Well, Guys, Theater 13 Radio is Off the Air

When I was thirteen I used to listen to a black and white transistor radio tucked under my pillow. One night I found a Chicago station and heardWhen I was young finding Old Time Radio was a way for me to head into the light....  The CBS Radio Mystery Theater hosted by E.G. Marshall.

Just like that I was hooked. I fell in love with radio dramas and wanted to hear more.

Popular for its time, CBSRMT was a modern program aired by CBS during the late 70s and early 80s and produced by Himan Brown. It was an attempt to recapture the magic of Old Time Radio. When we moved from Illinois I always made it a point to find a station that aired this program so I could continue listening, and I would often ask my grandparents what they remembered of OTR.

As an adult I discovered real OTR, old time radio, and its fans. I began to collect and research these old programs and listen to them whenever I could. As a professional writer I saw the intrinsic value of these radio shows beyond their nostalgic worth. I knew I could learn a lot from these programs on how to write a tight cohesive story, and I did.

I had fun running the station for two years, but it got difficult to maintain. We don’t have the best Internet around so I always had to worry whether we were streaming or not. Sometimes the electricity went off at night, a regular occurrance here in Dallas. So I had to restart the computer and more often than not go into the server and restart that.

It got too difficult to maintain. I was always worried I wasn’t providing the promised service I wanted to provide. Sure, the Internet station was free for listeners, but even so that shouldn’t mean they had to put up with spotty service.

I think we did well given the fact a lot of people said they liked it and enjoyed it, but the service didn’t live up to my standards.These were because of things outside my control (Internet, electricity, servers down) but that didn’t mean I wasn’t concerned and bothered by it.

So, the Internet station is off the air. I am going to miss it. I am not going to miss worrying whether we would stay on the air when a thunderstorm came through or why the computer shut down during the night or why everything appeared to be working correctly but we couldn’t connect to the server.

So we are off the air and the website and the servers are shut down. But the memories will remain. ūüė¶

 

Mistress Zarella welcomes you to Theater 13 Radio....

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The History and Location of Theater 13 Radio (for those who might wonder!)

Theater 13 Radio comes to you from a desolate graveyard surrounded by thick oak and dead pecan trees. Surrounding this ancient family cemetery is a rusty wrought-iron fence without a gate. Inside the fence stands a lone gray marble mausoleum with a single word carved in the lintel:

   ZARELLA

It is the last resting place of the lovely spirit you see in our banner.

Zarella died on her wedding night in 1923 after her third* husband succumbed under mysterious circumstances from, what were said to be, self-inflected knife wounds in his throat and chest. Go figure! Accidents in the home. What can you do to avoid them?

On her way to seek help, Zarella’s car, a red Dusenberg Model A, blew a tire. Some say she was driving too fast. Others say she was headed the wrong way because the only doctor was in the opposite direction. Well, you know how people gossip. Anyway, she skidded off a bridge into a river swollen with dark, rushing water. And there she drowned, trapped inside the car.

Funny thing that. Little problem with the logistics. When the car was pulled from the river she wasn’t inside. Doors were locked. Windshield wasn’t smashed or anything. She simply disappeared. There was a search and she was found dead half a mile down river. Some wags maintain she pushed the car into the river to fake her death and accidentally slipped in after it and drowned. Like that could really happen.

Gosh. It’s still a mystery, though. Well, there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio.

Now her aching, wandering soul channels OTR programs directly from the eternal ether to your PC — in an effort to reconnect with the material world, and return….

We’re not sure what she will do if she ever does return to this world. But it probably won’t be good.

And people say there are no happy endings in life. Enjoy the scary programs!

Theater 13 Radio, your one stop for OTR programming!

*They think it was her third husband. Records are kind of sparse since the City Hall burned down in 1934. Almost like someone was trying to cover up something. Anyway, it’s thought she might have been married before, but unfortunately her previous husbands died of tragic accidents around the house. One stumbled down the basement stairs in the pitch dark and broke his neck on the edge of a shovel. A one in a million happenstance, really, but what can you do? The second husband was found dead in the house library. He had been cleaning his gun and, well, it made quite a mess. The local police had trouble explaining this “accident” seeing as how he also had a letter opener in his back. But you never know about these things, and the past has a way of hiding its secrets. Everyone said the third marriage was for love.

Reading Outside Your Genre Even if it Kills You

There are lots of ways to get better at writing. Sitting down and writing more is one of the more obvious. Another helpful way is to read a lot, and read often. That is also obvious. If you write science fiction you should read a lot of science fiction. If you write romance you should read a lot of romance.

But a step past that is to read outside your genre. It makes sense to read the genre you are working in. That gives you perspective to what is going on, what is being published, and the impact it is having within the genre. But reading outside your genre? Does that mean if I write science fiction I should read Regency romances?

Well, you don’t have to read all Regency romances. I am arguing you need to be familiar with them, what they are about, how they are written, the structure of those novels, etc. That goes for every genre. I firmly believe you need to cross-read into other genres to get a perspective on your own genre. The more you know about other books and writers the more tools and confidence you can bring to the table in your own work.

There are genres I despise. I mean, I absolutely despise them. But I have read a couple of novels and short stories within them to have at least a passing familiarity with them. I also bring that knowledge to my own work. My dark fantasy stories set in the mythological town of Haxan have the benefit of not only being westerns. In that setting I can write romance, fantasy, mystery, suspense. drama, practically anything I want. The setting allows versatility.

Therefore, if I am going to write a romance story¬† in the Haxan mythos then shouldn’t I at least have a passing familiarity with the genre? I cut my teeth in science fiction. I read it almost exclusively when I was growing up and that’s what I first started writing. But that is a narrow focus. Anytime you look to one genre as your template you are limiting yourself.

As I got older I started branching out and began to read everything. All right, being a voracious reader to begin with I was already reading everything I could get my hands on, but this time I started reading in order to understand what the genre was about. I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. I see a lot of that, by the way, from new writers in SF particularly. There’s a lot of “reinventing the wheel” that comes along. I know the SF genre pretty well, I think. I’ve exhausted it completely via my reading. Not difficult to do because while deep, the genre itself is rather narrow. As opposed to fantasy which is extremely broad in nature, but there’s not as much literary depth as one might like. Or westerns, which is both narrow and shallow. (More about that later.)

One good thing that comes from this is you can stumble across great books in other genres you might not necessarily have thought about approaching. I freely admit when I was younger I was an SF snob. I didn’t see any reason why I should have to read classical literarture. What did dead Englishmen know about SF, aside from the scientific romances of H.G. Wells? Shakespeare? Joyce? Shelley? Hell do they know about science fiction?

You can see the fault in my so-called “logic” I am sure. By limiting myself to only one genre I limited my knowledge of the genre I professed to be interested in: Science fiction. Because the more you know about other genres the more you know about your own. Fortunately, I grew out of that ridiculous assumption the classics were unworthy of my time, and now I love the classics. In point of fact they, along with history, are what I mostly read now, with the occasional foray into books I read in my youth for light entertainment: Burroughs, Fleming, Hamilton, Le Carre, and others.

So why don’t I continue to read a ton of science fiction? Because I have exhausted the field. As I said before, while the genre is somewhat narrow, it is deep. Even so you can completely exhaust the field via reading in four or five years. And I’ve been reading that stuff since I was a kid. I’ve seen it all. I know all the plots and I’ve seen all the variations. There is nothing new under the sun in science fiction other than different ways to tell the same story.

All right. That is true for any genre. I get that. But we’re talking about science fiction here because that is the genre I cut my teeth on. So once I realized I was reading the same book again for the umpteenth time I moved on to other genres, other work, other voices. I don’t always like what I see. Actually, unlike when I was a kid, if a book or a story doesn’t grab me right away I move on. I don’t give a book “time” to grow on me. I try not to do that as a writer, and I don’t like coming across it as a reader. Besides, there are lots of other better books out there, so if something doesn’t grab me right off I move on.

Writing is always red in tooth and claw. That’s the way it should be.

Finally, a word about westerns. I am deeply involved in working this genre right now. My attraction to the genre is well documented: I fell in love with the old time radio series Gunsmoke and wanted to write something like that. Meanwhile, I began to read through the genre to get a feel of what was out there.

Hoo boy. A lot of crap, mostly. Even the so-called “classics” of the western genre are achingly bad. It didn’t take me long to realize there wasn’t a whole lot going on here. Very little growth, almost nonexistent literary quality, and an almost obsessive dependence on myth and cliche.

It didn’t take me long to read through the genre at all. There’s simply not that much out there that isn’t a clone of something else, and the times you do run across something new and different like Cormac McCarthy, or Ed Gorman, or Estleman, well, it’s a real pleasure.

But because the genre is so narrow I realized here was a great opportunity. I could write anything I wanted if I created the right setting. I could experiment with all sorts of stories. I am not saying I am the first one to do this in the western genre. I know better. I am not saying I am doing it better than anyone else, either. I am merely stating I love the opportunity to work like this and hopefully, by some small part, bring a fresh look and a reawakening to a genre that, at best, is on life support.

Well, I’ve said a lot in this blog post. You may or may not agree with all of it. But one thing I want you to take to heart, particularly if you are a beginning writer. Read everything. I mean everything you can get your hands on. You don’t have to like it, but be familiar with it. When you start writing your stories and your books and your plays, you don’t want to have to reinvent the wheel like the other writers around you.

You will have read outside your genre. You will be well armed and well prepared to meet whatever obstacle comes your way as you write your story because of your breadth of knowledge. Want to be a writer? Then write.

And read. A lot. No. More than that. Read everything.

“The Whistler” is being aired on Theater 13 Radio!

Theater 13 Radio is running an Old Time Radio marathon of The Whistler. This classic radio show was based on horror, mystery, suspense and other genres. The main thing about this show is you get to follow the story through the eyes of the murderer, and yet the story always takes an unexpected twist in the last minute. They are very well written and like all OTR I think theybenefit writers who want to concentrate on dialog and story structure.

Enjoy!

 

Mistress Zarella welcomes you to Theater 13 Radio....

 

Stuck on a Haxan Story for a Year…and I’m Glad

Yesterday at the coffee shop I sat and listened to some old Gunsmoke radio episodes. These are always good for recharging my batteries, so to speak. Especially when I am deeply involved in writing western stories…or stories in gSometimes we can learn more from being stuck than doing something easy in writing...eneral. The dialog is fantastic and the pacing and structure of the old time radio stories are helpful if you want to study and think about theory.

This is important because I have been struggling with a Haxan short story for about a year now. I wrote the story last summer and I’ve fiddled with it here and there…but it has never come out feeling finished.

There’s something missing in the story. I can’t identify it. But it bothers me.

I have to admit this doesn’t happen too often anymore. It was more normal when I was just starting out as a writer and had way less confidence than I do today. But even for that I am kind of glad this story is still nagging me and that I can’t figure out what’s wrong with it or how to fix it.

The reason is because the story is reminding me that writing is a constant learning process. Anytime a writer thinks he has it all figured out he is setting himself up for colossal failure. So that’s why I am not peeved I can’t figure this story out. I feel deep down I will one day find the key element that’s missing and make the story come together. Then again, if I don’t, that’s okay, too. Because it will always be there nagging at me, a constant reminder that no matter how many stories I have sold, there is always something more I can learn.

Writing is difficult. But sometimes in our difficulties we can learn something more about the structure of a story, and ourselves.

I am glad the holidays are at an end. Now the hard work begins.

I really am. Now I can concentrate on the 1000 other things that need attention.

I have short stories lined up for publication through Argo Navis along with:

1.) New Haxan novel to work on. And research.

2. Other short stories clamoring to be written.

3.) Outside work.

4.) Keeping up with Theater 13 Radio.

5.) Fighting our extremely poor Internet access. Which may ultimately impact Theater 13, because if I can’t get a dependable Internet then I really may have to shut down the radio. In fact, it just went out again as I was typing this, so shutting down Theater 13 Radio is becoming more of a possibility than ever before if I can’t get this rectified. I can’t in good conscience ask people to listen to the radio if I can’t assure them of a dependable connection. It’s just not fair to them. I am really wrestling with this right now.

6. I don’t even want to think about all the family stuff hanging over my head. I don’t know how I’m going to juggle that along with writing and radio and publishing.

And that’s the work. I’m not even taking into account my desire to continue learning and practicing classical guitar. Sheesh. It’s really overwhelming.

It all comes down to this. Something has got to go. I’m committed to writing and getting my backlog of stories published through Argo Navis. That means everything else may have to be forfeit.

And that’s what writing is all about, Charlie Brown. Making hard decisions.

I’m going to have to start making them.

 

 

Theater 13 Radio Marathon: CBS Radio Mystery Theater

Theater 13 Radio is ringing in the New Year by running a CBS Radio Mystery Theater marathon. This was the classic radio show hosted by E.G. Marshall. I just love listening to Old Time Radio because the emphasis is on dialog, an important aspect of fiction. It’s always a learning experience for me.

Hope you guys like this classic radio programming and have a great New Year’s day! ūüôā

Mistress Zarella welcomes you to Theater 13 Radio....

New Story in EQMM, Theater 13 Radio and Health Update

My new Haxan story is out in the newly published February 2012 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. This is breaking news since I got the contributor copies a week or so ago. I think the magazine itself is out on the stands, however. If you pick up the magazine I hope you like the story when you read it.

I don’t have a file for the February 2012 magazine cover yet to help you find it on the newsstands, but when I do I will post it here. Last time I checked they only have the January cover image available. Meanwhile, I hope to have some really good news about upcoming Kindle stories from Argo Navis Publishing within the week. Again, I’ll post that information when it comes available. So keep watching the blog because that update is right around the corner.

Other that that it¬† has been a busy four or five days past. I’ve been working at The Observatory and we were pretty busy with late minute shoppers. I have also been fighting the downside of a head cold. The cold isn’t all that bad. I mean, I’ve had worse. But I’m dragging a bit right now and my sleep ;patterns are all out of whack. Not that they’ve ever been very solid to begin with. In the midst of all that our modem went out along with the router. So we upgraded and now we’re plugged back into the Matrix. More importantly, Theater 13 Radio was off the air for about a day which irked me, but we’ve got it back up now.

I bought Star Wars: The Old Republic and started playing. My character is a Jedi Consular named Gaella. So far I like the game a lot even though I am only at level 5. It is very story driven, and while you can’t escape comparisons to World of Warcraft there is enough different here to interest me. I also bought Skyrim but haven’t had time to install it and try it out. Skyrim is a single player game but with deep sandbox elements which is what I tend to prefer in a PC game. Once I get my feet wet in both games I’ll post reviews here.

I am still reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing. This is the second book in the Border Trilogy. I like it a lot so far, much better than the first book All the Pretty Horses. Yes, I am planning reviews of them, too. I know, I’m way behind, you don’t have to tell me! I’m running in place as fast as I can.¬† ūüėÄ

Finally, we are running classic Christmas programming on Theater 13 Radio. These Old Time Radio programs include such classics as Jack Benny, Suspense, Gunsmoke, Lux Theater, Dragnet and a whole lot more. They all have a Christmas or holiday theme and we will run them through New Year’s Eve. We really hope you enjoy these old classic programs for the holiday.

Check out our special holiday programming!

 

Gunsmoke: “I will not tolerate a disturbance. You know me.”

Forget everything you know, or think you know, about Matt Dillon and Kitty and Doc.  This radio series which ran for nine years was meant to be an adult-oriented western that broke the mold and challenged the archetypal Western hero.  The creators, Norman MacDonnell and John Meston wanted to shatter all Western stereotypes.  They were successful.

The result was Gunsmoke.

The first audition was a hardboiled detective story set in the West. The main character was “Mark Dillon.”¬† The second audition was more Western-oriented but then the project sat on the shelf and gathered dust for two years.¬† Eventually, a radio actor named William Conrad read for the part and was immediately hired as the show moved into production.

Everybody has an idea of the type of man Matt Dillon is. Whether it be from the television show or national iconic status, everybody knows what kind of man he is and what he believes in and how he deals with people.¬† Forget all that. In the radio program, Matt Dillon is damn near a psychopath.¬† He’s as hard and brutal as the violent men who pass through Dodge City from the cow trails.¬† He’s acerbic and bitter and when his gun hand moves, it moves in a blur.

The writing portrays this all the time. In one episode a man comes up to Dillon out of the dark.¬† “Some night I’ll get drunk enough to pull on you you, Dillon.”

Long pause, and delivered with conviction:¬† “Then that’s the night you’re gonna die.”

Or:

“If you’re figuring to draw on me, don’t.”

“Why not, Matt?”

“I’ve seen you in action. You’re not fast enough.”

And Dillon is always shouting at the rubbernecking crowds, telling them to shut up or he’ll club them to death, or threatening them he will NOT tolerate a disturbance, or asking with clenched teeth when they don’t disperse fast enough, “Who wants to die first?”

Yeah, he’s a psychopath barely holding himself together, nerves made of barbed wire and a soul of scarred leather.¬† The radio series establishes this at the beginning.¬† Dillon is a violent man who has moved West with violence.¬† He is hard and brutal; life, and his job, made him that way.¬† He is completely different from anything you have seen on the television program.

And Kitty Russell?¬† It was never implied on the television series she was a prostitute.¬† But if you knew anything about the Old West you knew what she did for a living.¬† The radio show is very different from TV.¬† Kitty’s not a prostitute on the Old Time Radio series.¬† She’s a whore. I find this incredible.¬† You’re talking about 1952 and it’s cut and dried: Kitty sells herself to other men and Dillon is in love with her. And if you say something bad about her, well, you’d better start digging your grave.¬† Fascinating with what they got away with on radio, but couldn’t even touch, or allude to, on television.

Doc Adams?¬† He’s a gibbering ghoul who rubs his hands over a corpse because he’s going to be paid an autopsy fee. He was played by Howard McNear, the same actor who played Floyd the Barber on The Andy Griffith Show.¬† His soft spoken voice and gleeful nature as he pokes and prods at a cadaver is very disturbing.

Sound effects, as you might guess, are essential in radio.¬† Gunsmoke was famous for layering sound to create the emptiness of the prairie, the dust-filled streets of Dodge, the cold wind blowing through the stunted trees, the sound of the night train coming into Dodge.¬† When you hear a gunshot on the radio program that’s an authentic weapon: carbine, six gun, scatter gun, being fired.¬† It’s all authentic, even the animal life was meticulously researched.

As the show progresses it begins to concentrate on the human relationships between the principal characters with violence and adult sex as an undercurrent theme.¬† But as good as it is, the acting, the emotive voices, the incredible sound effects, the stark characterization…nothing beats the writing itself.

John Meston wrote about 25% of the episodes. He accurately portrays the harsh brutality of what life was like in an unforgettably harsh and graphic manner.¬† Dillon doesn’t always win in the end. In one episode he amputates the leg of a man to save him from blood poisoning.¬† The man dies anyway. In another, a girl is raped for weeks by four men.¬† Dillon rescues her, but she becomes a prostitute.¬† Sometimes the bad guy gets away completely.¬† In one story, an entire family is slaughtered and the wife kicked to death.¬† Dillon finds her daughter in a copse of dark trees, raped and killed and scalped. Chester stands over the body and weeps.

These aren’t feel good stories. They’re stories.¬† Therein lie their power.

As a writer I like to think I know something about writing. But I’ve learned more by listening to these programs than in all the years I’ve been writing professionally.¬† Maybe that says something about me, but I think it speaks more to the power of these stories and what they ultimately reveal about human nature and all its brutality.

If you want to learn how to write, if you are a writer and want to learn more about theory and characterization and stark dialog, I strongly urge you to give some of these episodes a listen.¬† You won’t be disappointed.

One final note. Those who know about the creative process of my own western series, Haxan, know how much of an influence Gunsmoke had on me. I can’t think of a better inspiration throughout the entire genre than John Meston’s creation.

Dragnet – Old Time Radio that delivers stark violence and murder for adults

I am always amazed at how “adult” OTR is compared to the sanitized candycorn of TV from the same era. Or even compared to many commercial television programs slopping their sugar water today. One such example is Dragnet. The old radio programs are very brutal and violent, very different from the watered down television programs of the same name. Though, to be fair, the tight, spare dialog, which was always the hallmark of Dragnet, remains in force.

All too often I thought the TV Dragnet was preachy and more interested in pushing a flag-waving erection bursting meme of “USA and LAW ENFORCEMENT HELL YEAH!” than delivering solid writing that examines the deep fractures in a human soul. Well, that’s TV for you. But if there’s any meme being preached in the OTR series it’s that violence is an ineluctable part of human nature and the world is a ceaseless shithole of blood, degradation, and grisly murder. That’s what the OTR Dragnet is about.

If your only familiarity with Dragnet and Joe Friday is the TV series then you are gonna be surprised at these old radio programs, I think.

Theater 13 Radio is currently running a Dragnet marathon. Click on the banner below and it will take you directly to the main website where you can find the .pls or download a media player of your choice. Theater 13 is also on StreamFinder, TuneIn and other radio sites. Google is your friend!

If you haven’t listened to these tightly written and uncompromising programs you might do well as a writer, or just a crime/mystery/suspense fan, to give ’em a try. Enjoy!

Theater 13 Radio

Theater 13 Radio Broadcasting OTR Horror, Mystery, and Suspense on 100 Channels!

Theater 13 Radio has upgraded. We are now broadcasting Old Time Radio programming on 100 channels. We hope this will alleviate any bottlenecking issues listeners experienced when they tried to log on with our old 50 channel system. We are still broadcasting at 24K and are considering an upgrade there as well.

Do you like Old Time Radio? We are your one stop for vintage Horror, Suspense and Dark Fantasy radio programming. Please, check us out and don’t forget to bookmark our site. And please tell your friends! ūüôā

Come join Mistress Zarella for the finest in Old Time Radio programming!

Audiobooks, Futurism, and the Mythical Power of Storytelling

It’s difficult bringing me into the modern age. I¬†admit that. And those who are committed to bringing me up to speed with technology have their work cut out for them. The fools.

I have a cell phone. I rarely turn it on (as people in my personal life can attest) because when I¬†do it often beeps at me and I¬†get worried. I’ve seen WAY too many 1950s SF movies where shit beeps at you and then you die.¬† Mostly from giant vegetables or over-sized insects that view you as a passing meat snack. And who needs that?

When audio books first made an appearance I¬†wasn’t too keen on them. I’m old-fashioned in a lot of ways. (Or just old.) I¬†still like the feel and weight of books, the pungent smell of ink and the crisp feel of paper between my fingers when I turn the page.

I also remember when stamps were six cents and the mail was delivered twice a day.¬† Verily, I¬†say unto you, I could mail a letter in-city that morning and it would be delivered the same day!¬† I remember Jonny Quest cartoons when they were new. I remember Johnny Carson when he was in New York and not California. I¬†remember when milk came in bottles instead of cartons. Hell, I¬†remember drive-in movies and ten cents would buy you a Snickers bar or a bag of Red Hots so big when you ate them all you’d puke.¬† And I¬†remember Charlton Heston when he wasn’t a wanker.

Like I said.  Old.

Anyhoo. Back to audio books. So like I¬†said I wasn’t a fan. I’d rather read a book than listen to it. But a couple of weeks ago I¬†got this iPod thing with 120 GB of memory on it. I mean, seriously, why would I ever need that? All the music I¬†have wouldn’t fill that F’er up. Then I¬†had a brain wave. Why not put all my radio shows, Gunsmoke, X-1, Tarzan, Suspense and the like, on the iPod? Then I¬†can carry ’em around with me everywhere I go. Hey, not a bad idea. And then my writing buddy talked me into downloading this free application called Stanza to actually read (read!) an electronic book on this iPod thingy-ma-jig. (I haven’t quite figured out how to do that, though.)

I was pretty adament about what audio books I¬†was going to listen to. I’m too entrenched in my ways. I¬†wasn’t going to listen to something new so I¬†decided to listen to the old Ian Fleming novels. Now those of you who have read my journal know James Bond was a big influence on me when I¬†was twelve and thirteen years old. Although, in the interest of full disclosure, what isn’t a big influence on you when you’re that age? But I’ve read these novels many, many times and I¬†knew them quite well.¬†I¬†supposed it wouldn’t be too heretical for me to listen to ’em if I¬†had the chance. Might be fun to see them through a new lens, so to speak.

And you know what? They’re not that bad. I¬†don’t mean the novels themselves, I¬†mean the whole audio book experience. Not surprising seeing as how I’m an Old Time Radio buff. But after thinking about this I¬†think it goes deeper than that.

It goes to story.

You see, the first story tellers didn’t write their tales. They told them around a campfire while everyone sat huddled not for warmth but so there would be human contact as the story lifted them and brought them into a new world they hadn’t seen before.

I¬†imagine that was some pretty scary shit when it went down the first time. It’s still kind of scary when you think about it, how we let the scales of our life fall from our bodies as we’re transported somewhere and somewhen else by a book or magazine or old time radio show.¬† We give up being ourselves and trust the story teller to turn us into someone else and bring us back when it’s done. That’s pretty damn powerful when you think about it.

They were the same stories we read today, though. Stories about people trying to make their way in the world. Finding love. Finding destiny. Finding home. Nothing’s changed about stories since we first started telling them to one another.¬† And despite all the technology and knowledge we cocoon ourselves in nothing much has changed about us, either.

Human beings LOVE stories. We like hearing a good story about other people even if the other people aren’t very nice. Writing, radio, audio books, print, CDs, DVDs, cuneiform, whatever. You pick. The method by which the stories are expressed is always changing and will always be changing.¬† But the stories and their intimate relation to what makes us human…that endures.

It endures because we’re human and stories, to be considered successful, must also be human. If they aren’t then they’re no longer stories.

So now I¬†see the attraction of audio books. It’s the same reason I¬†love OTR. It’s the spoken voice, the human connection of a story teller relating something different to me, helping me integrate a past world or a future world or a life or a philosophy that is new to me. It’s the connection of a human voice in your ear rather than the inner voice you use when you read to yourself. Both are valid. Both are important.

But I’m beginning to think one holds greater power over the other. In fact, I¬†don’t think they’re in the same ball field at all.

One last thing. People are obviously willing to pay as much for an audio book as I¬†would for a print novel. Wouldn’t there be a market for brand new radio shows as well? Not podcasts. I¬†mean, not stories being read, but stories being acted out by actors with sound effects and whatnot? If audio books have shown us anything they’ve shown us that if the quality of the product is good enough (and sometimes even if it isn’t) there will be an eager market.¬† So why haven’t we seen this other manifestation yet?

I was wrong about audio books. But it’s not about the audio books. It’s what’s going on with the stories themselves that I failed to see. I¬†should have known better. I¬†profess to be a professional writer but I¬†missed this big time.

I¬†won’t make the same mistake again.

How I Created Theater 13 Radio, and Why

When I was thirteen I used to listen to a black and white transistor radio tucked under my pillow. One night I found a Chicago station and heard The CBS Radio Mystery Theater hosted by E.G. Marshall.

Just like that I was hooked. I fell in love with radio dramas and wanted to hear more.

Popular for its time, CBSRMT was a modern program aired by CBS during the late 70s and early 80s and produced by Himan Brown. It was an attempt to recapture the magic of Old Time Radio. When we moved from Illinois I always made it a point to find a station that aired this program so I could continue listening, and I would often ask my grandparents what they remembered of OTR.

As an adult I discovered real OTR, old time radio, and its fans. I began to collect and research these old programs and listen to them whenever I could. As a professional writer I saw the intrinsic value of these radio shows beyond their nostalgic worth. I knew I could learn a lot from these programs on how to write a tight cohesive story, and I did.

I really hope you like the classic programs I am bringing to you now, and I hope you come to love them and hold them as dear as I do, and will, for my entire life.

Theater 13 -- Old Time Radio Beyond the Extraordinary

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