Monday, June 21, 2010

The threat to radio drama

In The Guardian, Leo Benedictus asks if Radio 4's decision to axe the Friday Play is the beginning of the end for radio drama.
...podcasts still offer genuine hope. (If there's no DIY revolution in radio drama as yet, it's because amateurs do not generally do drama well.) The BBC has only recently begun to podcast The Archers, where it is thriving. And the rumour is that other dramas will follow soon. "Lots of writers and practitioners want to know, 'Why can't I have my play podcast? I know my friends would listen to it,'" says [Alison] Hindell [the BBC's head of audio drama.] "I would love to be in a position where we were podcasting a play of the week."

[Jeremy] Howe [Radio 4's drama commissioner], is keen to see this, too – though he remains adamant that, despite its travails, radio drama is in good health. "Audiences are now consuming things in a completely different way," he says. "Actually, the miracle is that audiences for Radio 4, and drama, have remained roughly stable for the last 12 years. The same," he cannot resist adding, "cannot be said of television channels." No, it can't. But radio can surely dream of better.Who knows: with more podcasts and some fresh writing blood, radio drama might one day rule the airwaves again.

3 comments:

  1. Great find - I find the "DIY revolution" comments pretty interesting, since in the next breath he mentions the treasure trove of great audio programming coming out of the podcast market. I don't know what else to call it but a revolution!

    While it's still a tough road for audio drama from a professional perspective (less money than ever and few "traditional" media outlets willing to play it), the internet has made it a whole new world.

    - Fred

    FinalRune Productions -
    Radio Drama Revival

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  2. Radio New Zealand has been making their drama available online for the last couple of years - a boon for listeners who miss the two or so broadcasts each drama gets on ye olde airwaves.

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  3. We've been making the In The Gloaming podcasts (http://inthegloamingpodcasts.wordpress.com ) since late last year, using under-employed radio comedy professionals in their 'down time'. They came from an idea I'd taken to lots of production companies, all of whom said they liked it but that it would be too expensive to produce an anthology horror-comedy series.

    Off the back of a 'donate' button (and we have had a number of enquiries from people wanting to buy CDs, I just haven't managed to organise that yet...) we have made enough money to cover the website costs, podcast hosting costs, and to cover our entry for the Sony Radio Academy Awards. However, the performers, technician, and I all still work on them for free.

    However, one episode has been broadcast on Canadian radio, episodes have been sent on CDs of audio drama to soldiers in Afghanistan, we were asked to perform live at the World Horror Convention, and we have a two-week run at the Arundel Festival in August. We've also been nominated for two Parsec Awards.

    So, it appears that the revenue streams might not be that dissimilar to those from live music, in that what is most profitable for us at the moment is live performance, and the podcasts are an effective way of building a market for that.

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