The Sonic Society

Showcasing the very best in new Audio Drama

Welcome To The Sonic Society!

Each week Jack Ward and David Ault are pleased to showcase the very best Modern Audio Theatre (Radio Drama) from around the world. From the days of Old Time Radio in the early 20th century until the modern age of broadcasts, podcasts, and streaming simulcasts, audio plays are movies for the mind!

September 2017
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History in the Making

Posted By on September 23, 2017

Someone wise once said, ‘If your life is worth living, it’s worth writing down.”

I think similarly if your audio has value to you, it’s worth preserving. That’s why when Gregg Taylor of Decoder Ring Theatre said in one of our interviews that he’s been uploading his shows to archive.org it made me consider that it’s probably time to do the same with the Sonic Society. It’s a large process to go back and even upload Season 12, but that’s been accomplished. We’ll go backwards and fill in the last couple years for sure.

There’s untold generations that should have a real understanding where and who started this amazing movement- the modern audio drama medium. And we’ve had front row seats in the past decade. Thank you everyone for your encouragement through the years!

 

Sonic Echo 201: Finger of God

Posted By on September 21, 2017

And the Amigos are back and this time it’s with yet another classic and original OTR show “The Finger of God” from a Columbia Workshop production of Percival Wilde‘s adapted play.

Podphones

Posted By on September 20, 2017

The Pulse considers What We Listen to on Our Phones:

Jenn Webster considers how podcasts have leaped from the fringes to the mainstream in this piece.

Chattanooga’s podcasting—and whether you like noir radio drama, current events or geeky fandom, there’s likely local-focused audio out there for you. If you want to keep up with urban development and education politics, check out The Camp House. 

The church/coffeehouse/meeting place offers a weekly long-form deep dive into community events at thecamphouse.simplecast.fm. Last week, they scored an interview with new Hamilton County Schools superintendent Bryan Johnson, Ed.D.

Like sports? The Chattanooga Football Club podcasts about all things CFC during the season (looks like they’ve been on hiatus a few weeks now). Or if you’re god(s)-fearing, it seems like almost every church in town has a podcast, from professional productions to simple playbacks of services.

A podcast is simply a digital audio program available as a download file; some podcasts are conceived and produced specifically for download, while others have a dual purpose as live audio on radio or another medium. More and more, radio programs are drawing listeners who visit their websites to download and listen to shows on their own schedules. 

This is especially true with long-form audio or shows that air in installments, such as stories with multiple segments.

Tales of the City

One such tale WUTC’s “Operation Song” series, covering the Nashville-based nonprofit of the same name, which is dedicated to supporting veterans through songwriting. Featured on Around and About Chattanooga, the stories were popular radio broadcasts, but, as a series of downloads, spin a larger saga.

Listening to a segment of the Memorial Day special, I hear a choir singing, a woman speaking about the death of her husband in the Chattanooga terrorist attack, and different takes, from rough to finished, of the commemorative song “Chattanooga Rain.” The listener is immersed in the music and raw emotion. Around and About’s news director and executive producer Michael Edward Miller’s voice appears late and infrequently.

“I was there during the [song-writing process], so I have different versions,” Michael says. “Like any writing process, you make a way-too-long first draft, and then you play it for people, get guidance on what to cut out and rearrange, and then get guidance from more people, and just slowly winnow it down into something that makes sense without narration, and that flows logically and can tell the entire story without having to have somebody there to literally tell the story. 

“And that is by far the most difficult kind of audio thing to do. Even with TV or film or documentary, you can do a lot with images…trying to do something like that without any narration…if you didn’t get the right sound bite you just have to figure out what you can do.”

To make that happen—an audio story told largely without a narrator—Michael draws on exhaustive on-the-ground research. Once interviews and sound files are collected, he creates a story just like a writer would.

Michael notes that podcasting is a continuum from amateur to professional. Around and About is designed as a radio program that’s also a podcast, but there are many similarities with home podcasters, such as delivery method. On the other hand, WUTC’s podcasts stay broad in topic rather than appealing a niche market, as would be more common for a hobbyist.

In another difference from live broadcast, a podcast’s biggest audience is at the beginning of a file, Michael says. People leave if they’re bored.

“Radio is much less linear,” he says. “People are tuning in and out all the time. You can never know for sure at what point in a radio story the most people are going to be listening. So, particularly in a long-form interview, you have to be careful to constantly re-introduce the subject and, for a feature piece, to produce it in a way that it still makes sense if somebody only caught the last half of it.”

Read More…

Episode 526: Audio Ancestors

Posted By on September 19, 2017

Tonight we begin part one of Dayn Leonardson’s fantasy epic Ancestry: Book One from Koach Studios! IT’S AUDIO DRAMA TIME.

Theater review: Coach House opens 90th season with vintage Christie radio dramas

Posted By on September 19, 2017

From Ohio.com:

Coming next: Radio drama Butter in a Lordly Dish

Where: Coach House Theatre at the Akron Woman’s City Club, 732 W. Exchange St.

When: 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 1 p.m. matinee Sept. 23

Cost: $10 for show only, $35 for dinner and show

Information: www.coachhousetheatre.com/shows/118/ for Brown Paper Tickets order or call 330-434-7741

The live Agatha Christie radio play Yellow Iris made for a fun vintage evening as the drama played out in the elegant, wood-paneled ballroom of the Akron Woman’s City Club on Thursday night.

Yellow Iris was the second of three radio plays to be performed live over three weeks to open the 90th season for Coach House Theatre. The plays, directed by three young female directors, are classic 1940s BBC radio mysteries that were believed to have been lost.

Coach House now has the distinction of being the first nonprofit theater in the world to present the three plays, together called Murder in the Studio. And it’s the second theater, after a professional 2013 production in Clearwater, Fla., to perform the scripts live since their rediscovery in the archives of a London library.

The beautiful ballroom setting is a nice change of pace for the performances, which can be coupled with dinner or seen on a show-only basis. New artistic director JT Buck’s goal is to strengthen the partnership between the community theater and its parent organization, the Akron Woman’s City Club, as well as celebrate a longstanding tradition of producing Christie plays at the theater.

On Thursday night, those who came for the show only had some awkward seating choices, with chairs lined up against the side walls of the ballroom and dining tables in the middle. That left some obstructed seating and some hovering behind dining tables. Open tables left in the ballroom provided much more comfortable seating with good sight lines.

Yellow Iris, directed by Francine Parr of Akron’s Millennial Theatre Project, featured five actors bringing to life an enjoyable murder mystery with detective Hercule Poirot. The actors, dressed in vintage-looking skirts, jackets, suits and hats, walked around and mingled with the diners a bit before the show’s start.

One of the beauties of presenting a radio show, in this case, was that middle-aged actresses could portray young women. They included Michele McNeal as the sultry, deep-voiced Peruvian dancer Senora Valdez and Cathy Csanyi as the 20-year-old Pauline Weatherby.

Joining them were Ryan Dyke as Poirot, a strong actor with a good French accent; Molly Clay playing a waiter and Tony; and Luke Ehlert as party host Barton as well as his friend, Carter. The actors held their scripts and spoke into a stand-up microphone just as they would have in a 1940s radio show.

In this story, the American Barton has arranged a dinner party at the hotel Jardin des Cygnes under mysterious circumstances. A woman calls Poirot in distress and asks him to come help her, but doesn’t identify herself.

Detective Poirot shows up determined to get to the bottom of things, and with his sixth sense, starts sniffing out clues. The tension mounts heading into what appears to be a re-enactment of a tragic event four years earlier.

Most of the five actors created distinct characterizations, but it was at times difficult to determine whether Ehlert was delivering the lines of Barton or Carter, which created a temporary disconnect following the story elements. Csanyi also was guilty of speaking with unnatural-sounding inflection and sounding artificial when her character Pauline was distressed.

Adding to the old-fashioned ambience were Chalker Conrad’s live radio sound effects, including a ringing bell, phone and some drums. And Buck himself played the grand piano and sang a bit during lovely musical interludes.

Buck has created a fun concept, kicking off the season in this style at the club, starting with Miranda Dolson’s direction of Personal Call last weekend. The run will wrap up Thursday through Sept. 23 with the third radio drama, Butter in a Lordly Dish, directed by Rosilyn Jentner. In this story, prosecution barrister Sir Luke Enderby gets his comeuppance in gruesome Christie murder.

Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or [email protected].

AI AD

Posted By on September 15, 2017

The BBC is taking a step back to make a splash in the audio drama world. Check out this article in The Verge about new interactive audio dramas:

The BBC is known for producing radio plays, but the format is about to get a high-tech twist: a new experiment by the broadcasting company will turn traditional audio dramas into interactive stories.

One new radio play — a comedy / science fiction story titled The Inspection Chamber — will work similarly to a choose your own adventure book or game. Listeners will hear a chunk of the story, and then be presented with a choice of what should happen next. It was developed by the BBC’s R&D division, which worked with an audio company called Rosina Sound. The piece is said to take inspiration from games like The Stanley Parable and Papa Sangre, especially in terms of exploring new ways to offer interactive fiction. You can listen to some of it now over at the BBC’s R&D blog.

The BBC says it has developed a “story engine” that makes it easy to release the same story on multiple platforms, so The Inspection Chamber will be available on both Amazon Alexa and Google Home devices when it releases later this year. The company is also exploring the possibility of expanding to Cortana smart speakers or Apple’s HomePod when those devices are released.

 

Episode 525: Bell Organic Audio

Posted By on September 12, 2017

Tonight in a double-feature we present a lovely little panel discussion from Bell’s in the Batfry #172 and the inventive new audio drama parts one and two from Tom Parsons “Organism“.

Futuredrama

Posted By on September 9, 2017

FUTURAMA, Leela, Bender, Fry, 1999-present. TM and Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.

If you’re a huge fan of Futurama and of course we already know you’re a fan of audio drama you’re in for a massive treat. The iconic cartoon from Matt Groaning and David X. Cohen is returning! For a single episode on The Nerdist Podcast Frye, Bender, Leela, the Professor, Zoidberg, Amy, Hermes and the gang will all be coming back into the world of audio! Entertainment Weekly gives us all the details of the incredible return with a forty minute audio extravaganza on September 14th! Set your time capsules for the future! Heck, you don’t even need to wait until New Year’s Eve!

A Great Light is Going Out

Posted By on September 8, 2017

When you’ve been in the audio world as long as we have, you’re used to seeing podfaded shows.

Many excited groups get revved up for a season, sometimes only a few episodes, and then go dark as life, interest, and various other factors get in the way. Audio Drama is not a game for the weak-hearted. It takes a lot of determination to produce regularly, and send your creativity out to a distant crowd. I’ve set many a local actor’s heart a flutter when I’ve told them the number of listeners are hearing their characters. Compared to the little theatres of Halifax, which have a large crowd at 50 or 70 people, it’s exciting to think of thousands of engaged fans.

But it’s also really lonely. You probably won’t hear from 99% of the people out in the RSS void. Only a few listeners will email to tell you if you’re doing well, and worse still most won’t bother telling you if they’ve left the feed. Live theatre on the other hand is instant praise or criticism. The stage is immediate and engaging and I get that.

As I’ve said, we’ve seen people come and go here at the Sonic Society, but there were always a few columns in the audio drama coliseum we could lean against. Giants, that are some of the great innovators of the modern audio dramatic landscape. Bob Arnold and Chatterbox Audio Theater, by any measure are examples of great innovators. For years, I’ve used some  of Chatterbox’s promotional youtube clips in my classrooms to titillate the next generation of students. Chatterbox Audio captivates audiences with their retelling of classic tales, and their new productions that grip the imagination timelessly.

Chatterbox is shutting down.

I can’t even say that out loud without stifling a sob. I’ve never met Bob. I’ve never knowingly run into any of the Chatterbox folk, but I feel very privileged to know their work. Bob and I have exchanged many emails through the years. It was my honour to write Tulpa for a Chatterbox Halloween Season. Their performance of that script still takes my breath away.

Chatterbox is shutting down.

I’ve always had a secret dream to go visit their studio when they’re performing- maybe even take a minor role among the hallowed ranks, and bring to life a classic. Maybe “The Cherry Orchard” or “The Tales of Perseus”. Maybe a sequel to their triumphant “Surfacing”. Maybe a lost short story of Ray Bradbury’s. The possibilities are enticing.

Chatterbox is shutting down.

I leave the last words on the subject to Bob Arnold and his heartbreaking post Dimming the Lights, I need to go and download their entire catalogue again. I don’t have the fortitude yet to say adieu.

Episode 524: Living in Perrogatory

Posted By on September 5, 2017

In the premiere of Season 13 Jack and David present Narada Radio Company‘s “The King’s Prerogative” by Mike Murphy and Pete Lutz.