Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Radio drama, which had its greatest popularity in the U. S. and in most other countries before the widespread access to television programming, depends on dialogue, music and sound effects to help the listener imagine the story in her or his "mind's eye"--in this sense, it resembles reading in some ways more than audio/visual drama. In the television era, some audio drama has been produced and marketed that owes much to radio drama, without ever being broadcast on radio; Caedmon Records's extensive list of audio-only productions of famous plays is an example.
Among the most famous radio dramas are Under Milk Wood, a 'Play for Voices' by Dylan Thomas, and Orson Welles's version of The War of the Worlds, which convinced large numbers of listeners that an actual invasion from Mars was taking place.
Radio drama remains popular in much of the world. Many film, stage and TV writers got their start in radio drama, including Tom Stoppard and Caryl Churchill. Broadcasters that produce radio drama often commission a large number of scripts. The relatively low cost of producing a radio play enables them to take chances with works by unknown writers. Radio is a good training medium for drama writers as the words written form a much greater part of the finished product; bad lines cannot be obscured with 'stage business'.
The lack of visuals also enable fantastical settings and effects to be used in radio plays where the cost would be prohibitive in a visual medium. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was first produced as radio drama, and was not adapted for television until much later, when its popularity would ensure an appropriate return for the high cost of the futuristic setting.
On occasion television series can be revived as radio series. For example a long-running but no longer popular television series can be continued as a radio series because the reduced production costs make it cost-effective with a much smaller audience. When an organisation owns both television and radio channels, such as the BBC, the fact that no royalties have to be paid makes this even more attractive. Radio revivals can also use actors reprising their television roles even after decades as they still sound roughly the same. Series that have had this treatment include Doctor Who, Dad's Army and Thunderbirds.
Radio plays often include the work of Shakespeare and other playwrights.
Radio dramas can be regularly heard on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio 1, RTE in Ireland and the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC 7, Radio 4 and Radio 3. The commercial station Oneword, though broadcasting mostly book readings, also has some radio plays in instalments. Radio drama can also be found on ACB radio produced by the American Council of the Blind . The networks sometime sell transcripts of their shows on cassette tapes or CDs or make the shows available for listening or downloading over the Internet.
Transcription recordings of many pre-television shows have been preserved. They are collected, re-recorded onto audio CDs and/or MP3 files and traded by hobbyists today as old-time radio programs.
- Adventures in Odyssey
- Amos 'n' Andy
- The Black Mass
- CBS Radio Mystery Theater
- Dimension X; later X Minus One
- The General Mills Radio Adventure Theater; later CBS Radio Adventure Theater
- The Goon Show
- The Green Hornet
- Inner Sanctum
- Left Behind
- The Life of Riley
- Lights Out
- The Lone Ranger
- The Lord of the Rings (BBC radio version)
- Lum and Abner
- Lux Radio Theater
- Mercury Theatre On The Air
- The National Radio Theater of Chicago
- The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
- Nick Danger ; see also Firesign Theater, Dear Friends
- NPR Playhouse
- Quiet Please
- Sears Radio Theater; later Mutual Radio Theater
- Star Wars (radio version)
- The Shadow
- CBC radio drama home page
- BBC Radio 4 drama page
- BBC Play of the Week (RealAudio streaming)
- Mercury Theatre on the Air website provides all of the famous Orson Welles radio dramas in RealAudio and MP3.
- The Live365 netstation hub has many stations that broadcast the old-time radio dramas.
- Seeing Ear Theatre provides MP3 files of contemporary dramas on a science-fiction theme.
- Graymatters Old Time Radio Streaming Links Web Page
- Epguides UK radio show episode guide
- Soundstage -- radio theatre from WMNF in Tampa
- Offramp - improvised radio theatre
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