Media & Communication Department

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pheps Pamela Phelps When Darkness Falls: A Radio Production

From the 1920s through to the 1950s, radio dramas were a main source of entertainment for many Americans. The genre relied on vivid descriptions, unique stories and talented editing in order to hook listeners and spark their imaginations. When executed right, the productions had the power to make an audience laugh, cry or fear, which is an astounding feat. This piece is a tribute to these bygone greats. My inspiration came from listening to old episodes of The Shadow, which I first heard in middle school. The stories were always entertaining, sometimes for their hokiness but mostly for their ability to make you see the story in your mind. As Susan Douglas states in Listening In, the dramas introduced a new orality into American culture, a pure listening experience, which gave the audience an incredibly important role. Unlike TV, where audiences are passive - shown what to see and basically how to feel - radio is an active experience. Listeners are required to participate and use their imagination to see the story play out; the result is both an individual and communal experience, with the same stories settling in each mind differently. For this project, my creative skills were put to the test: writing, casting, editing and even voicing a character. The project was a fun and insightful adventure that showed me that my passion for radio is stronger than any other. By creating this story, I hope to affect audiences in some small way in order to show that this genre is still an effective art form that should not be left in the dark.