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!

December 2018
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The Immortal Jack Johnstone

Posted By on December 6, 2018

As we gain deeper insight into the producers, writers, and sound engineers that brought us some of the powerful shows of the past, in our ongoing attempt to understand this medium we look at this little clip of the great director/producer Jack Johnstone talking about live radio drama and specifically how a flub was handled on Superman!

Episode 580- Dark Room Tone

Posted By on December 4, 2018

Tonight on the Sonic Society, Jack and David feature the pilot episode of The Dark Room and another 11th Hour Production by Faith McQuinn entitled “To the Moon and Back”. Remember to sign up to Mad-Con for 2020 goodness!

The Audio Life of Sam Donato

Posted By on December 3, 2018

We were saddened to see from a post of the great Jerry Robbins of Colonial Radio Theatre the loss of his long-time actor and collaborator, Sam Donato Junior on the 2nd of this December. Among some of the favourite roles Sam played for CRT over the years, Sam performed Sheriff Wilkins from Powder River and most recently Corporal Sam from The Adventures of Sgt. Billy and Corp. Sam.

From Sam Donato’s obituary:

DONATO, Samuel J., Jr. “Sam” Age 70, formerly of Saugus and Wakefield, died after a long illness, surrounded by his loving family. He was husband to Kathleen M. (Stafford) Donato, with whom he shared 29 years of marriage. He was born in Malden to Samuel J Donato, Sr. and Phyllis E (Barratt) Donato. He was a graduate of Saugus High School, class of 1966 and he attended Emerson College.

Sam held many occupations, mostly in the field of entertainment. He began his career as a character actor at the Pleasure Island Amusement Park in Wakefield, from there he started his long tenure with Rex Trailer’s Boomtown.

In 1974, he went into the music business performing in various bands until 1980. He then formed the Class of ’66, New England’s Premier 60’s and 70’s Band, which lasted about 25 years.

He loved theatre! He performed with the Wakefield Repertory Theatre for 9 productions. Winning 8 EMACT awards. His favorite production was playing Tevye in the Fiddler on the Roof in 1999. He also did many radio shows with the Colonial Radio Theatre as a voice artist.

He worked for the US Postal Service in Andover from 1994, until he retired in 2004.

Upon retiring in 2004, he and his wife, Kathy, migrated to central Florida, where he worked for Walt Disney World & Nickelodeon Hotel in entertainment. It was always his dream to work for Disney, and to be part of the Disney Family. He returned to Salem in 2016, where he worked at Pet Smart, until he retired in 2018.

Husband, dad, papa, brother-in law and friend were some of the most cherished roles Sam played during his lifetime. He was taken from us too soon.

Sam is preceded in death by his parents Samuel J. Donato, Sr. and Phyllis E. (Barratt); his brother Ronald “Jake” Donato and his sister Denise D’Anotuono.

Many loved ones will carry on his memory, including his loving wife, Kathy, his daughter, Jennifer M. Cheever of Wakefield; his step son, Ryan M. Chouinard of Burlington, VT; 3 grandchildren, Annabelle D. Cheever, Theo J. Cheever and Harry J. Cheever of Wakefield; his niece Tricia Morrison of Amesbury and his great nephew David Morrison of Amesbury. Also, his two brother-in-laws and wives, Michael F. Stafford and his wife Loretta Stafford of Danvers; Richard W. Stafford and his wife Perla Peguero of Salem and many friends.

In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made to Care Dimensions, 75 Sylvan Street, Suite B-102, Danvers, MA 01923 or Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, Philanthropy Office, 41 Mall Road, Burlington, MA 01805.

Visitation for relatives and friends will be held at McDonald Funeral Home, 19 Yale Avenue, WAKEFIELD MA on Thursday, December 6, 2018 from 3:00 to 8:00. A Celebration of Life will be held at the West Side Social Club, 4 Harrington Court, Wakefield, MA on Sunday, January 13, 2018 from 1:00 to 5:00. For directions/guestbook: www.mcdonaldfs.com.

Published in The Boston Globe on Dec. 2, 2018

To Foley or NOT to Foley

Posted By on December 3, 2018

For the longest time I’ve held a secret dislike for the term “Foley”. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a perfectly good description for someone who makes sound effects for a movie. But since radio drama and thus audio drama has been around for a lot longer than sound in movies, I think we should have our own terms. I’ve been lobbying for Farnby for sound effects digitally put together for audio drama (in honour of the amazing Stevie K. Farnaby) and Ely for live audio theatre creations (for the wildly enthusiastic live designer of sound for Wildclaw Theatre Ele Matlin).

Certainly, there are and have been many more amazing practitioners of the sound of the audio universe, for example Mike Martini and Mark Magistrelli who have their own thoughts on the use of “Foley Artist”. From http://www.mediaheritage.comMedia Heritage:  Sound Effects Guy: Don’t Call It Foley

This weekend, MH’s Mike Martini and Mark Magistrelli will be performing live sound effects on stage for a radio recreation of a script entitled The Canterville Ghost for a Cincinnati theater company. It’s the sixth production for Martini producing the sounds of doors closing, footsteps, thunderclaps, horse clops, etc., for this theater company. Mike has been a bit of a “sound effects nut” over the last decade or so, studying techniques of the artists from radio’s golden age and finding new “sounds” for modern ears. Just, please, don’t call him a Foley Artist.

It’s not that a true radio sound effects person has anything personal against a Foley Artist—indeed, on the surface they seem to do the same thing. And yet, not really. The original “Foley Artist” was none other than Jack Foley, himself; a sound technician from the silent film days of Universal Studios. When the “talkies” came about in the late 1920s, Foley struggled to have early film stars heard on film because of the primitive nature of carbon microphones and sound horns. So Foley devised a way to add or “augment” voices and sound effects synchronized to early sound-on-film. That his name has been immortalized for the process he invented is a tribute to his skill and creativity. Today’s film Foley Artists work strictly during the post-production part of filmmaking. They still sometimes make sounds by hand but mostly those sounds are digitally pre-recorded in a huge sound board. Still, the all of the sounds are added “after the fact.” This allows a Foley Artist to “get it right” each and every time.

A “real” (read: radio) sound effects artist didn’t have the luxury of post-production. They did it “live” alongside the actors. Although some effects were on prerecorded discs, they still had to be performed live. Like walking on a tightrope, it’s that vulnerability, that possibility of a very audible mistake, that separates a sound effects artist from a Foley. And mistakes did happen, too—guns misfired, equipment broke, etc., but the sound effects artist was responsible for an important part of the broadcast. Just how big a part? A radio program without sound effects is like a painting without a canvas. It’s the picture painted in the listener’s imagination that gives the dialogue width, depth and breadth.

With the death of the golden age of radio, many sound effects artists probably became Foley Artists—however, if you ran into them in the studio commissary, my guess is they probably took umbrage to being called a “Foley.”

So, what do you think? Do you call yourself a “Foley Artist”? Why or why not. Let us know in the comments…

Texas Radio Theatre and the Ed Wood of Audio

Posted By on December 1, 2018

We’re loving the return of Texas Radio Theatre’s feed into the world of activity. Some shows you love podfade forever, but Rich Frolich has brought back TRT with new vigour. In case you haven’t heard, TRT is one of the great originals of the modern audio drama movement- and to just kick up their qualifications a notch or two, most of their shows were live performances.

Most recently, Rich has reintroduced a whole new generation to the decade gone now Schlock Audio Theatre by Charlie Pratt (sometimes misidentified as Chris Pratt’s more talented brother). As well as the B-flick bonanza that Schlock provides on the feed, and the marvellous original content he’s still catching his audience up with, Mr. Frolich also gave us a listen to Judson Fountain. The man they are calling “The Ed Wood” of radio drama. It’s more fashionable to call something so awful that it’s good- “outsider art”- mostly because if you painted such abominations you would be locked outside until the paintings were destroyed in the rain- Fountain’s work is a glorious ode to what was radio drama. Listeners can hear his love of the art form. Judson Fountain pressed his own vinyl recordings, and if you own one of these fractured gems they are worth a pretty penny today.

Luckily for us, the Internet can provide for us what our vinyl collection lacks.

Go check out The (Sort of) Dark and (Mostly) Goofy World of Judson Fountain and enjoy.

Oh, and subscribe to Texas Radio Theatre today and as Rich Frolich would say- “Watch more radio!”

Oh, and Rich… what’s the chances of a live Schlock Audio Theatre/Texas Radio Theatre performance for Mad-con.com?

Episode 579- 11th Time

Posted By on November 27, 2018

Tonight we harken back to 11th Hour Audio Productions and two contributions for the 2018 season with “The Opportunist” from Steve Schneider and “Castle of Horror” by David Meredith!

Episode 578- Wocky Tall

Posted By on November 20, 2018

Tonight David and Jack bring the pilot episode of Rogue Tyger from Jabberwocky Audio Theater from Bjorn Munson. Remember to join us in mad-con.com!

Episode 577- Marvelous Magus

Posted By on November 13, 2018

Tonight David returns and he and Jack present the third episode in the eldritch eternal magician- Magus Elgar “If I only had a brane!” written by Kennedy Phillips and produced by Hamed Hokamzadeh!

Radio Ain’t Dead Yet

Posted By on November 9, 2018

This Spectator article wants to point out to those enamoured with the latest craze of podcast-madness, that radio hasn’t exactly been overwhelmed by the downloading RSS feeds.

Podcasts, too, have yet to master drama; it will surely become established, challenging the corporation to maintain its commitment to what is for many of us the USP of BBC Radio. Roy Williams’s modernisation of John Wyndham’s 1957 sci-fi novel The Midwich Cuckoos, on Radio 4 at New Year, was a chilling reflection of the original. Directed by Polly Thomas with Jenny Sealey and her theatre company Graeae, which is led by disabled actors, the drama suggests a link between the cuckoos of Wyndham’s novel and that sense of being different, ostracised by a society that does not understand you. Some of the cast members are profoundly deaf, which you can hear in their voices, some are black, adding levels of meaning to the text. The sound design (by Eloise Whitmore) and specially composed music by Oliver Vibrans added to the strange atmosphere. This was properly creepy.

Check out the detailed article by Kate Chisholm for more!

Episode 576- Virtual Votes

Posted By on November 6, 2018

Tonight with David off, Jack is looking forward to the American Mid-Term elections… Maybe a little too much so! He’s got a new Electric Vicuna Productions Wavefront Anthology show featuring Jeffrey Billard, Lothar Tuppan, Jan Didur, Tanja Milojevic and Pete Lutz thinking back on Bill Hollweg entitled “Voting is Anonymous”. A second short from Pete Lutz and the 11th Hour Productions group called “A Real Bedtime Gory” and a SPECIAL Bells in the Batfry with John Bell rounds out the post-Halloween fun!