Bob Tinsley: Adventures in Audio Drama

Chapter 1
by Bob Tinsley

audio-bookIt seems like audio books (audiobooks[?]) are a burgeoning market.

Again. Still?

The Wall Street Journal wrote a whole article about it.

About a month before the WSJ article the NYTimes published a piece about how audiobooks are helping struggling actors make a pretty good living at their craft.

Julliard and Yale have gone so far as to offer audio narration workshops, Julliard since 2008. With having hired 2,000 actors and produced 10,000 works last year voice actors are suddenly in demand, at least more than they used to be.

In reality, audio books have been a growing market since, well, since there have been audio books. It’s the rate of growth that’s been bouncing around like a ping pong ball with a mouse inside. The thing is, people like to have things read to them. The human voice is the most powerful communication tool we have and perhaps the most important sound in our lives

So, people like to listen. They like to listen to audio books. Can that – will that carry over into audio drama?

I, for one, certainly hope so. Audio drama, what used to be called radio drama (and still is in Europe), is a much richer experience than simple narration. Himan Brown, who over a 65-year career produced over 30,000 radio programs, said, “The key to radio drama is sound – is imagination – is what you can do by stirring somebody. . . . There’s nothing bloodier than the blood you see in your imagination.”

Sound is just as complex as visuals and is better at evoking emotion. A horror movie without the sound is just a series of pictures. Next time you watch one on Netflix try turning off the sound. You’ll hear what I mean.

So why isn’t audio drama climbing the commercial and critical success ladder right alongside (or at least just behind) audio books?

I think it’s a matter of perception.

“Audio drama is just radio drama, old, poorly recorded and badly acted.”

That is a perception I want to correct. Join in the discussion. If you have questions, I’ll try to answer them. If you have opinions, chime in. All welcome.