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!

October 2017
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Episode 529: Fun and Fear Audio

Posted By on October 10, 2017

Tonight on the Sonic Society we begin our double-feature with Chatterbox Audio‘s “Marjorie and the Magic Words” by Robert Arnold, and finish with a tale of fright from Room 503 Productions with  “Just a Campfire Scare”.  Because, IT’S AUDIO DRAMA TIME!

A Great Light

Posted By on October 10, 2017

It is no secret that I have always loved Orson Welles. One of the great compliments I had was back in Teacher’s college when someone saw me on the stage and remarked later that I would take this compliment too far but I had indeed resembled the great man in her mind.

I was humbled. Of course, there never was, and never will be a man like him. This interview was said to be his last, and perhaps even on the day of his death. What charm. What panache. What a man. Here on the anniversary of his death we remark his passing. 32 Years without Welles.


Episode 528: Closing the Book on Ancestry

Posted By on October 3, 2017

Tonight we complete the epic fantasy Ancestry: Book One from Dayn Leonardson and Koach Studios! IT’S AUDIO DRAMA TIME.

Episode 527: Aural Ancestry

Posted By on September 26, 2017

Tonight we continue with part two of Koach Studios epic Ancestry: Book One from the mind of Dayn Leonardson! IT’S AUDIO DRAMA TIME.

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 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.


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 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


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: 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].


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.