Posts Tagged ‘radio serial’

Disney Revives Radio Serial Format

June 30, 2010

Disney is know for reinventing or revitalizing media on a regular basis. Decades ago, it was Steamboat Willie, the cartoon short that introduced a certain mouse we all know. More recently, High School Musical has taken the televised musical from risky to mainstream in record time. Now it seems Disney is preparing to breathe life back into the old school radio serial.

“My Dream,” is slated to run for twenty episodes beginning next week on Radio Disney. The story follows a 14-year-old girl, Kayla, as she pursues her dream of becoming a singer and songwriter.

More details according to David Bauder of The Associated Press:

A new episode debuts each weekday at 9:25 a.m. on Radio Disney. Listeners who miss them can hear the 90-second episodes later on the station’s website or via mobile phone.

The idea recalls serials that were popular in the early days of radio, a format that was essentially destroyed when television arrived. Radio Disney says it will wait to see how the first serial fares before committing to others, said Ray De La Garza, the network’s vice president of programming.

“We thought, `let’s create something that can keep the kids entertained and wanting to come back day after day,'” De La Garza said.

Full disclosure here: I’m a big fan of the old-fashioned radio serials. That being the case, I’m excited to see Disney doing this. While the subject matter may be a bit youthful for me personally, I think that Disney has the best chance to revive the format. I also think that with all the brouhaha about music royalties lately, many stations might be more willing to experiment with audio plays and serials like this.

What do you think? Is the time ripe for a return to the serials of old?

Image: CURZU@ / CC 2.0

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RIP Lois Lane: Radio Actress Joan Stanton Passes

May 26, 2009

superboyI’ll be the first to admit it: I am a child of pop culture, raised in the the 70s and 80s. I have consumed more than my fair share of comic books, and at an early age discovered the classic radio serials of the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. My father had grown up on them and constantly hunted for the old stuff on LP or tape.

As a result The Shadow and Superman in particular became favorites for me, imbued with a sense of traveling in time by the anachronistic commercials (which even then I found often as entertaining as the serials themselves). At one point I had most of the original run of the Superman radio serial (1940-1951) on cassette.

In honor of the place these audio adventures have held for me, some of the first important radio experiences of my youth, I would like to take a moment to mourn the passing of the original Lois Lane.

The spunky female reporter has become an archetype largely due to the early portrayals done by Ms. Stanton over the course of a decade.

You wont hear the name Joan Stanton in the credits if you listen to those old episodes. In the 40’s  she performed under the name of Joan Alexander, and voiced the iconic reporter throughout the series’ run.

Bruce Webber at the New York Times writes:

The show began in 1940, two years after Superman was introduced in comic-book form, and continued on the radio in various formats until 1951, doing much to establish the character as the quintessential American superhero. Lois Lane first appeared in the seventh episode, and though most sources indicate that Mrs. Stanton was not the first actress cast — Superman was played by Bud Collyer — she landed the part early in the show’s tenure and was heard in hundreds of episodes, becoming the identifiable radio Lois of lore.

It is hard to think of a more universally recognized image than Superman. Even if you have never read the comic, heard the radio show, seen the movies, etc., you recognize the outfit. You probably also know who Lois Lane and Lex Luthor are. This is because these heroes are part of the fabric of our cultural tapestry, taking the places once held by myths and legends by treating the classic archetypes in a modern way.

The era of the radio serial was instrumental in helping this come about. I am sorry to hear of Ms. Stanton’s passing and have only the best wishes to her surviving family: her daughter Jane Stanton Hitchcock, a writer who lives in New York and Washington, her son, Tim, of Manhattan, and a grandson, Liam.

You will be missed!

Photo courtesy of Phil Scoville, used under its Creative Commons license