Cheap Thrills: The Audio Drama Edition

Cheap Thrills: The Audio Drama Edition


Where has the audience gone?

That is the increasingly terrified cry in Hollywood.  In past times, if one form of media lost customers, you didn’t have too much trouble figuring out where they went. Which was to another form of media.  In the twenties radio bit in to publishing.   In the fifties box-office receipts for weeknight showings, dropped severely, while the number of TVs in homes increased.  CD sales fell through the basement at the same time that iPods started appearing under Christmas trees.  DVD sales crashed about the time Netflix started offering this new service called “streaming.”

But now, there is a very worrying trend.  The media consumer isn’t watching broadcast TV, isn’t watching movies (obviously), but streaming service numbers are dropping too. 

The most obvious answer is probably the right one.  75% of Americans use YouTube.  

But there is also another venue whose numbers are still rising.  The humble podcast.

The following stats are from Vulture, so no, I’m not giving them a link

“41% of the total U.S. population over the age of twelve, or an estimated 116 million Americans, can now be considered monthly podcast listeners, up from 37% the year before.”

“28% of the total U.S. population, or an estimated 80 million Americans, can now be considered habitual weekly podcast listeners, up from 24% the year before.”

“Meanwhile, podcast familiarity — that is, the extent to which Americans are aware of the medium — continued to grow, present among 78% of the total U.S. population, or an estimated 222 million Americans, up from 75% the year before.”

That is pretty good news for our side.  There is no getting around it, professional dramatic production aren’t cheap.  They don’t have to cost what Disney spends on them.  The Corridor Crew has repeatedly proved that. 

But that said, resources have to be expended and that means risk.

Whereas with a podcast the expense is minimal by comparison.  And it sure as hell doesn’t have to be 25 minutes of political diatribe, interviews, news interpretation or education.  Entertainment podcasts are on the rise.  Welcome to podcast theater.

The following are a few podcasts that let you know the potential of what’s out there.  Bear in mind, no, these aren’t our people.  This is just a demonstration of potential.

Red Valley

This series is all about suspense. It’s British with a lot chills and lot of humor. It kind of reminds me of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in their Cornetto days.

A Voice From Darkness

This one is in the form of radio call-in show about the supernatural. Doctor Malcom Ryder doesn’t help with things like, “I think my house might be haunted.” He handles things that are extreme.

Nocturnal Transmissions

This is a more straightforward reading of classic and contemporary horror stories. It does feature the voice actor from A Voice From Darkness, except that here is allowed to chew the scenery. And by chew I mean gorge.

Bonus, at the turn of the century, the Sci-Fi Channel had an audio theatrical company that was the best since Orson Wells’ Radio Mercury Theater. Seeing Ear Theater

Sadly, it arrived a little too early. It was streaming from Sci-Fi’s website in the twilight days of AOL. They didn’t go in for downloads and they couldn’t really figure out how to make a profit with it. But its catalog of science fiction and fantasy audio drama was huge. A lot of the actors were somebodies in the early 2000s. A lot of stories were by mainstream writers back when that wasn’t something to avoid like the plague.

Pretty much all of the rights drifted into public domain a while back. Sadly, some of the shows are lost media but most of them are HERE and they are free.


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Comments (5)

  • Dave W. Reply

    Wow. Thanks for this, there’s a lot of interesting stuff in there. Bookmarking it for later. Lot of recognizable names. I saw Bronson Pinchot’s name scroll by. He does a lot of audiobook narration now and he’s REALLY good. He knocks Larry Correia’s Grimnoir Chronicles series out of the park.

    May 13, 2021 at 11:17 pm
    • Robert W Reply

      +1 for Hard Magic series on audible. Bronson crushes it.

      May 18, 2021 at 5:30 pm
  • Silent Draco Reply

    And the winner is: “Narrowcast radio”

    A podcast is a narrowcast product, from source to listener, as opposed to broadcast. MP3 or low-loss formats take considerably less bandwidth than video. Sound is far easier to work with. No large cast, no CGI, special effects, cameras, light bars and spots …

    Audio podcasts also push your imagination, with sound effects (many are public domain or easy Foley items) to set a scene and punctuate. I hear the heavy WHOOSH of massive metal bars moving, and an awful Crunch! sound, as the Devil Mouse’s leg is caught.

    May 14, 2021 at 11:37 am
  • Star Tripper Reply

    Thanks for links. I found all the Ian Fleming 007 books on Youtube read by David Rintoul. Great to listen to while gardening or just having a cigar and an adult beverage. It is hilarious to listen to Bond’s (really Fleming’s) take on various ethnic groups and particularly women. Bond’s usual response when a woman get’s in his way is to threaten to spank them. His observations in Goldfinger about homosexuals would also make modern heads explode. Wonderful fun.

    May 15, 2021 at 3:18 pm
  • Bies Podkrakowski Reply

    Horror Babble: is quite good. Lovecraft, Howard, Clark Ashton Smith and others.

    May 17, 2021 at 9:34 pm

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