And In The Beginning There Was A Quiet Dessert Town…
Audio drama is having somewhat of a renaissance right now. Like many people in love with this new wave of aural pleasure, Welcome to Night Vale (WTNV) was my gateway podcast. The one that took an age old format and made it feel new again. They pushed the boundaries of what was possible to achieve in 20 odd minutes, with amazing voice talent, some good music and a couple of handfuls of sound effects. WTNV opened the flood gates for audio dramas and boy did a lot of talent pour through them.
Of course, audio drama is not a new medium, not by a long shot. Story telling by spoken word is as old as the human race. The longest running audio drama is BBC4’s ‘The Archers’, which has been on air since 1951 and has broadcast over 18,000 episodes. But in a world where we are attached to screens and visual story telling, through TV, film and games, is the norm, audio drama is a breath of fresh air; allowing the listener to flex those imagination muscles once more.
You only have to check out #AudioDramaSunday on any given Sunday on twitter to find all kinds of treasures waiting for you. You will also discover what a creative and kind bunch the creators are, their fan engagement is second to none. Not only that but the podcasts engagement with each other, watching the interactions from the sidelines (not creepy at all) makes me feel like the last year or so has been the start of something amazing.
Over the course of the coming weeks I will be guiding you through some of the audio drama podcasts that have kept me gripped late into the night, made me laugh on long commutes, entertained me in the kitchen while cooking and scared me while on long walks with the dog.
This week I will be taking you to therapy with The Bright Sessions and to the quiet mountain town for King Falls AM.
The Bright Sessions
Created, written and directed by Lauren Shippen, The Bright Sessions is a science fiction podcast presented under the guise of therapy sessions. Each episode is centered on one of Dr Bright’s patients, all of whom have unusual supernatural abilities. The sessions focus on three patients, Sam, Caleb and Chloe, and over each session you’ll hear their struggles, anxieties, fears and follows them as they learn to control their powers (which I won’t reveal here, spoilers sweetie). The mystery of who Dr Bright is and what makes someone set up as a therapist for the strange and unusual, is enough to make this a binge listen.
This podcast is impeccably acted and produced, it is easy to forget you are listening to a performance. So captivating is the story, you actually feel like you are listening in on therapy sessions. Now is a perfect time to start as it has just finished its second season. I am heavily emotionally invested in the well being of these characters, so hurry back Dr B!
King Falls AM
If you love quick fire pop culture references, horror, aliens, small town politics, ghosts, insults that will make you have to rewind to make sure you caught it, fishing tournaments, belly laughs and a compelling story, look no further than King Falls AM! Produced by the Make Believe Picture Company, King Falls AM is a bi-monthly visit to a late night radio talk show in the sleepy mountain town of King Falls. Hosted by Sammy Stevens and Ben ‘Benny’ Arnold, each episode gives you an insight into the strange goings on in a town that is equal parts Twin Peaks, Eerie, Indiana, Eureka and Stars Hollow.
At first I was a little worried that this was a WTNV knock off (radio show x weird little town) but it’s really not, it’s much, much more than that. The chemistry between Sammy and Ben is electric. The inhabitants of the town who call in to help (or hinder) our beloved hosts are well rounded and hilarious and the over arching story lines are both gripping and heartbreaking. If I could move to King Falls, I would. They had my heart forever when they snuck a cheeky Empire Records reference into an episode. Seriously, the pop culture zingers go by so fast you’ll be lucky to catch them all on your first listen.
If you want to get a head start on some of the ones I’ll be writing about in future weeks check out: Tanis, Hello From The Magic Tavern, EOS 10, Limetown, The Black Tapes, Return Home, Wolf 359, Alice isn’t Dead and The Bridge. This list is not exhaustive, just the ones I will be covering imminently – you can also find them all on twitter on my Podcrastination list.