Let your imagination go wild with radio theatre

The beauty of radio is that you can take listeners on a journey, you can transport them to anywhere in the universe – real or imagined.

Sound lends itself to the imagination, it can paint a picture in the minds of listeners – you provide the sound, their mind makes the images.

As an example, for the 100th edition of my jazz show. I wanted to do something a little special and so recorded the show as though I was live on stage at an imaginary Jazz venue.

It meant introducing each track as a live act. The addition of sound effects such as microphone feedback, room atmosphere, and audience cheers and applause, as well as a slight reverb on my voice, fooled plenty of people into believing it was a broadcast of a live show. What a hoot!

It’s something I have done before, the last time I pretended to broadcast live from the basket of a hot air balloon floating high in the sky – the show ended when the basket “crashed into trees” thanks to some sound FX.

During the show I gave out clues as to where I was, thanks to a map on my desk, and listeners were asked to guess where in the world I was via Facebook.

“I can see a famous church beneath me and I think that is the M1 motorway.”

One thing I haven’t done yet is radio theatre, where I can take listeners to a remote castle, a distant land, or into deep space.

All you need is a script (simpler the better) and three or four people to play the characters (recording it can be great fun and push your creative side – you can pretend to be anyone). Your script can be dramatic, humorous or scary…then add music and SFX to taste.

And your productions don’t need to be overly complex nor long. You don’t have to compete with Orson Welles and his famous The War of the Worlds production that sent people fleeing their homes to escape alien predators in 1938.

Orson Welles during the broadcast of The War of the Worlds in 1938.

Above, an episode from Campfire Radio Theater.

Your productions could be 10 minutes long and even be sponsored by a company; “honey do you want to get a take-away from the ‘name of local shop’?”

If recording and producing a play is not for you, then check out your favourite podcast library because you are bound to find some that are ready to download and enjoy.

There’s likely an Am-Dram group near to you too and its members might be grateful for the chance to record a show for you to broadcast. Or perhaps the local school’s theatre group might have something to offer.

Radio theatre can add a welcome break to the music for some stations while providing not only variety for the listener but another way for non-DJs to get involved in your station.

Have fun and let your imagination flow.