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 2018
M T W T F S S
« Sep    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

The CCBJS Archives

Posted By on September 1, 2018

Concordia University has become the archive for Canadian audio drama- especially the CBC.

Centre for Broadcasting and Journalism Studies Archive has an incredible collection. Just check what their page details:

CBC Radio Dramas

Since 1975, the Centre has been the official legal depository of the radio drama scripts and ancillary drama materials of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.  The CCBS Collection now includes scripts from the dawn of radio in Canada in the 1930s to the present day. The Centre’s Archives collected and established by Howard Fink house more than 20,000 original Canadian radio drama scripts and several hundred sound versions of the most important of these productions, as well as all the surviving ancillary documents. Three extensive annotated bibliographies have been placed online for the radio dramas (1925-1961, 1962-1986 and 1987 ongoing).

Radio is a unique medium, and though it may be overshadowed by newer media as a means of communication, it has nonetheless played a central role in the evolution of Canadian and global communication and society. We maintain that the radio drama scripts contained in our archive are important artefacts of the cultural and political development of Canadian modernity itself.


CBC Radio Drama and Canadian Society

As may be gathered from the publications and research grants for the Centre’s original research program (Jackson, Fink, Vipond, and Nielsen), our focus is on the sociological-literary-historical and communications analysis of English-Canadian radio drama, in its national and regional production centres, concentrating on the creative products, their creators, the administrators, and their networks. The principal objective of this research program is to explicate English-Canadian cultural development as revealed in the historical and literary development of CBC radio drama and Canadian Broadcasting policy. Moreover, we learned from contractual negotiations, our copyright and legal agreements with the CBC, and research experience with the radio drama archive that the archive needs to be very carefully preserved for current and future generations of researchers.

Research Fellows have been researching and publishing on the theme of Canadian radio drama and society since 1975. Select examples of projects include:

  • Centralization and Decentralization of Canadian Broadcasting in Western Canada (John Jackson, Howard Fink, Mary Vipond, SSHRC grant, 1992-1995).
    This research represented the last phase of a long-range study programme built around CBC radio drama productions. It originated in the SSHRC funded project 410-89-007 (“Canadian cultural development, central & regional voices:  The case of CBC English-language radio theatre”), which concluded on August 31, 1991. In the proposal for 410-89-007 we indicated that it was our intention, in the long term, to pursue a study of the development of radio theatre in Western Canada focusing on Winnipeg, Regina, Edmonton and Calgary as regional production centres, and requested funds for a short-term study of Winnipeg as a major regional centre. Having completed our work in Winnipeg, we were able to follow through with research in Regina, Calgary/Edmonton, and Vancouver. Continuing with our original objective, we documented the centralization process via western radio theatre as an aspect of the broader process of the centralization of English-Canadian cultural production. The inquiry centred on the tension between regional and central voices in the development of public broadcasting in Western Canada.
  • An Instrument of War: The CBC in World War II (Mary Vipond, SSHRC Standard Research Grant, 2001-2004).
    This project, which will result in a book-length manuscript, focuses on the propaganda role of the CBC during the war by examining its censorship activities as well as programs such as the news service, war-related talks and dramas, and special events programming.  Most of the research was undertaken in Ottawa at what is now Library and Archives Canada; the chapter on war dramas will be based on scripts held at the Centre for Broadcasting Studies.  Graduate students in History assisted in the collection of secondary source material and in constructing a database of CBC wartime programming that will be analyzed to assess the trends in the frequency and popularity of such programs.
  • A comparative Critique of Seriocomedy and Social Context of Broadcasting in Quebec and Canada (Greg Nielsen, SSHRC Standard Research Grant, 1998) and The CBC and Radio-Canada Seriocomedy Project (Greg Nielsen, John Jackson and Mary Vipond, 2001).
    The research program began with comparative analyses of differences between French speaking Quebec and English speaking Canadian nationalisms as seen through the study of public broadcasting with a focus on Toronto and Montreal production centres. This research focused on public broadcasting and the cultures of urban laughter. It demonstrated that the CBC Broadcast Center provides production of an imaginary Canadian community mostly managed but not exclusively produced in Toronto’s downtown core. A French Quebec sense of a different national and urban imaginary in mass culture form also has its origins in the public broadcasting headquarters in Montreal.

We continue to archive CBC radio Drama and update the conditions of the archives to make them accessible to researchers. Our archival research continues to develop (Vipond on the history of Canadian Broadcasting; Nielsen on French and English language seriocomedies) but we also began broadening the research scope toward North American (Jackson and Rosenburgh on radio and audience reception) and global studies of broadcasting and other broadband media such as online newspapers.  (Fink on the Diniacopoulos tapes, Nielsen on newspapers and culture of cities—Montreal, New York, Dublin, Toronto, Berlin). By expanding the field of our research object to include the public cultures of broadcasting after modernity in a variety of locales.

How Do I Create and Audio Drama?

Posted By on August 31, 2018

Recently, this question came up in Quora. And since no one provided an answer for a year, we took a crack at it. How’d we do?

Audio Drama (Radio Drama to some) has become a kind of hot topic for those in the know more recently. My weekly podcast/radio show “The Sonic Society” features new audio drama from around the world now for fourteen straight years. Creating audio drama is so much easier than filming movies, and has become a favourite entry-point for many storytellers because you really need to focus only on three key things- telling good stories, utilizing excellent acting, and integrating effective production, sound effects and music.
1. Good stories- Writing audio drama is script writing. Keep in mind the following things:

  • Look for a good scriptwriting programme. Celtx is what I use now, but they no longer offer the desktop version that was free. I’ve used Final Draft and Fade In. There’s a number of ones that are excellent. Make sure you use one that follows a radio drama format of some kind and can number your lines for actors. Some people use a word processor like MS-Word. I recommend against it because the formatting will slow your writing down. Whatever your selection make sure that your actors will be able to read your script without buying into your choice. Make sure that the script itself can export into txt, rtf, doc, or pdf formats.
  • Make sure your story is something worthy of audio drama. In this, I mean that you should make certain your story isn’t just a film that you write as an audio drama- not that I don’t believe that you can’t adapt nearly any work, but especially as a beginner understand the constraints and freedoms of audio drama storytelling. Make your story something that is richly understood in the audio form. For example, the classic Suspense play “Sorry, Wrong Number” takes place entirely in the apartment of a woman confined to a wheelchair. While trying to call her husband, the phone lines get crossed and she overhears two men plotting a murder. The entire play is her desperate to get someone on the line to help her stop it. I’ve written two plays myself that use the phone as a conceit “Right Number, Wrong Party” and “Messages” early to get the beats and the feel of phone dialogue down.
  • Limit your narration. The main difference between audio drama and audio books is that audio books tell you a story, audio drama puts you in the thick of things. Imagine if you watched a movie of Tolkien reading “The Lord of the Rings” and then watched Peter Jackson’s trilogy. You may decide to use a narrator to set the scene or scenes, but the more you tell people your story, the less you immerse them in it.
  • Use sound effects to tell your story. Keep your sound effects as a way to explore and deepen the world you’re designing. Some folks like to use every sound effect in the book in each scene for a rich tapestry of sound. Others keep their sound effects minimalized. The Rule of Thumb here tends to be, to use enough to enhance your play but not so much that it confuses your listeners.
  • Limit the number of characters in your script. Too many characters will confuse and turn off your audience. Consider using just two or three characters for your first script. I try to keep it down to less than six.
  • Make sure your dialogue is not hackneyed. Many people say that you need to keep your dialogue realistic, but the truth is you can be stylized if it sounds realistic. Truthfully, Tarantino’s dialogue isn’t actually an authentic discussion. Most people don’t talk like that. But, it is stylized and interesting enough that we don’t care as an audience. Give your actors something meaty to work with, and your audience something believable to lean forward into. Be clever with your listeners. Don’t talk down to them. Avoid things like, “John! What are you doing with that gun?!” when you could write, “John! What are you doing?!” and the sound effect of a cocking pistol tells the tale.

2. Excellent Acting

  • Discover actors who know how to act and not “read”. There are fantastic actors who are used to using their voice but may not be effective at audio acting. A lot of voice work people are used to voice-overs or audio books. You can tell the difference as they sound like DJ’s and not characters in a movie.
  • If you don’t have money (and you’d be silly to go into audio drama production thinking you’re going to make it rich. NO ONE has. Even the best in the business can eke out a life for one or two people in their company group. The closest would be the Doctor Who Radio Drama folks, and I have no idea how small that organization is.), then go looking on university campuses. Go seeking out Little Theatres. Put up posters in libraries, at community centres, and send out ads through Kijiji or Craig ’s list or what have you. Make it clear that you’re looking for people who want to come together and have fun acting in audio dramas.
  • Follow through with auditions. Make sure there’s at least two or three of you. (I did this once by myself because my partners ducked out and it was one of the most stressful nights of my life). If you can partner with a community radio station (see Production below) then you can have a neutral place to meet, a waiting room often, and the facilities to record people professionally to listen to their voices. Have several pieces for various characters- men, women. About a page and a half of dialogue is usually enough. Pick pieces that are either monologues or two characters where you can help prompt them for their parts. Make sure you have posted the audition pieces electronically on a webpage or distributed through email, and printed out some copies in the waiting room for people to peruse and practice while they wait.
  • Make sure you pick actors with differing voices for each performance. I’ve found to my chagrin that many women actors I’ve selected in the past can sound the same to the audience. THE LAST THING YOU WANT TO DO EVER IS CONFUSE THE LISTENER AND LOSE THEM. So, make sure if you have multiple men together in a scene or multiple women that you contrast their parts with pitch, cadence, style, accents, or what have you.
  • Provide snacks and transportation to and from the recording sessions. Give specific details about start and end times and stick to them as tightly as possible. Three-hour sessions are standard. Any longer and you won’t have the actors at their best. Any shorter and you won’t get enough takes or preparation for the best product.
  • Have actors sign agreements. THIS IS KEY. Take it from me as I learned it the hard way. One of my ex-actors demanded I take everything down she was in. This was petty and ugly, and you could most likely win in a court case as you could prove malice on their part when they agreed originally, but as much as verbal consent is recognized by the law, written consent is much more binding.
  • Don’t be afraid to direct. This hurt me a lot in the beginning. I kept thinking, “Who am I to tell these actors how to do their parts?” You’re the director (and most likely the writer). The last thing you want to do is have your project recorded and discover that an actor or more didn’t give you what you need. A bad performance hurts the actor as much as you, and if they’re serious about their profession they will want to do great work. Be kind and patient and be prepared to describe what kind of voice, what kind of emphasis, what kind of emotion, what the scene and the setting is. Whatever it takes to place the actor into the experience at the time. Most serious actors really appreciate the direction. Always praise their efforts.
  • Provide snacks and transportation. This bears saying twice. You’re not likely going to have the money to pay them scale or anything. So, the least you can do is offer rides, nominal gas money, and baked goods and drinks. I provide water as well for the pipes, fresh bread I bake myself, cookies. I’ve even made pizza. Sometimes, I’ll go out and get doughnuts but I want to provide the most personal touch I can. Fresh fruit is another great option.
  • Be interested and promote and support your actors’ pursuits. If you want someone to be a part of your art, support other artists. Most of my actors also write/produce/act in many other plays. I try to go at least once a month to actors’ works or meetups. Fringe Festival is now on here in Halifax, and I regularly see 4–6 plays and praise my actors specifically on Facebook and encourage others to see them. I rarely get this kind of attention back in return. But, you’re wanting to make audio drama. We’re respected somewhere above mimes. Hold your head high and realize your brilliance may be appreciated long after you die.
  • Get experienced with microphones and direct your actors to record their lines in the mikes as best as you can. There’s an old adage, that the better you record voices, the less work you have in post-production. This was a very hard lesson for me to learn. I’m still learning it. But, MAN it makes all the difference in the world.
  • What if you can’t get actors locally? Or don’t have a studio? Well, you have a world full of satellite actors ready to jump into your production. If you go to my Facebook group “Audio Drama/Radio Drama Lovers” you can post requests for actors there. There are also other places like Voice Alliances and other Facebook groups like “Audio Production”. Be clear as to what the name of your project is. What the expectations of the actors’ involvement (is this a series or a single feature?). What they need to send you in the form of an mp3. What their contact information is. Your email and website for further questions. Deadline for auditions and the like. Be sure that your satellite actors have a great recording studio of their own to work from, and that their voices are perfect for your project. While you can’t provide transportation and food, praise and support will be hugely appreciated. The audio drama community, by and large, is a great big family and we all love each other’s work. That’s starting to change now as the community has taken on various characters and types. But, for the most part, we’re still really supportive.
  • Use headphones when you record. Studio expensive headphones if possible for you and regular headphones for your actors. You need to hear EVERYTHING they record, and they should get used to listening to themselves in their ears to modify their performance.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the actors to redo scenes where they don’t work. If you need to have them come back for second recording sessions to fix lines that don’t work in post-production. Once again. The more you get it right in recording, the less pain you’ll have in post.
  • Listen for the hard consonant popping. In the business, these are called “plosions” and they occur often with p’s, d’s, b’s and the like are too close to the microphone. Use pop-shields to provide as much cursory protection as possible.

3. Production- Post producing your audio drama

  • Good DAW (digital audio workstation) is key. Look around and see what might be in your price range. Lots of folks begin with Audacity or Garage Band but move into things like Adobe Audition or Protools as their skills become more advanced. I’m currently using Reaper which has an incredible price point. You can actually use it perpetually for nothing, but I recommend purchasing it at about fifty bucks. Really powerful and fast editing capabilities.
  • You’ll need to understand how to break down your actors’ recordings separately and isolate them into separate tracks.
  • You’ll need to work to get rid of any extraneous noises in the actors’ recordings as well as normalize their voices to sound like they are all in the same environment (room or outdoors)
  • You’ll need to cut and edit their separate tracks so that their dialogue mixes naturally and well together adding pauses and beats for reactions to the conversation as well as having each work tightly off each other in other situations. Natural dialogue is often the best sounding. Your job here is to make sure the actors don’t sound like they are acting their lines but engaged in a moment.
  • You’ll need to consider which sound effects are needed in this scene to tell the story. Are they on a porch in the countryside in the evening? You’ll need crickets, a light wind, and the creak of your porch swing. You might also need a screen door opening and closing and the creak of floorboards as they walk up and down steps. Is someone lighting their pipe? Is someone else pouring a cool glass of lemonade? What of these sound effects clarifies, and what might confuse the audience?
  • You’ll need to consider whether you need music or not. Look on the Internet for free to use music. Ask the musician/composer if they will lend you the rights for your performance, or pay if you can the fees (musicians need remuneration too). Or have a friend or yourself compose music. You’re going to want to consider several TYPES of music: themes, stings, and mood. A. Theme music is what you’ll want to start and end your show or series with. Theme music can also be reflected in your other types of music to have a coherency to your story. If you listen to the Star Wars suite from John Williams you can pick out the most famous Star Wars theme in many of the pieces. B. Stings are used often for transitions between scenes. You don’t NEED stings to transition, but they often provide a strong notice to your audience that one scene has ended and a new one- perhaps in a different time and place- has begun. And remember, one of the most important goals is to never confuse your audience. C. Mood music is an often overlooked important piece of music. It is often designed to be low key and not draw attention to itself. Slow and/or few notes can provide a mood that the audience feels more than hears and that can really provide good suspense or pathos to a scene. I’ve reused excellent mood music that my chief musician Sharon Bee (www.sharonbee.com) has provided for me through the years again and again. Oh yes, make sure you promote your musicians as much as possible. They provide so much emotion to your shows. I love Sharon to death. I really enjoy collaborating with her and she’s been with me from the very beginning.
  • You’ll need to consider how to blend your voices into this new audioscape you’ve created. If someone is outdoors, they sound different than they would in a closet. Make sure your audience doesn’t think your actors recorded in a sterile environment. Isolation was excellent to get you to a place where you can immerse your action in a scene and a setting.
  • You’ll need to modify the loudness and pan your characters and sound effects. If someone is coming in from outside, they are usually entering from either left or right. Don’t make the mistake of panning too far all the time because if you’re successful a lot of people listen to their audio dramas on commutes in cars and car speakers may not capture the full range of your panning.
  • Consider the use of VST plugins and other plugins that are available. I’m really only learning about how great these tools can be now as I delve more into the production side myself. So many really powerful plugins will save you time. They could EQ a voice to give someone with a higher register more depth. They could help remove sound artifacts which take away from the sound. They could help remove the popping “plosions” we’re so afraid of as producers. Some plugins are free and are a good start. Some of the very best (iZotope for example) are really expensive but get on their mailing list and look for deals. I found one suite normally for 500 dollars for twenty-six bucks. Thank heavens a fellow audio drama produce emailed me right away and I snagged them when I could. They are magic!
  • Edit on your speakers. While you record with headphones, it’s important to use speakers to edit. Some folks like to create fully immersible 3-D sound and all power to them. My job is to try to make an audio drama that everyone can hear everywhere. Whether someone is listening in their car, on their radio, in their earbuds, or through crappy speakers, I want them to hear my stories. Why limit your already limited audience?
  • Mixdown to the best sound quality you can. My minimum is 44100 Hz, 192 kbps, joint stereo mp3 for podcast/radio broadcast. I keep a wav file for a higher bit rate in my files. You can go 256 kbps but that’s usually overkill for mostly vocal tracks.
  • Decide how you want to distribute your project. Set up your own podcast (there’s a number of providers and even archive.org for free), place for direct download as a link on your website, partner with a radio station for release (you’ll need a whole lot of shows if you want regular release or find a show that will play your feature occasionally), create as a CD or (gasp) cassette tape for your grandparents, or render into a youtube or other such stream. Even get your feature played on The Sonic Society (www.sonicsociety.org)
  • Market, market, market. Share with others. Talk about your show. Go out in social media and provide links and excitement.
  • Wait for that one email you get from a fan who in breathless text tells you how brilliant you are.
  • Organize all your files, especially your sound effect files and actor auditions and contact information.
  • Identify what went wrong, and what you can improve for next time. Challenge yourself to do better and stick to it.
  • Start your next project!

And that’s all you need to know. Easy right? So, get out there and produce the next great Audio Drama. Then contact us at the Sonic Society and let us showcase it for you!

Sonic Summerstock Playhouse S09E09: Rockets to Mars

Posted By on August 28, 2018

Tonight we conclude Sonic Summerstock Playhouse with a double feature from Narada Radio Company and “Rocket from Manhattan”, Pete Lutz producing a classic Arch Oboler play, and The Amigo Audio Collective with “The Stars are Styx” an X-Minus One presentation produced by Jeffrey Billard.

Thank-you EVERYONE who made this summer season such a success!

Audio that Moves You

Posted By on August 26, 2018

Recently, I was catching up on the Audio Drama Production Podcast and I listened to Steve Schneider’s excellent discussion with Sarah Golding about the importance of having a powerful beginning. Steve is a deft writer/producer, and always has some key insights in what makes excellent audio drama. And this made me consider what struck me most in the many, many, listening hours I’ve enjoyed over the years. First, I thought about what the ultimate goals are to producing all art, and in particular audio drama.

Sir Philip Sidney once said that poetry should “Teach and Delight.” Building on that idea, I felt maybe there were a couple more goals (or unintended consequences) as well.  Here’s my list of four goals for audio drama development:

  1. Entertains (Delights)- First and foremost if an audio play doesn’t entertain the audience, I think we can all agree that it failed its most basic purpose.
  2. Teaches the Audience- Entending past simple entertainment, good audio dramas provide interesting information to the audience. Whether the listeners come away with an understanding of human nature, a deeper appreciation for a particular vocation, or simply some interesting trivia, teaching an audience something new appeals to our basic nature to grow and learn.  “After all, Mr. Watson,” Holmes frowned. “If you examine Mr. White’s nails on his left hand, you’ll notice they are expertly manicured, whereas the fingernails on his right hand are long and hardened. Therefore, not only is he a guitar player as we’ve already deduced, but he plays his instrument left-handed. Something no right-handed individual would accomplish!”
  3. Enlightens- An audio drama that enlightens the listener, leaves them profoundly transformed. Powerful performance and themes impact the individual as they consider the deeper meaning between the audio work and how it compares and reflects in their lives and self-concept. Stories that enlighten the listener, provide inner truth in a world that can sometimes feel meaningless.
  4. Inspires- And finally, an audio drama goes beyond transforming a listener with universal and personal truths, may inspire a listener to share the information, or live their own truth echoing by example what they have learned. In doing so, an inspired audience spreads meaning far beyond the confines of a story and into the greater community and world.

You’ll notice in the four goals that there is a natural progression from influence beginning with a larger group to a very personalized experience. Certainly, not all audio dramas fulfill all four goals, nor need they. The author’s purpose in telling the story often makes the decision as to the intent of their their impact. Since all four goals is a personal voyage, let me share with you some (certainly not an exhaustive list) audio dramas that have made me think and inspired me to be a better audio playwright.

Crazy Dog Audio: Gerry in the Dark Passage– Originally aired on Sonic Society episode #13, Roger Gregg uses this tale to demonstrate how powerful inner monologue can truly intensify story, tension, while still infusing meaning with a deep social commentary.

Suspense: Sorry, Wrong Number– This classic OTR originally starred Agnes Moorehead and was written by Lucille Fletcher. One of the most recreated scripts in audio drama history, Fletcher’s expert use of the telephone demonstrates how terrifyingly realistic stories can be told through the medium of sound. This suspenseful epic inspired two of my earlies shows Right Number, Wrong Party and Messages using the same conceit.

Red Panda: Tis the Season The most knowledgeable pulp writer in modern audio dramatic history, Gregg Taylor masterfully delivers a festive story previously only found on the pages of a Will Eisner comic book. This feature brought insight into the relationship between how “closure” and vivid artwork is translated between the paintbrush of the comic book, into the paintbrush of the audio world.

Colonial Radio Theatre: Barrymore– Originating from the award-winning William Luce play, this  Theatre of the Mind adaptation, dispels any doubt that a small one-man show couldn’t hold a listening audience spellbound for hours. While many audio enthusiasts today insist on smaller, bite-sized episodes, Jerry Robbin’s “Barrymore” performance brazenly stands in the face of such declarations.

Best Plays: On Borrowed Time– This “Best Plays” classic tale adapted for radio, highlights how a small cast is key in telling engaging audio stories. Large casts confuse audiences and dilutes character connection. More than six actors can begin a cascade of diminishing returns.

The Truth: The Dark End of the Mall Casper Kelly’s modern-day classic from Jonathan Mitchell’s “The Truth” podcast highlights two key elements in great writing- expectation and reward. The author clues and intrigues the audience throughout the feature by feeding expectation and changing the result. This short feature has three main turning points- none of which occur in the early part of the play. The audience deepens their wide-range of emotional connection beginning with amusement, morphing to concern, and finally, realization brings abject horror.

Midnight Radio Theater: The Woman in the Basement Through one of the greatest series most people have never heard, writer/producer Billy Senese revolutionized dialogue in the modern audio drama play. While many writers rely on two modal attitudes in their characters- those being Whedonesque sarcastic quips or “tell-all” rage expositions, Senese mastered the art of silence. Exposing that what is most important in a scene isn’t what the characters tell you, but what is revealed by what is not being said. Less talk and more meaningful dialogue creates complex characterization and requires the audience to lean in and engage fully with the drama. Vocal ticks may clue us into elements of a character’s personality. Nuanced dialogue informs the audience what the character values.

This is in no way my complete list of favourite audio dramas. Such an exercise would rival the manifest of Noah’s ark. Your list could well be equally as long, and perhaps it’s a better question to ask- What audio dramas have changed the way I listen, think, and write?

If you consider which audio dramas profoundly inpact life and your art, you’ll have a much more meaningful and personal list to cite.

Howelling Wisdom

Posted By on August 24, 2018

Recently, our Sonic Echo team have been talking about the classic Nightfall horror suspense series from CBC Radio in the eighties. Bill Howell, the senior producer had a fascinating take on the challenge of getting an audience in Radio Drama. From the Theatre Research in Canada Journal. 1990’s article Bill Howell from Canadian Radio Drama in English: Prick Up Your Ears:

According to CBC producer Bill Howell, however, such numbers do not really constitute an audience (even though, of course, the word ‘audience’ derives form the Latin verb audire, ‘to hear’).
They represent individual listeners, simply because there can be no interaction between them and the performers. The experience necessarily is subjective and internalized.
The play is created in the imagination of the listener. This is both the weakness and the strength of radio drama. It precludes the communal experience, the interaction of stage event and audience response so vital to live theatre; but it creates a condition of intimacy, a personal voice in the ear, which live theatre cannot replicate.
Bill Howell considers radio theatre a kind of paradox: ‘It comes out of a sense of community, but finally radio drama is a community of two’ – the radio whistling into the listener’s ear. Most importantly, it develops the art of listening – listening as active and participatory. And in this age of visual stimulation, listening has become almost a lost art.
Rarely is the whole concentration focused on sound. The general assumption in our hurried society is that listening is secondary and passive; it fills in the background during more important activities such as ironing and washing the dishes. The result is that most of us hear very little. We tend to hear what we want to hear, what we think we hear.
We become closed to new perceptions. Only the strident and shocking sounds cut through – what television announcers now call ‘sound bites.’ Radio drama, however, is foreground listening.
It works only if it commands the whole attention of the audience, and this is a difficult thing to do.

Almost forty years later and the challenge is still real, Mr. Howell. Thank you.

Sonic Echo 212: Summer Parlour- Johnny Got His Gun

Posted By on August 23, 2018

Jeffrey Billard, Lothar Tuppan, and Jack Ward greet our final guest in the parlour this summer. Craig Robotham joins us from Weird World Studios to talk about one of his favourite Arch Oboler plays from the Dalton Trumbo novel Johnny Got His Gun starring Jimmy Cagney.

Apologies for the poor sound quality…

SyFi’s Uncharted Regions Gets A Familiar Face

Posted By on August 21, 2018

SyFy is getting into the Audio Drama game with Uncharted Regions and bringing in some familiar faces- John Billingsley from Star Trek- Enterprise joins the cast for an upcoming episode. Billingsley speaks with great reverence in this article from SyFi about his love of listening to audio drama growing up. His favourite was Bradbury-13 and many other classics. Uncharted Regions has wrapped producing its first season. Release date to be announced.

Sonic Summerstock Playhouse S09E08: Time Flashes

Posted By on August 21, 2018

Tonight CNY Table Reads return with their take on the classic H.G. Wells Time Machine and the iconic Flash Gordon!

Nazi Eyes

Posted By on August 19, 2018

A new Facebook group appreciating classic old-time radio from the north : Canadian Old Time Radio. One of the shows was a five-episode series called Nazi Eyes on Canada. Rumour in the group is that there are six episodes but one was lost. Have a listen back to 1942… in simpler, yet dangerous times.

Nothing like the Real Thing?

Posted By on August 16, 2018

Every once in a while we find an awesome article on the benefits between real sounds and Foley creation. Trento Stefano gives a clear analysis between the real and the simulated in this pdf article Foley Sounds Vs. Real Sounds. Considering how Foley is used to describe motion pictures, maybe we need a term to represent Audio Drama digital sound effect productions. How about “Farby” for sound effects developed by the wildman of audio sound effect creation, Stevie K. Farnaby of Brokensea.com?