When asking for advice on becoming a better writer from those more established you’ll often hear the reply ‘READ’. The same goes when learning the art of an audio drama producer. There can be no better teacher than what’s been done already (with the exception of trial and error).
There is no shortage of audio dramas out there today to listen to. There are also many that stand as excellent examples of what the genre can do. I’m reluctant to start listing shows here as I would no doubt leave a show out that deserves to be mentioned. And there are SO MANY good shows out there to listen. So instead of a list I’ll just say that if you’re interested in hearing them then search Twitter for #audiodrama and #audiodramasunday. You can find, support, and connect with some incredible producers and their shows. You can also go to Apple Podcasts and scroll through the top 200 listings in the Performing Arts category under ‘Arts’. It’s a good place to start. I will add though that if a show is not in the top 200 it’s in now way an indication of quality or lack thereof. Not being among the top 200 might just mean that their listeners do not use the Apple Podcast app. You can also check out the shows that specifically exist to spotlight new talent and new productions (check out Radio Drama Revival, The Sonic Society , and Secrets Crimes and Audiotape to name a couple). As always, the Audio Drama Production Podcast is there to help and introduce you to advice, producers, methods, and more shows.
And here’s a secret. There’s a treasure trove of material available that contains almost everything you need to know about well-produced shows. I’m talking about Old Time Radio (often referred to as OTR). I’m afraid this is often overlooked or considered ‘my grandparents radio’ (or in some cases ‘great-grandparents radio’). AD producers today stand on the shoulders of giants and many are not even aware of it. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when audio dramas of the past have already attempted or failed at almost every idea conceivable. When it comes to innovations or techniques in audio I’d be hard pressed to find something today that hasn’t been tried. It is here that I will name shows. If you have 30 minutes to spare on a rainy afternoon listen to Suspense, Lights Out (by the amazing Arch Obeler), or X-Minus One to name only three of the thousands available through apps like OTR Streamer by Arbitrary Software (this is the one I use).
While I’m on the subject of OTR, a true example audio production excellence is Gunsmoke. You don’t have to be a fan of westerns to appreciate the artistry behind this show’s production. From the voice talent to the subtle sound design that puts you in the middle of the action, it stands the test of time when it comes to production values. If you can get past the outdated sounding intro you can pan for gold and find it. When Sheriff Matt Dillon gets off his horse and pushes through a saloon door – BOOM, you are there. I’ll refer to Gunsmoke quite often in this series. The show’s quality is something I aspire to. It also helps that the archival process managed to retain the show’s sound (many OTR recordings are scratchy or have suffered degradation over the years).
I’m trying very hard not to list audio drama podcasts that I recommend beginners listen to for fear of offending anyone I omit. If you’re interested feel free to contact me and I will be more than happy to offer some suggestions.
Osmosis is a thing, and listening to audio shows both past and present will introduce you to to techniques, story ideas, and worlds that will inspire and entertain.
Other Posts in this series:
- Birth of An Audio Drama 014: Audio Editing
- Birth of An Audio Drama 013: Recorded Lines
- Birth of An Audio Drama 012: Read-through
- Birth of An Audio Drama 011: Recording
- Birth of An Audio Drama 010: Voices
- Birth of An Audio Drama 009: Cover Art
- Birth of An Audio Drama 008: Drafts
- Birth of An Audio Drama 007: Format
- Birth of An Audio Drama 006: Framing and Narration
- Birth of An Audio Drama 005: The Discovery
- Birth of An Audio Drama 004: The Project
- Birth of An Audio Drama 003: Evernote
- Birth of An Audio Drama 002: Listen
- Birth of An Audio Drama 001: Plan
- Birth of an Audio Drama – A Very Brief Overview
Image: Cover Art from The Behemoth by Nils Nihils