LB’S NOTE: If the New York Times says these fiction podcasts (AKA podcasts formerly known as audio fiction, let’s get something straight – they are mighty fine indeed.
by Phoebe Lett
Long before Ben Hammersley coined the portmanteau “podcast” to describe the “webcasting” of audio files through digital syndication — and before true crime, current events and talk shows seemed to colonize the fledgling industry — audio was used to tell a good fictional story.
The medium requires the listener’s imagination, giving one the furniture to outfit a personalized theater of the mind. Today’s audio drama, industry speak for fiction podcasts, is built on lessons from the golden age of radio’s best tricks. But the digital airwaves provide creators a freedom that radio couldn’t, namely in geographical reach and weekly hours to fill (not to mention the language constraints of the Federal Communications Commission).
If self-isolation has you tired of looking at screens but still hungry for engrossing plot twists to lose yourself in and endearing protagonists to fall in love with, here are some lesser-known dramas for your ears.
For generations, the Funn family has run the only funeral parlor in Piffling, a fictional island in the British Channel. Without competition, they don’t need to do more than “get the body in the coffin in the ground on time,” and sometimes barely that much. But when an impossibly, suspiciously charming competitor from off the island sets up shop across the street and immediately attracts customers with his shiny offerings like flowers and a functioning cappuccino machine, Funn Funerals starts losing its customers. Twins (and antagonists) Rudyard and Antigone Funn try everything to remain the island’s go-to mortuary. Over the four available seasons of “Wooden Overcoats,” it becomes impossible not to adore everyone in the village — “very nearly a town!” as Mayor Desmond Desmond likes to remind — even the funeral house mouse, Madeleine.