Saturday, June 28, 2008

Some Words About The ART Of Audio Drama

"In the late fifties it was decided that you couldn't broadcast dreams on the air unless you transmitted pictures with it. This, despite the fact that radio had become the most popular mass entertainment medium of all time. The basic appeal of radio drama was the fact that you had to listen if you wanted to follow it. It wasn't enough to merely "hear" it. You had to listen. The word listen implies a conscious effort to pay attention, to participate. Thus, all the senses are activated, the curiosity is sparked, the imagination is fired, and the listener finds himself participating. In a real sense, he is a collaborator. In his brain he matches a face and a body to the voice. In his mind, he sees the action. And this is the basic difference between radio on the one hand, and every visual medium on the other. A good movie, a fine stage play or television drama, an excellent ballet, all these require an appreciative audience - a listener who literally works with the writer, the director, the actors and technicians to give completeness to the creative process.
It can fairly be said that along about the same time that radio drama disappeared, there came about a general decay in the art of listening. If you don't believe it, "listen" to some of the nonsense that's being spouted in all fields of endeavor and in all walks of life. This kind of talk is being inflicted upon us, because, in my opinion, people aren't really listening.
The most popular word in our language is now Communication. We deplore the fact that we no longer seem to be able to communicate with our children, our parents, our allies, industry, labor, each other.
How can we communicate if we no longer listen? A radio show has listeners, a television show has "viewers". Listening is an activity. Viewing is an event. Of course, there is room and need for all the entertainment media - and happily, a regrettable error made some [time] ago is slowly and hopefully being rectified. To me, it was incomprehensible that a flourishing and, yes, a spiritually nourishing, art form should have been allowed to die."

These thoughts echo mine.

They are from the introduction to the book "Strange Tales From CBS Radio Mystery Theater", written by the indomitable Himan Brown. THIRTY TWO years ago. 1976. This radio revival series ran from 1974 to 1982, logging some 1,400 shows (!). Originally hosted by E. G. Marshall, of which, here is a pic: