Posts Tagged ‘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

Into The Future (Circa 1932)

November 10, 2008

buckrogers

It is no secret that I am a science fiction buff; my colleague Doug Zanger ribs me about it as often as I rib him about his sports obsession. It is this trait that brings you today’s post. We’ve just seen an anniversary go by. Last week was the 76th Anniversary of the show that would eventually be renamed Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

For fifteen years, the sounds of death rays and robots, missiles and spaceships thrilled listeners across America. The iconic space hero graduated from the daily comic strips to the dramatic and wonderful world of audio with a bang (and a zotz! and a bleep!).

Via Randy Alfred of Wired:

Buck’s psychic destruction ray was really a Schick electric razor held at just the right distance from the microphone. The sound effects crew could also simulate anything from a regiment of marching robots to a scary rocket-ship crash.

He also notes the innovative means of promotion used:

The show debuted the night before Franklin D. Roosevelt trounced incumbent President Herbert Hoover in the presidential election. It was an instant hit, in no small measure due to the premiums listeners could get by sending in cereal boxtops or other proofs of purchase. Gifts included a map of the planets, a cardboard space helmet and Big Little Books (3-5/8 inches by 4-1/2 inches) of Buck Rogers comics.

In honor of the anniversary, I have hunted down a website where one can listen to these radio classics in their entirety online in the RealMedia format. I’ll confess the hunt was not that hard since the recordings are located on Buck-Rogers.com. What is nice is the additional commentary on the premiums that is found on the accompanying page of their site. Keep in mind as you read it that this is the Depression Era that is being referenced.

Underscoring the program’s phenomenal popularity was the response to mail-order gifts offered to listeners. An initial offering of a map of the planets brought 125,000 requests. A subsequent offering of a cardboard space helmet was made more difficult to get, with the proviso that a metal seal from a can of Cocomalt, the show’s sponsor, had to accompany the request. Depression-era children nevertheless sent in more than 140,000 strips of tin for the highly desirable premium, which has since become an extremely rare and valuable collectors’ item.

Now that is a testament to both the power of radio both as a medium and during bad economic times. Something to consider as we look to the weeks ahead. Now, go give them a listen!

Photo courtesy of Big Pru, used under its Creative Commons license