges on my spirit, all its strength and fragility, so while I may be sharing a lot of outside resources, all of it comes from a personal place of honesty and vulnerability. I think that will help listeners connect the most.”

I certainly feel it will help. Having a personal connection between the host and issues always helps more than detached information bursts. I for one am really looking forward to exploring this podcast, and if you are too, then you can find the show on its home page, as well as all your usual podcatchers.

My thanks Sin for your time, and I wish you all the best with this project.

Una Animus season one launched on Tuesday, (May 7th 2019) and will consist of twelve episodes to be released every Tuesday. There will be early access and potential bonus content via Patreon as well if you wish to support its creator Sin Ribbon.


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The Stories We Tell

The podcast ‘The Stories We Tell’ launches with a double-shot of the first two episodes next Tuesday (23rd April 2019), so to celebrate I got together with Paul Sating and Natalie Aked, creator of ‘Horrible Writing’ and ‘A Breviloquent Challenge’ respectively.

The Stories We Tell

by Dōhai

Back in October 2018 the Horrible Writing Writers Support Group on Facebook launched a fun monthly 500 word flash fiction event. The Founder of the group, Paul Sating, was so inspired by the event, he developed the idea into a podcast that features the best of these short stories.

The podcast ‘The Stories We Tell’ launches with a double-shot of the first two episodes next Tuesday (23rd April 2019), so to celebrate I got together with Paul Sating and Natalie Aked, creator of ‘Horrible Writing’ and ‘A Breviloquent Challenge’ respectively.

To tell the story of this podcast we first need to go back to July 2017, when veteran podcaster Paul Sating (Subject: Found, Who Killed Julie, and Diary of a Madman among others) launched Horrible Writing, a podcast with the aim of bringing ‘empowerment through candor’ to authors from all paths across the globe. It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly two years since the show launched, as I have been here listening since inception.

I asked Paul to give us a brief outline of the Horrible Writing show and its premise.

“I love listening to other writer’s take on the craft, but I couldn’t find a podcast featuring the affective side of writing. I need a pep talk from time to time, as many writers do, since this is such a solitary venture. But no one was doing it, that I found. I also believe that too many writers don’t open the closet and show our guests all the mistakes. That’s harmful to newer writers. They see a polished work and think, “I can’t ever do that.” So I did what I always do. If someone isn’t doing it, or willing to do it, I will.

I started the Horrible Writing podcast to document my journey, publicly, from know-nothing to published author. I wanted to serve that dual purpose of showing people the emotional journey alongside the reality that no one knows everything about ‘how’ to get published, and that’s it’s a constant exploration of learning.

Yesterday, I recorded the 83rd episode of the show and I realized there is so much I still have to learn. So, so much. And that’s okay.

By opening up to the public, with full candor, I believe–and the emails and reviews I receive can verify–other writers find it helpful and don’t feel so alone, so we all rise together.”

If you haven’t checked it out yet, and you have even a passing interest in writing, then this show should be on your playlist. You can find it here.

The Horrible Writing Writers Support Group launched on Facebook last August (2018) and has exploded with members from all walks of writing life, all of whom share support and resources to ‘raise all ships’ in the true spirit that this powerhouse was born.

One of the founder members of the team is administrator Natalie Aked, a blogger and short story writer. She has published a few books on Yuan Dynasty Mongolian food. In her own words:

“Mostly, I am a storyteller. I enjoy bringing the world to people in snippets of tales.”

Natalie introduced ‘A Breviloquent Challenge’ the monthly 500 word flash fiction event to the group so that they could have a bit of fun and flex those writing muscles. I asked her about her thoughts about introducing this challenge:

“I suggested the ABC to Paul because many of our newer writers were struggling with common problems. I hoped that flash fiction might help – writing is the only solution to writing problems in my book. I also hoped it would foster a solidarity within the group; and, maybe, start a conversation.

I think that the ABC is a positive force in the group. Not everyone participates, but those who do gain feedback and those who participate regularly are seeing improvements in their writing.”

Within a month of ABC being launched on the support group Paul and Natalie were in talks about a podcast.

“In late November/early December 2018, Paul broached the idea of the podcast. He admitted that he had been thinking about a podcast of stories and he hoped the ABC would be the venue to find those stories. I loved the idea!”

From initial idea to release has only taken a few short months. With (at time of writing) three episodes in the can I asked both Natalie and Paul if there had been any major hurdles, or even a few bumps in the road:

“Well, I have the easy job. I am responsible for the written stuff. Which basically means I set the challenges and the writers take it from there. Once the end date comes, I have a team of four judges who are AMAZING. They read and rank the stories. I collect the data and give it to Paul. Really, his job requires the most effort and he’s awesome at what he does. It’s been such an easy process thanks to everyone involved.” -Nat

“It’s been very smooth. Natalie is a champ. She was on-board with the idea from the very beginning. In fact, when I pitched it to her, we immediately started ironing out how it would work and what some of the potential tripping points were (things such as how we would keep it manageable for both of us and set the right expectations for everyone else. This was, honestly, one of the easiest joint efforts I’ve ever undertaken, credit to Natalie!” – Paul

One of the things I’ve noticed as a member of the group is the camaraderie: normally social media posts have a ‘look at me’ feel to them, but here they’re all about helping one another, has this bled over into creating the podcast?

“One of the most epic things about this whole process has been the community. Horrible Writing Writers Support Group has always been a nurturing environment, but when we added ABC I was blown away with the immediate response. Not only do the writers who participated read the other stories but they give constructive feedback. It’s also common to see comments from members who didn’t enter a story that month. It’s an awesome resource for the writers.

Now that we have linked the writing challenge to the podcast, we are seeing that community support again. Some of our writers are hesitant to read their stories. They may not have the equipment and time or they may feel that they can’t do the story justice. But the community just keeps giving.

This project has definitely cemented the ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ sentiment in my mind. The group has shown such support to one another.” – Nat

“This show truly is a community effort. It would be easy for people to post their story and move on, but that’s not what happens. In this wonderfully positive collective, what you see instead is the community reading each other’s work, providing encouragement and constructive criticism; and the narrators echo that.

I sent out a single initial call and was inundated with responses from narrators who want to be involved. We don’t have enough stories for the next five episodes to give to them, there are so many! Their eagerness to help is matched by ‘how’ they invest in someone else’s story. The narrators read other writer’s stories as if they are their own. This is truly a horribly wonderful community!” – Paul

I for one am looking forward to listening to the podcast and I wish it all the success. Being a part of it has not only helped me as a writer with technical aspects, but the community helps alleviate that impostor syndrome. Any final words from you both before I let you go?

“I’m super passionate about this project. I can’t wait to hear what listeners think of the podcast and read what our writers will come up with next. It would be great to see the participation grow. If there are writers out there reading this, come join us, please.” – Nat

“I’d really encourage people to give this show a listen. It’s a beautiful project because it is the manifestation of my Horrible Writing ideology, that we all rise together, that each and every one of us have stories to tell and we ‘can’ find an audience for those stories. Already, we have nearly 50 stories from dozens of authors to share with the world, and that’s only going to grow as we move forward. If someone is looking for fresh fiction from a variety of writers around the world, there is no other place to go than The Stories We Tell. It is a show for all voices, and all listeners.” – Paul

The podcast launches next Tuesday (23rd April 2019) and I hope you will join us here at Podern Times in celebrating the world of indie writing with the Horrible Writing Writers Support Group on Facebook and The Stories We Tell.


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Days of My Life Podcast

The name Aidan Wheller may seem familiar to some of you if you’ve been around the indie podcast scene for the last year or so: he made his debut in the podcasting world when he started reviewing shows in March of 2018 on YouTube. Well now he has his own podcast and not only did we get to preview the first episode, we got an interview as well.

Days of My Life Podcast

by Dōhai

The name Aidan Wheller may seem familiar to some of you if you’ve been around the indie podcast scene for the last year or so: he made his debut in the podcasting world when he started reviewing shows in March of 2018 on YouTube. In the space of five months he reviewed around 60 podcasts, including some of his personal favorites: The Big Loop, Dark Net Diaries, Dark Saga: Aethuran, Duggan Hill, Superstition, Lonesome Pine, Dream State.

Come summer however he stopped producing his podcast reviews in favour of producing a show of his own: he changed the channel name, removed all the reviews, and began plowing his time into his new project, the Days of My Life Podcast.

So when Aidan reached out to me with a sneak peek behind the curtain of his upcoming show, what could I say?

Within ten minutes of listening to his heart warming first episode I was on the phone setting up an interview.

Q. So what led to the scrapping of the review portion of your YT channel? Was it simply to make room for the podcast, or was there something else?

“The idea for Days of my Life came to me in a moment, and by the end of an hour I had mapped out twelve episodes in my head. I started recording the following week, and as it started to go well I decided I had to stop doing reviews. For one thing I thought to myself “I can’t do reviews and put my own show out.” I needed some distance from being a reviewer.”

He added:

“I still listen to loads of podcasts and audio drama but for now I’m just a fan… cheering them all on from the sidelines.”

Q. Is there a possibility that the review portion of your journey will return, or do you think it was ultimately just a stepping stone in your evolution?

“Maybe in some way it could. But as of now I have no plans to do any. (I still have all the reviews if anybody wants them), but to be honest I have ideas for another podcast after I get done with days of my life. I had another moment where a fully formed story popped into my head, this one is all fiction though, so a great amount of work will be needed to make it come alive. The thing I like about the idea of the show is that it does not limit me, for now I have twelve episodes, but I can see there being many more.”

Q. Would a continuation of DomL be just your own experiences, or would you consider doing “defining moments” of other people’s lives.

“I think that other people’s lives have probably been covered well enough. I thought about doing some shows about my heroes, idols… but I quickly ran into the copyright barrier! It’s impossible to really focus in on a person of fame without breaking copyrights! It took me a long long time to get the short clips that I use for reference in Days of my Life.”

A few weeks ago Aidan put up Episode 0, which is now available wherever you get your podcast fix. This heartwarming personal reflection on his deceased mother is entitled ‘Things I Wish My Mum Knew’ and it’s just that: a list of things that have happened since his mother passed away, that presumably is a reflection of the things they shared whilst she was still alive. It’s a simple premise, and with its monologue backed by somber piano music it is put together incredibly well, creating an ambience that makes me reflect on my own life, familial relationships, and the finite time we have together.

Now full disclosure here, I’m not really a fan of autobiographical works, even those of my idols, so obviously I came into this filled with trepidation. Something I’m happy to say, this podcast well and truly smashed. Perhaps it’s because Aidan is just your average guy on the street, not some Hollywood heartthrob or sporting hero that we hold in high esteem, that this story shines for me. Maybe the reason this story is so heartwarming is because it truly shows that all lives matter.

Episode 1 is entitled ‘Home Base’ and runs for just over half an hour.

In this episode Aidan takes us back to August 1997 when he was a wee lad of 16, when the times, as Bob Dylan so aptly wrote, they were a changing, and a young Aidan was having the time of his life. But this was all about to change, for this date was a major turning point in life, not just for Aidan personally, but for Billions of people around the globe.

As far as the content of this first episode goes, I’m going to leave it there. I have no intention of spoiling this story for you. Suffice it for me to say that this episode is not only well written and produced, it also humbles me how candid and self-effacing one human being can be about their own problems, flaws, and limitations. For me that’s worth the price of admission alone.

Q. I assume that the following episodes will be of life changing moments that are as candid and as self-effacing, so with that in mind, how hard was it for you to not only think on these matters, but to actually break them down, and lay them out for the world to see, and how cathartic was the process?

“Yes they all are very heart-on-sleeve, I would not be able to do any other way. In some ways it has been cathartic to go back to these times, maybe even a bit like therapy for me, but because its all my own life I own it 100% there’s no fiction or worry about how things might end, its reflective and honest and when it’s all done I will be proud to know that’s out there and not just in the backseat of my mind.”

“Not all of the episodes are linked to moments in everybody else’s life, 4 or 5 of them are, some of the dates everybody will know. some of the days are about moments in time and events from my own life story, all true but with some little changes to protect people close to me.”

Q. What do you hope your audience, (and yourself) will take away from this endeavor? Here you are talking about the moment you decided to stop using drugs and become more supportive of your dying mother? Does your mother, and other family members feature in other episodes?

“Yes my family feature more in other episodes, and yes my mother’s death and the time I spent looking after comes back, but I did not just stop getting waisted. The other shows focus in on the human condition of loss and living with grief, but also finding new things, and new ways to run away or transform into something else. I was only 16 in the episode Homebase, as I write this I am now 37, so plenty of time for more missadventures.”

“As for what people might get from it…. It’s just me saying hello to the world, and sharing my story, I guess I want people to like it, maybe relate to it.. I don’t think it will appeal to everyone, and not chasing anything… of course I want as many people to listen to as possible but honestly it sounds cheesy but it’s true, if just a few people listen to it and relate to it that’s fine with me.”

Q. So how are you feeling now that your first show is about to launch?

“I guess I feel a bit insecure. I’m not a pro and I am learning my craft as I go. I have one little mic and a shitty old laptop, so when I listen back to my shows I think, “it’s not as good as the shows I love” but then I think ‘Hell’ the whole thing came from one little thought, it doesn’t have to be perfect as long as it’s good enough for me that’ll do!”

I know how that feels, my first ever attempt is almost ¾’s broadcast, and even though I’ve had lots of praise, I still feel queasy when an episode is released, and I am poised to run through it all again so that I can reassess and learn all there is about my writing.

“The last thing I would say is that the show does not follow a solid timeline, so sometimes I might overlap or go backwards then forwards, I kinda like that it’s a bit blurry and rough.”

I wish you all the best with your show Aidan, I’m looking forward to listening to more days of your life in the near future.

If you wish to catch this show, then you can do so wherever you listen to your regular playlist, and episode one ‘HomeBase’ dropped on April 3rd 2019.


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SCP ARCHIVES

SCP-078 is a darkened stairwell located on an undisclosed college campus that contains two very disturbing anomalies. The fact that the stairwell itself appears to be endless is disconcerting enough, but the anomalies contained within are enough to scare even the bravest of souls.

SCP ARCHIVES

by Dōhai

Secure. Contain. Protect.

Episode 1. Released Tuesday 19th March 2019.

SCP-078 is a darkened stairwell located on an undisclosed college campus that contains two very disturbing anomalies. The fact that the stairwell itself appears to be endless is disconcerting enough, but the anomalies contained within are enough to scare even the bravest of souls.

Episode 1 of SCP Archives brings this scary tale brings to life and it’s just one of the thousands (and I do mean thousands) of files found on scp-wiki.net that form the basis of the show.

Given the material, it probably comes as no shock to you that the people bringing this cornucopia of strange and obscure phenomena are the fine people at Bloody Disgusting Podcast Network, who have teamed up with Jon Grillz (Small Town Horror, Creepy) and Pacific S. Obadiah (Lake Clarity, Aftershocks, Enoch Saga).

Having listened without headpones (where the hell are they?) I just had to wake Pacific, (who says he “wasn’t asleep” but the drool on his keyboard says different) and ask him a few questions. Don’t worry, I gave him some time to get a coffee.

Who’s initial idea was it to bring these documents to life, and on what basis have you chosen files to use?

Jon’s actually! He reached out sometime around last summer and mentioned his idea, and I was on board, but at the time I was working on two other shows, so I kinda put the idea on the back burner, until I saw some stray comment on r/Audiodrama (A reddit board for audio dramas) asking about an SCP podcast. I messaged Jon, and we got to work.

Right now, we’re just going down the list of most popular stories of all time on http://www.scp-wiki.com. Only rule is the story must have at least one addendum (like an interview, field notes, tests, etc). Popular stories without addendums are going on our Patreon for now!

How many stories have you chosen to cover for a first season, or are you planning to continue indefinitely? If so, how many stories have you got in the can/ in various stages of production?

Technically our first season is 29 episodes – Which brings us to October 1. Though we don’t really have any plans of stopping when we hit that. Those episodes have all been recorded, and the first 10 are in various stages of post production. I think once we hit 20 episodes, I’ll start working on new episodes past October 1. I have some pretty fun plans for October!

How much artistic licence are you planning to use in regards these files? I notice the stairwell story stays pretty tight to the wiki file, but I can see the potential to take it further in the form of the “Data Expunged” Document 087-IV which could give it a whole new lease of life.

That’s one of the really cool things about working on a story that’s in the creative commons, we’re free to adapt and remix however we want! For this first “season” we want to stay pretty true to the wiki, a lot of our artistic license comes in the sound design and music. Though, Jon and I have definitely talked about doing some original content, whether that be an all new SCP, or expansion on previous lore, that’s still under wraps- For now. We have a few little experiments you’ll see within our first season, and if they work out well, even more in the future!

Do any of the team plan on writing their own SCP stories, either for the show or the SCP wiki? More importantly (my lips are sealed if they need to be) will there be an underlying story that will slowly reveal itself?

None of us have ever written SCPs, but I’ve been reading the wiki since I was pretty young! While there won’t be a very overt overarching story in the first season, it’s important to know that our “Narrator” is a character in this world, and he has his own reasons for doing what he does, his own approaches to things, and while a lot of these entries will be things that have been secured, he exists in the present and is still working.

Well if that’s not a little cryptic nugget that will stir a little excitement then I don’t know what is. A huge thanks to Pacific, who’s now run off to one of his finals so the only thing left to do is wish him and the rest of the crew the best of luck with this new show (and his exams)!

You can check out the show on your usual applications, or at any of the show links above. Enjoy!


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The History of Radio Drama 2

At the end of the 19th century, Marconi had been granted a patent for his wireless telecommunication system. Progress on his system was quite slow to start, with only a little amateur and commercial broadcasting taking it up. But with America joining World War One however, these stations were ordered to shut down or were taken over by the government. In fact for the duration of the Great War it was illegal for any US citizen to own a radio transmitter.

In my last post, I discussed the original audio drama system, and huge hit, the Théâtrophone. Bringing live shows and opera into the homes of people, for a small additional fee, via the telephone system… (sound familiar?)

At the end of the 19th century, Marconi had been granted a patent for his wireless telecommunication system. Progress on his system was quite slow to start, with only a little amateur and commercial broadcasting taking it up. But with America joining World War One however, these stations were ordered to shut down or were taken over by the government. In fact for the duration of the Great War it was illegal for any US citizen to own a radio transmitter.

Large government investment accelerated its development and production for military communications in the field to great effect.

Immediately after the war and the lifting of restrictions, the US saw a rise in amateur broadcasting and listening, mainly in peer to peer circles talking about the advances in radio transmission such as the all new thermionic vacuum tube, the invention of which in 1904 revolutionised radio, television, telecommunications, and computing.

Within two years, radio sets, or ‘Radio Telephones’ as they were known then, were commonplace, and commercial radio broadcasting quickly became the preferred choice for news and entertainment. This left the Théâtrophone floundering on the riverbank of entertainment, and obsolete within a decade.

recording a radio play​​

Commonly given the title of first ever English speaking audio drama, was a program called ‘A Rural Line in Education’. This small sketch was aired in 1921, on Newsradio 1020 KDKA from Pittsburgh.

The sketch featured the sound effects of a phone ringing, and a brief conversation between two farmers occasionally interrupted by a switchboard operator.

According to radio historian Bill Jaker, the station didn’t want them to use the telephone sound effects, because they thought it would ‘defraud the audience into thinking they were listening to a phone call, and not a radio program’.

Soon after KYW, another Westinghouse Electric Corporation station, this time in Chicago, broadcast a season of opera. The Chicago Tribune boasted ‘50,000 listen to opera, transmitted over 1,500 miles’.

Ed Wynn ‘The Perfect Fool’​​

In February of 1922, the company playing the musical comedy ‘Tangerine’ on Broadway, headed out to the Westinghouse’s Newark radio station, WJZ, and test broadcast to ‘1 million listeners across America’.

A week later WJZ broadcast Ed Wynn’s Broadway show ‘The Perfect Fool’ in its entirety, across America. Radio stations all over stopped broadcasting their own shows to help boost the signal if the weather was bad.

Radio entertainment had sparked the people’s imagination, and soon radio stations were broadcasting operas, musicals, and plays right across the globe, as we will discover in the next post.

This brand new medium was not without its naysayers however. Talk of ‘destroying theatre’, and vaudeville managers creating contracts that forbade actors from taking part in radio programs, gives us a glimpse into how the wireless telephone was shaking the foundations of the arts.


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What’s the Frequency?

If weird psychedelic noir is your thing, or you haven’t experienced it before, then put down the bug powder, shoot your wife in the head, and take a hit of the motherload!

Words?

words Words

Words words words words words, words, words, words words. Words words words words words, words words words, words words words words.

Words, words words words words, words? WORDSSSSS!! sdrowsdrowsdrowsdrowsdrow¿

Words. words

Words words owrds words, words srowd drows swrod, sword!

*Insert cigarette commercial*

What’s The Frequency? is like yeast extract, you’ll either love it or hate it. It is dark, it is frightening, and it makes you feel very uncomfortable… very often! It prods a boney finger in your chest asking over and over again, ‘What’s The Frequency?’ What IS the Frequency? WHAT’S THE FREQUENCY?

As I say, you’ll either love it or hate it. For a point of reference, let’s compare it to Twin Peaks. If you are one of the latter then this show is most probably not for you. In fact I would just forget what you’ve seen here and be on your merry way. For those of you that conform to the ‘like’ category, I would ask “how much do you like it?” because to be fair the analogy I’m using here is a little off, because What’s The Frequency? is more akin to Lynch’s first work, ‘Eraserhead’. Twin Peaks was a jolly jaunt through a strange town whilst high on marijuana, where ‘Eraserhead’ is more akin to being trapped in the infinite loop of a nightmarish heroin overdose.

From the start, this show goes straight for the jugular. No setting up of pretense here.

What starts as a struggle between the mob, the police, and a private investigator over a ledger providing proof of police bribery, soon escalates into something darker, more esoteric. A struggle for a power that doesn’t belong in the hands of mere mortals, yet here they are, fighting over said power. As far as the plot goes, that’s all you’re going to get from me. I wouldn’t want to spoil your tumble down this kaleidoscopic rabbit hole, so let’s move on to the style.

Imagine listening to a 1940’s private eye radio drama complete with commercials, as it was back in the day. If you’ve explored these ancient recordings to any degree then you will instantly recognise the format, although the adverts here are wonderfully sarcastic. Now imagine a reel-to-reel recording sent, accidentally of course, to the home of William S. Burroughs, who took a machete to it, mailed it to his future ghost-self, who then reassembled it with a nail gun, and attempted to play it on an mp3 player. The result, a terrifying version of words that pays homage to the radio shows of the era, and the Beat Generation. With a tongue pushed firmly into its cheek, and syringes still dangling from it’s pockmarked arms, it not only serves as a reflection of the era, but gives it a 21st century kick in the…

Most of the time it’s a perfect balance between the delivery of the story and the craziness that punctuates it, but there are a few occasions when the train just can’t seem to get back on the rails to conclude an episode, leaving me to drift off into disappointment. It’s like the darkness has taken over. The handy jolt that brings you back out of the hole to reveal the conclusion in the stalled plot has been forever lost, and you’re left spiraling the plughole until the end of the episode. I must say I’m glad that I waited until the first season was released before listening, because with a month between episodes, I feel I would have given up on it, and to give up on this story would be unforgivable.

WTF? has picked up a slew of awards from the audio drama community, and rightly so. I have been waiting for someone to push the boundaries beyond the expected norms for a while now. Not to necessarily slap the listeners in the face as it were, (although they do), but rather to question the humdrum horror/ sci-fi/ comedy/ sitcom carousel of the indie drama world. I’m not saying the indie drama scene is lacking excitement, there are plenty of amazing shows to be found in these genres, but it feels to me that rather than creating something new and exciting, many new artists out there are just using the tried and tested templates and riding the coattails, rather than striding out on their own path; and if you want to get noticed in this fast growing medium, this is something you are going to need to do.

The acting here is great on all sides, although the casting of Karim Kronfli as Walter Mix seems a little odd to me. A 1940’s PI in LA this voice is not, I would say he’s more suited to a Sherlock Holmes or a Dick Barton than a Sam Spade or Philip Marlow. It’s not enough to take me out of the story, and the dynamic between Troubles and Whit is brilliant as you would expect from these veterans, but it’s just a little niggle, a little itch behind the ear that gets the occasional subconscious scratch.

Kudos to Oliva, Danner, and the rest of the team for this refreshing piece of art. I’m looking forward to more.

If weird psychedelic noir is your thing, or you haven’t experienced it before, then put down the bug powder, shoot your wife in the head, and take a hit of the motherload!

Stocking Fillers

Unwind with some amazing yuletide specials from your favorite podcasts!

Stocking Fillers

by Dōhai

It’s that hectic time of year again where all you seem to be doing is running around like a headless turkey looking for those last minute gift ideas for your in-laws. So do yourself a favor… stop.

Take in a deep breath…

Slowly release…

Now put in your earbuds, and let these festive Christmas specials carry you away from all that stress.

Pop into the nearest department store and get them a food hamper full of preserves and a bottle of Prosecco. Job done.


Please feel free to add your favorite Christmas specials in the comments below if it’s not there already for all to enjoy!

We here at Podern Times hope you all have a joyous and peaceful Christmas and wish you all the best for 2019.

The Parsec Awards

So the winners have been announced…

And then there was talk of an award being rescinded, due to “an uncomfortably high amount of emails” regarding one of the recipients and their behavior within the audio drama community.

A letter from the editor:

So the winners have been announced!

And then there was talk of an award being rescinded, due to “an uncomfortably high amount of emails” regarding one of the recipients and their behavior within the audio drama community.

Then of course the Parsec committee decided the award would stand as their task is to judge only the work presented.

This of course led to many in the community to sound out their grievances on social media.

A post from the admin of the Audio Drama Production Podcast Facebook community page explained that they had cause to remove this person from the group in the summer due to his “vitriolic” conduct towards other members of the group.

The person at the sharp end of all this commotion is Edward Champion (The Grey Area), and this is not the first time these charges have been issued.

First in the literary community some years ago, and now here in the audio drama community, many have come forward to give accounts of their dealings with him.

I have personally been witness to quite a lot of his vitriol: I have seen unsolicited emails telling the recipient they should go and seek professional help, as clearly their attitude doesn’t conform with societal norms; I have been sent screenshots of  Facebook and Twitter posts (that have then been rescinded) that use phrases even Donald Trump would blush at; I have heard threats of physical violence at podcast conferences, stalking and intimidation of creators AND their families, and some seriously heinous name calling just because a post wasn’t retweeted! All of this mounting up over the last twelve to eighteen months.

Not only are the community finally calling time on his behavior, but many are also looking to the arguable failings of the Parsec Awards. In their defense, it is made up of volunteers, but there are a number of basic checks and balances that need to be addressed here.

The following is an op-ed from a member of the audio drama community that felt compelled to step up and tell his story, as well as others that came forward in his support. They do so with a calmness that belies the gravity of the issue, something I would not afford it.


#NotMyChampion

If you closely follow the Audio Drama industry, this week has had some surprises. On December 16 The Parsec Awards Committee sent out an email listing their 2018 winners, a little more than 24 hours later they sent a second email stating that they’re deliberating on rescinding an award from a creator, and on December 19 the committee sent a third email stating that they will honor the original recipients and no award will be rescinded.

In the third email, the Award Committee stated:

It is the goal of The Parsecs to judge solely on the merit of the content and not on gender, heritage, religious belief, sexual orientation, politics, or other factors not in the podcast as presented to the audience.”

It didn’t take long for members of the audio drama industry to take to Twitter voicing their concern, and opposition for Parsec’s choice.

In defense of the award committee, they stated quite openly that they’ve never had to handle a situation like this before, and while many will be quick to anger, this seems like an opportune time to educate the audio drama industry as a whole to the repeated actions of a toxic creator. The purpose of this essay isn’t to shame the Parsec Committee, but rather to inform them of the scope of one individual’s harmful actions, and ensure that this creator isn’t able to abuse or harass others in the future.

Before I continue, I’d like to be upfront about a few things. First, this essay is to inform other creators and members of the Audio Drama Industry of the events that have transpired over the course of the last years, and the potential danger of letting these actions go unchecked. Second, I’ve been attacked by the individual in question in the past (I go in detail about this further into the essay). Lastly, I’ve included the accounts of other creators who interacted with the person, some of these accounts will have names tied to them, others will be anonymous as per their wishes.

Finally, before I dive in, I’ve been grappling with how to open this story, or how to begin, and even if I should attach my name to this piece or write under a pseudonym. I might receive flack for this piece, it could be deemed unprofessional and slanderous, it could really come back and hurt me and my loved ones. The person I’m writing about has attacked me in the past, and come after many of my friends and fellow creators. I was on the fence, but after discovering how many people have been attacked, and seeing Parsec’s decision, I’ve decided this story is necessary. I’ve decided the best approach is to speak honestly, and publicly.

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Pacific Obadiah. I’m a college student and in my free time, I make audio dramas. I’ve been creating audio dramas for almost three years now, with friends I met on my university campus, and fellow creators I met in the audio drama community.

A close friend of mine was excited to see the new Parsec Awards Winners, but when they saw Ed Champion’s name on the list, they knew they had to write to Parsec and inform the committee of the unprofessional manner Champion had interacted with them. My friend then reached out to another person who he knew had negative interactions with Champion, it wasn’t long until several people, myself included, had emailed Parsec expressing their concern over Champion’s award.

Shortly thereafter, a discussion was sparked in a forum for audio drama creators. It was here that I found a surprisingly high number of creators had very negative encounters with Champion.

I first talked with Travis Vengroff about his experience with the award winner. Full disclaimer, Vengroff was nominated in the same category as Champion. Vengroff first met Champion when he put out an all-call for the second season of his show Liberty: Critical Research. Vengroff remarked that

“There was one actor in particular who was a perfect fit for a couple of parts. His name was Ed Champion, and he had a chicken in his recording studio, which I thought was pretty funny ‘cause in some of the outtakes with him he tells his chicken to shut up, which was really ridiculous and funny.”

While things started off well, this didn’t last.

A while after Vengroff and Champion met, Champion launched his own podcast, around the same time Vengroff’s wife, Kaitlin Statz, launched a social media campaign, #ADPodBingo. The purpose of #ADPodBingo was to promote audio drama shows within similar genres, such as Sci-Fi, Horror, or Fantasy. The first few boards became pretty popular, and creators began reaching out to Statz requesting to be on the next board. Champion’s was one of the many requests.

Champion first requested to be apart of the ADPodBingo before his show had launched, having only released the first trailer. Statz decided to focus on shows with released episodes and didn’t include Champion on the next board. A month later the couple released a Sci-Fi themed board, and received a letter from Champion expressing his resentment about not being included on the Sci-Fi board, even though the couple believed Champion’s show (now with only the first episode released) didn’t fall into the Sci-Fi category.

The next board followed another genre, and Champion’s show wasn’t included because his show didn’t fit that genre either. As Travis put it

“Every [board] we did, his show did not meet the genre, and he was upset he was not in it, and eventually he blew up into this Twitter rant about how horrible Kaitlin was, which was upsetting to me, because she’s my wife, and she’s literally done nothing to the guy. [Champion] blew up further and sent [Kaitlin] a really mean-spirited message on Facebook.”

Vengroff messaged Champion and explained to him why he wasn’t included on any of the ADPodBingo boards so far, and despite Champion’s decorum, and attack on Statz, Vengroff tried to clear the air. Everything seemed to be okay until a few weeks later: Champion sent Vengroff a Facebook message, upset that he wasn’t included on another ADPodBingo; This caused Vengroff to block Champion, and later, pushed Vengroff to scrap recordings Champion had created, and recast multiple roles he’d already edited into a then-unreleased podcast.

Similarly, another creator, Lauren Nelson, had a negative interaction with Champion. Nelson first worked with Champion on a side project that later fell to the wayside. Though her interactions with Champion left a bad taste in her mouth, Nelson remarked

“Initially, I wrote off [his] strange behavior as a given when you’re working with creatives. But he was overly familiar, and I should have known better. Knowing more about his history now, I cringe at the memory of sharing personal details with him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he used them against me eventually.”

Nelson likely would have moved on from the whole situation, until the recent series of emails she received from Parsec, and seeing other creators discuss Champion’s actions. Nelson felt moved to take action. As she put it

“I take great pride in crafting a strong female character, and there’s no world in which Addison [The protagonist of Nelson’s show] would approve of me giving someone like Ed a broader platform. I cut ties and made a public apology for not better researching my cast.”

Nelson posted on Facebook, talking about the choice she made to not work with someone who has abused people in the past, and it wasn’t long until Champion messaged her.  

“The reaction was swift. Though I had already planned to write [Champion] out of the show, he sent a threatening email about using his voice. The threats were baseless, but intimidation was the point. I also received a string of text messages, one of which said I was “pure evil.” No idea what will come next.”

Nelson hopes that by speaking out, she’ll save others from Champion’s, and other toxic creators harmful messages.

“I’m hoping that breaking the silence helps others make more informed decisions, and helps keep a community that matters greatly to me a lot safer.”

My own experience with Champion is quite similar to the two aforementioned incidents. Not long ago I was a member of an independent audio drama network, FateCrafters. We were a small and tight-knit group of creators who promoted one another and often collaborated. From time to time, we would open our network to prospective shows looking to join, and during one of our open application seasons, Champion applied to our network.

While my NDA restricts me from talking too much about our process of approving or denying shows, Champion’s show was voted on, and rejected. Shortly after being notified of his rejection, Champion took to Facebook and on both his personal and a group page (both posts are now deleted), he spoke negatively about our network. While I had never had more than brief, and wholly positive interactions with Champion up until this point, after seeing his posts putting down our network, I made the decision to personally stop retweeting Champion’s posts.

Champion reached out to me, asking if I was “… carrying out a FateCrafters omerta against me.” I responded honestly, informing Champion that I did decide to be less vocal in my support of his show after his negative posts, to which Champion responded with a tirade comparing me to a Klansman. For those interested, I’ve included screenshots of our short interaction.

Ed’s first message
Ed’s second message

While my interaction was quite mild (and trust me, this is comparatively mild), not everyone was so lucky.

What perturbed me most was the scrutiny Champion put on our social media interactions. #AudioDramaSunday is a popular hashtag that many fans and creators use on a weekly basis to discover new shows, and it was over the course of a few short weeks that Champion paid close attention to if and how I was interacting with his every post before deciding to confront me, and as I learned, many other creators.

Jeff Van Dreason and Alexander Danner told me of their experience with Champion. They said Champion had messaged them, stating that he noticed they usually liked any post that mentioned their show, but not the posts Champion made. Then Danner said it was like Champion was…

“… counting our Twitter likes to track whether we were paying attention to him or not. I think that was the thing that set him off–we never liked his tweets.”

One day, Van Dreason was commenting on a post in a public forum, and Champion lashed out, claiming Van Dreason never heard his side of the story- It’s worth noting, the original discussion had nothing to do with Champion. Van Dreason decided not to engage. A while later Champion sent a long letter to the creators, Danner said:

“It was like the sort of thing you might send to a former friend who you’d had a bad falling out with if you wanted to salvage the relationship without actually admitting you did anything wrong.”

Van Dreason felt similarly, stating:

His demeanor was as if we were super close friends who had suddenly ghosted him, which of course wasn’t the case. I’m not sure I’d even call him an acquaintance. We spoke very little before all of this, which made the way he was acting out even stranger to us.

Some of these interactions do reach past the screen: one creator told me they opted not to attend a live community event that he had bought plane tickets for after he learned that Champion was going to be in attendance.

I’ve only provided the accounts of a handful of people, but there are many more that Champion has gone after and harassed for matters big and small, or perhaps just because he felt like it. I hope that by publishing this essay, more will stand up and allow their voices to be heard, to hold Champion accountable for his actions. It’s not too late to improve, Ed, but there’s no way you can continue down this road.

It seems Champion feels entitled to the audio drama community as if he deserves the likes, the promotion, and the work. Yet those creators Champion has worked with haven’t been given the respect or professionalism, they deserve. I worry that Champion’s recent laurels will open more opportunities for him, which will lead to his continued harassing of those in this growing industry.

I urge the Parsec Award Committee to put a policy in place to prevent abusers from receiving their award in the future.

Pacific S. Obadiah


Since editing this article, dozens from the audio drama community have taken to social media to publicly announce their stories of harassment, and their regret at not coming forward sooner, including one of the voluntary judges for the Parsec Awards.

This community is a bastion for inclusion, and a powerhouse for social justice. One can only hope that this boil, in it’s relatively young existence doesn’t need lancing again.

The History of Audio Drama

This series takes a look at the history and people that shaped the face of audio drama. In this, the first article we look at the Theatrophone, the first ever stereo broadcast.

The History of Audio Drama

By Dōhai

My flux capacitor finally arrived last week, and now that I have finished calibrating and fitting it to the DeLorean, that can only mean one thing. It’s about time we took a trip into the past to look at the History of Audio Drama.

640px-TeamTimeCar.com-BTTF_DeLorean_Time_Machine-OtoGodfrey.com-JMortonPhoto.com-04​​

By JMortonPhoto.com & OtoGodfrey.com, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44599380

 

Before we zoom off into the annals of time, let me give you a little bit of an outline, so that you know what to expect from this series.

There is more than enough material for us to wade through regarding its rich history; one could not only write a book but probably a whole shelf full of tomes, should time and inclination not be heavily weighing factors in any writers life. Who knows, maybe in the future? But for now I plan on keeping it light and entertaining, factual and to the point.

Consider it a fun little road trip down this historical highway.

The plan is to give you a general idea of the evolution of audio drama, and bring you links to some of the landmark shows of the past, for your listening pleasure. So strap yourself in, because eventually the DeLorean WILL reach the required 88 mph, even if I have to Thelma and Louise this bad boy off a cliff!

 

Le Théâtrophone, an 1896 lithograph from the Lès Maître de L’Affiches series by Jules ChéretLe Théâtrophone, an 1896 lithograph from the Lès Maître de L’Affiches series by Jules Chéret. Credit: Wikipedia.

 

So where did it all begin?

It all began with Clément Ader (1841 – 1925) a French inventor and engineer, known mainly for his pioneering achievements in aviation. Before dedicating his life to flying however he studied electrical engineering where he improved Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone just two years after its invention, and then went on to set up a telephone network in Paris 1880.

A year later he presented his recent invention, what would later be dubbed the Théâtrophone, at the Paris World Expo of 1881. He had arranged 80 transmitters across the front of the stage at the Palais Garnier, and broadcast the opera, via telephone wires, to listeners at the expo some 2 km away. What was different than just listening to the opera via the telephone was the fact that listeners received a separate channel for each ear, thus this was the first ever binaural stereo transmission.

Within three years of this initial demonstration, experimental systems had been commissioned in Portugal and Belgium. Within a decade this system had been commercialized in France, there dubbed ‘Lé Théâtrophone’ (The Theatre Phone), and systems were beginning to pop up the length and breadth of Europe.

Word of this amazing technology had reached America, and in 1890 it’s first demonstration had been set up. Some 800 people in the Grand Union Hotel, Saratoga, listened to The Charge of the Light Brigade, conducted nearly 200 miles away at Madison Square Garden.

By the turn of the century, coin-op telephone receivers charging 50 centimes for five minutes listening could be found in hotels, clubs, and cafés all across France. Even home subscribers could enjoy listening to live plays and opera for a small patronage.

Zuhörer des Theatrophons an Münzapparaten, 1892​​Zuhörer des Theatrophons an Münzapparaten, 1892. Credit: Wikipedia

Riding the high life of entertainment, it all came crashing down for the Théâtrophone after 42 years, due to the rising popularity of wireless radio broadcasting and the phonograph. The Compagnie Du Théâtrophone stopped broadcasting in 1932. This was by no means the end of audio drama, oh no, this was merely the beginning.

 

 

In the next post we take a look at how The Great War put Marconi’s wireless telephone on the fast track into almost every home in the world.