Radio Plays

Today I’ll move away from the screen and focus on another favorite medium of mine, the radio.

As a child, I loved listening to the radio, for hours and hours, followed those voices that smoothed my heart and caressed my soul. I fell in love with knowledgeable hosts and reporters, music programs, and most of all, plays recorded for the radio.

I adored that feeling of getting absorbed by a good tale, preferably whodunits. I closed my eyes and was right there, in the world of a suspenseful story, with my favorite characters, feared for them or cheered. The sound of an opening door stopped my heart, the buzz of a doorbell turned my head and gunshots made me shriek. I loved to use my headphones to increase the effect, to lie down on the couch or the floor and feel the adventure surrounding me. I craved to be right in the middle of it, to run along and solve the case. At some point I often knew who the murderer was, just like my heroes, but my heart didn’t stop bouncing with anxiety until they were safe and justice had prevailed.

Today, I still enjoy listening in – now on my iPod to catch those old-school favorites of mine. iTunes offers a variety of gems, misleadingly offered as podcasts: Perry Mason, Old Time Mystery Radio or Radio Detective Story Hour – take your pick and enjoy. It’s free, just like radio used to be.

The spell still works for me – an hour or two of Perry Mason on the radio and I am bewitched, hold my breath, giggle or cry out to my favorite lawyer to watch out for Della or himself. I especially like those original recordings, even though the quality is sometimes rough – back in the days, when they still had radio actors, the cast and crew knew how to keep me on the edge on my seat while new recordings often sound airy, lifeless and simply not dramatic enough. One of the many things we seem to have forgotten, how to tell stories with intensity and passion, but minus the explicit.

Like in those classic movies, insinuations do so much more for you, a crime that’s mentioned or hinted at rather than shown. The effect can be so much more draining, those little tricks our imagination is playing when we feel haunted by a mix of words and scary atmosphere. It advances our creativity.

There’s a reason why we like to sit and listen to our parents telling us stories as children. Not only do we learn their language, we also dive into a whole new world, one that was created by their voices and comes to live in our heads. We form images to the words we hear, see the setting, faces, colors – nothing can top that movie in our head because in our mind we don’t have to make compromises about how people look, feel or smell, how a place is built or a wall is painted. Our imagination doesn’t know those kinds of limitations unless we’ve never learned to unravel that potential.

I am happy to have grown up with all kinds of creative input: radio, books and classic films. Every medium triggered a different fondness and an insight into another world. Radio plays made me fall in love with voices and the quality of witty dialogue. Now the internet, as a “new” medium provides me with a chance to dive back into those. How beautiful is that?!

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2 thoughts on “Radio Plays

    • Excellent, Martin, thank you so much! Some of them look like the available podcasts on iTunes, but there are also episodes I definitely didn’t have thus far. 🙂 And I always greatly appreciate new findings of classic Perry Mason. 🙂
      And Dragnet is on my watch list and now on my radio list, too. Thanks for mentioning the program and thus reminding me of it! 🙂

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