Posts Tagged ‘audio drama’

RIP Himan Brown: The Storyteller Has Left The Building

June 11, 2010
Dick Tracy

Dick Tracy

You might not know who Himan Brown is off the top of your head, but I’ll bet you’ve run across his works. You see, Mr. Brown was one of the wizards of radio storytelling and a huge proponent of “the theater of the mind.”

His works included Dick Tracy, Inner Sanctum Mysteries, The Adventures of the Thin Man, Grand Central Station, and many, many more. Over the decades, he worked with giants like Boris Karloff and Orson Welles.

Raised in Brooklyn by Russian immigrant parents, he completed law school but then decided to follow his creative urges. Deepti Hajeela from The Associated Press tells us more:

He had good timing: The 1930s and 1940s were part of the years when radio was most popular. Shows of all kinds could be found all over the radio dial, and popular shows were must-hear appointments for many Americans.

Even as television came into prominence in the middle of the 20th century, Brown remained a firm believer in the power of radio. In 1974, he started “CBS Radio Mystery Theater,” a nightly radio program that ran until the early 1980s.

“Radio drama is the most potent form of theater I know,” he told the alumni newsletter of Grady College at the University of Georgia in 1994. “It gives you an experience no other form of theater — movies and television — can duplicate. It’s the theater of the mind.”

Mr. Brown proved with his work on CBS Radio Mystery Theater that audio drama is still viable, it just needs to be done well. I would argue that we may well see a resurgence of it in the future. After all, many people who drive a lot are fans of audio books, some of which these days are performed by a full cast.

As we become more and more mobile and more connected at the same time, I think  we will see a return to the art and craft of Himan Brown.  Improvements in mobile devices and radio streaming allow room for more access, and that at a time when we want entertainment but are visually engaged.

Mr. Brown has left the building, and he will be missed. What he termed “the theater of the mind” is seeing an era of increased potential. I think he would be pleased by that.

Image: Fabbio / CC 2.0

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The Tome of Terror Returns

October 30, 2008

“We’re going to skip ahead to the dismemberment,” director Ari Herbstman said at an Oct. 21 rehearsal. Mare Freed raised a rusty hatchet. On cue, she brought it down viciously – on a pumpkin.

So begins Danielle Dreilinger’s article on Boston.com about The Post-Meridian Radio Players, a novel group of radio dramatists gearing up for Friday’s spooky holiday. Foley Artists and voice talent join forces to bring the chills and thrills into your living room, and what talent indeed:

Stephen King meets Garrison Keillor in “Tomes of Terror III,” the fourth Halloween “staged-radio thrillology.” The show – which is produced for a live studio audience and will be podcast, but not broadcast – includes an episode of the classic radio sitcom “The Baby Snooks Show,” a creepy folktale, and “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe.

Tomes of Terror III embraces the classic tradition of spooky stories on Halloween night. As my colleague Doug Zanger and I have talked about in the past, radio is one of the great strongholds of oral narrative. While not as popular stateside as it once was, this type of entertainment still has quite a following overseas.

I am quite a fan of well done audio dramas ranging from the classic programs of the ’30s and ’40s like The Shadow to the more modern efforts of the BBC such as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (Trivia note: while you may have seen the big budget film or read the books, The Hitchhiker’s Guide had its genesis as a radio program. It was not until years later that Douglas Adams novelized it.) I also agree with the article’s author that we will see an increase in this sort of entertainment driven by iPods and other personal audio devices.

Stay Tuned for a very special Halloween post tomorrow!

Photo courtesy of WxMom, used under its Creative Commons license