Another music and memory post today! This is the fifth in my “With Music” series. The others so far included a song by Ben Folds Five (you can read it here), Sheryl Crow (here), one of the best songs ever by Beth Orton (here) and an embarrassing love for a Dean Martin single (here). This time, I take on a lost week and a zombie. Enjoy!
The easiest way to describe radio drama in the United States is to compare it to a zombie.
While in England and other European countries you can still find radio dramas (new and old) on their stations (many time with famous actors and writers supplying the talent), here it is something different. When television came around, the media world couldn’t have dropped it faster and all of the radio celebrities ran from the waves to the boxes.
Here is the thing though; it is not dead… well… not entirely.
It struggles, it grunts and it staggers forward, hands outstretched, craving listeners to bring it back, make it truly alive again. Not brains, ears is what the monster craves. Ears… Ears!
I have always had an obsession with radio plays. I remember the first time I heard The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It was like a revelation. Douglas Adams took his crazy idea and with some sound effects and wonderful actors made a movie in my head that was better than any I could have hoped to have seen. I went from there to The Firesign Theater and then to old time radio. There was an AM station in my area that would play it randomly late at night, and as a kid I would stay up, leaning over the player, ready to press record on my tape deck if a show I loved came on.
There is something awe-inspiring to me about radio plays. They take really little to produce, anything can be a sound effect (Douglas Adams made the sounds of the end of the universe with a bath tub, for example), and you were playing in the mind of someone else. And since radio dramas rarely get bogged down with descriptions, the listener is really an active audience, dressing the characters and the set with their imagination. It’s a personal experience, and the audience can own it as much as the performers.
So when I started to dream of being a writer, my first thoughts were all about radio. I wanted to capture the zombie and give it new life, I didn’t want to be eaten.
Yes, I dreamed of feeding it ears. Continue reading