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 nineteen-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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