Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I’m listening to AM740, a flamethrower out of Toronto. (“Flamethrower” = a radio term for a high-power AM station that covers a huge distance.)

They run old radio shows in the evening and right now “Dragnet” is coming out of the speaker. It is, of course, in no particular order, Joe Friday, a murder, odds and ends of realistic conversation having nothing to do with the plot and all the rest left to our imagination. It is theater of the mind.

We make up the sets, the faces, the actions. I just heard the cops run into the moll’s apartment, locate the suspect, get into a gun battle and shoot him. It was an actual case with a wrap-up giving the status of the gal’s sentence. By the way, they had just been married two days ago. “The honeymoon’s over,” Friday says.

I think what made Dragnet so successful was, among other things, the chatter between the characters. Much of what they said was quite incidental to the plot: picking up a prescription from the drug store, not wanting to take his last cigarette, got any aspirin, etc. It’s the stuff of life, what we do all the time at work.

Is this sort of thing still around? Every Saturday afternoon, when “A Prairie Home Companion” comes to you live on your local Public Radio Station. “Live,” by the way, meaning literally “right now, on stage, no recording.” When you listen, you make up all but the spoken words. It’s really theater of the mind.


Blogger D.B. Echo said...

The only regular radio "drama" I know of is "Adventures In Odyssey", produced by (I think) Focus On The Family and broadcast locally on some Christan station out of Montrose. The show is sometimes subversive enough to actually go off at right angles to FOTF's stated mission. There's even evidence that some involved are fans of (and were heavily infuenced by) the radio program The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - written by the late outspoken atheist Douglas Adams.

October 21, 2009 7:45 AM  
Blogger PictureTaker said...

Prairie Home Companion is indeed a wonderful radio show. It was also fun to see them broadcast it once--to see how much fun they were having doing it.

October 21, 2009 11:53 AM  
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