Monday, November 2, 2015

Is the radio play dead?

Writing radio plays, it seems to me, is a lost art.

Stephen King says that in his intro to the collection of short stories Everything's Eventual. He talks about how he was trying to write a radio play, something along the lines of of Orson Welles' treatment of H.G. Wells War of the Worlds, starting the play as fake news announcements. But he couldn't do it. It was reading more like an audiobook. Which is what lead him to make the above comment. Or in full:
Writing radio plays, it seems to me, is a lost art. We have lost the ability to see with our ears, although we had it once. I remember listening to some radio Foley guy tapping a hollow block of wood with his knuckles...and seeing Matt Dillon walking to the bar of the Long Branch Saloon in his dusty boots, clear as day. No more. Those days are gone.
It seems true. The only time I listen to the radio is the few times I'm in the car (I train it to work and try to walk as much as possible rather than take the car out) and then I tend to listen to music.

So radio no, but I do listen to some podcasts. Serial. Freakonomics. Welcome to Night Vale. Night Vale is probably the closest to a radio play, the type King is talking about, but it still isn't quite the same.

But then I found something that is like King's lost radio play. And oddly enough, it came from his son, Joe Hill.

Kayleigh over at Nylon Admiral posted about how Hill's Locke & Key was currently available as an audiobook for free. For those who don't know, L&K is a graphic novel, so my first reaction to a GRAPHIC novel being made into an audiobook was a confused Britney
but I went with it cos I like free. And it's treated like an audioplay. There are multiple actors playing the different parts. There are sound effects. We're not hearing them tell a story, like the World War Z audiobook does. The characters aren't narrating. It is what I imagine King's radio plays were.

When I first read the Everything's Eventual intro, I was thinking that King is probably right, that the radio play is dead because who's going to sit around listening to the radio again? I'm glad I was wrong.

And seriously, go download Locke & Key because it is FREE until November 4th so you have a few more days.