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A Closer Look at Radio Drama

Similarities do abound of course between radio drama and pieces performed on the stage, film and television, however, the ability to move, inspire, and create solely through the collaboration of the human voice and the mind is a magnificent feat that requires the utmost discipline, insight and flawless interpretation of a voice actor. To recognize the obvious, radio drama lacks a visual component and therefore is subject to the interpretation of the listener through sound and speech. Theatre, film, and particularly, live performances, are all visual experiences that generously communicate to their audiences through additional senses such as sight, smell, and touch while incorporating sound and speech. As radio drama caters specifically to sound and speech, the most universally heightened of the senses, opportunities arise for a richer listening experience free from external distraction while enabling an audience member to conjure up their own visual version of the radio drama.

In radio drama, the script needs to be expertly written, accommodating the intellectual needs a listener. The voice actors role is to breathe life into the script and the producers role is to observe all Foley elements as are required to enhance the performance while providing additional mental stimulation for the audience. I liken this parallel to the intellectual experience and satisfaction that reading quality literature brings.

Performers of radio dramas are indeed actors. There is no question about it. It is simply a different application that provides its own unique set of challenges and adventures. In order to perform a voice-acting role, a person needs to be first and foremost an actor at heart. In fact, many people use physical gestures and dialog with each other in sessions similarly to how actors feed off of each others energy on stage, film or television.

There is a real chemistry that comes across when voice actors have synergy with their cast mates, quite comparable to the same electricity that face-to-face acting brings. Now that we've looked at radio dramas in general, let's explore marketing audio dramas and increasing the number of listeners for a radio drama. Independent producers and groups have an enormous opportunity to reach new listeners on a global scale by means of podcasting. Using podcasting as a means to attract new listeners is fundamental to the success and continued discovery of this art form through popular and new media.

There are several independent radio theatre troupes around the globe that have sought to expand their listener base through podcasting and have affiliated themselves with websites that facilitate the spreading of their message, including organizations such as LibriVox, a group of people dedicated to recording audiobooks and making audio dramas more accessible to the public. Submitting an established radio drama to podcast directories is also a brilliant way to increase the circulation, mind-share (and ear-share) as well as awareness for the craft. One popular radio drama I discovered this year, The Radio Adventures of Doctor Floyd, leveraged the celebrity status of one of their cast members, June Foray, to boost its appeal and gain a larger audience. Voice actors who perform audio dramas ally themselves with Voices to help promote their work and gain a wider reach concerning new listeners and even new members of their radio drama clubs. For instance, there is the Amateur Voice Acting Group (AVAG) in San Diego, California established by David Johnson.

When he launched his voice-acting group, the VOX Daily voice actor blog was there to help with promoting David's organization to other talent in the San Diego area through Voices. A membership to an online voiceover marketplace is without question one of the best investments and outlets for voice professionals in the radio drama field. Each voice actor is encouraged to upload a sample of their voice and list their work or voluntary experience.

Many voice talent have started out as narrators for audiobooks produced for the blind as a steppingstone in their careers.

Stephanie Ciccarelli is the VP of Marketing with Voices.com, the voice over marketplace hosting more than 8,000 professional voice talents. Stephanie is also the author of The Definitive Guide To Voice-Over Success.


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