Tag Archives: A

Dead Air 98.3 FM

There are multiple ways to listen at RadioDork.com

Somehow I missed this one last year. Maybe this is the first year he’s been listed in Shoutcast. Last year was lazy – I didn’t do in-depth research, mainly stuck to searching Shoutcast, Live365, etc.. 


This station is the project of one man – namely Clay Roe. 

He plays pretty much everything all the other stations listed in my Halloween Internet Radio post play, combined. (I will use a few terms in this post that assume you’ve read that post.) Old, new, novelty, sound clips. No longer stuff, though – he keeps it all pretty standard radio length. 

And, though he plays all the categories the other stations specialize in, he plays much better selections and more variety within those categories than I’ve heard anywhere else. And, I’ve heard him play stuff I’ve only ever heard on Dr. Demento but not any online station. 

This guy clearly knows music. Even what, at first glance, seem to be keyword songs aren’t the usual songs you hear everywhere else and were obviously chosen for content or mood/style, not just a keyword in a title. He also plays very fitting-for-the-season selections from well known musicians that I had never heard. And I love the non-English songs sprinkled in – that’s a great touch. 

Yes, he leans toward older songs. Oldies, vintage, whatever, but at least it’s not the same old stuff.

But, I’ve also heard plenty of Midnight Syndicate, The Creepshow and HorrorPops, a lot of the various incarnations of Oingo Boingo, a lot of Zombina and the Skeletones, and other modern acts. Also, there’s a few remixes and mashups I can’t help but wonder if he did himself.

And I’ve heard dozens – maybe hundreds – of songs I’ve never heard before, as well as every one of my all time favorites I look forward to every year, plus special surprise treasures I’ve never heard on any other station, like the “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” from Dead Space, “Put the (Bleeping) Lotion in the Basket”, and the old “Tearing the Heart out of Saturday Night” Joe Bob Briggs MonsterVision promo.

I could keep describing, but, I’ll quote what he said for himself in an interview I found from 2015 on SpookyLittleHalloween.com…. 

“More than 2,000 Halloween tracks currently in the library…more than 1,000 in active rotation at any given time. And hundreds of “others”, as I call them: sound collages I create, TV and movie clips, trailers, educational films cuts, anything non-musical, but Halloween-related. My goal was always to make the stream listenable for long periods of time…without any repeats and always changing.”

The whole interview is worth reading. 

And no commercials! 

Well, except for a couple vintage TV ads for horror-themed toys I’ve heard. 

I do want to comment on how awesome his non-music stuff is. I love the old movie radio spots, and he plays carefully selected clips from Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House album – a Halloween favorite of mine since childhood. There’s even clips from old Arch Oboler radio thrillers and from Peoria Plague – a radio drama from the early 70s. (I doubt most would even recognize it, but I’m into audio theater.) 

My first day listening, I heard clips from some old radio Halloween special that were spread out between songs so there was a continuity further confirming that this isn’t just a huge playlist played on shuffle. One day, he played clips from The Shining throughout the day. As well as what I think was The Ghost and Mr. Chicken – an old Don Knotts movie. A couple weeks later, I started hearing a lot of clips from What We Do in the Shadows. 

And then there was that chilling 911 call he played. 

The entire lineup – music and non-music – is just so beautifully crafted. It’s all these human touches that is my favorite feature of this station. It is a completely different experience from every other station listed here.

Bottom line – this an Internet radio station in the truest sense. What Internet radio CAN be but usually isn’t. A human curator, editor, organizer, presenter. You can almost see him through these selections – hunkered in a closet (yes, really – read the interview), playing a track, which reminds him of another track, which he then adds to the rotation and bookends with related clips. Seemingly always there at the controls, huge library he has an intimate knowledge of at his fingertips, continually tweaking and queuing up just the perfect playlist. 

Like some undead George Gimarc.

Let’s see… Something negative to say… Hmm… 

Well, not all his source materials are of top quality. And I don’t mean because they’re old – I’ve heard plenty of these songs, old and new, that sound great on other stations. (His Voltaire tracks sound terrible, for example.) However, the tracks are at fairly uniform volume and that counts for a lot – it’s not the case with a lot of stations. 

And, depending on what you’re looking for, Dead Air isn’t as one-size-fits-all as HalloweenRadio.net. Some of the punk, truly old stuff, and the truly bizarre would probably cause certain people to tune out. He himself says this station is for long listening. So, no, you can’t count on popular, well-known songs if you only listen a couple hours. 

If you’re having a Halloween party, put on HalloweenRadio.net and within a short time, a party starter like Monster Mash will come on. Before the party is over, your half drunk guests will get to repeatedly shout “GHOSTBUSTERS!!”. And everyone will hear songs they know in between. If you want to listen all month and not hear the same standard songs too many times, like me, go for Dead Air. You’ll get a fascinating and fun journey through the history of Halloween kinda’ music and all the non-music stuff thrown in. 

Anyway, A+, five stars, two thumbs up, etc.. I’ve been as excited about this station as I am once I’ve decorated the house for Halloween. It’s great audio decoration. I have listened to this station nearly non-stop all month. Even sitting in bed on my headphones and via my wife’s Bluetooth speaker in the shower that I barely ever used before. No podcasts, no other stations and that is unheard of for me – usually I have a huge list of Halloween stuff I’m listening to all month.

If he makes a Christmas station, I’m pretty sure I’d be torn away from my annual Xmas in Frisco as I’ve now been torn away from HalloweenRadio.net. 

King Falls AM | 2015, Ongoing | Make Believe Picture Company

I have listened to 20 episodes of this – then again with my wife – and haven’t jotted down a single note about it.

But I can’t. stop. listening.

It’s great. It’s endless fun. No serious story here – just lots and lots of fun. I won’t even say it’s hilarious, though it is certainly a comedy. FUN is the word I keep thinking as I listen. And the whole thing is very well done – sound design, writing, characters, dialogue, acting, everything.

Everything I love about Chatterbox-FM
(an in-game talk radio station in the game Grand Theft Auto 3 that I need to make a post about) and Art Bell, with great touches of Northern Exposure and other “new guy in a weird town” stories.
But, there’s the thing. They’re not trying to make one long storyline with every i dotted and t crossed. That frees them from having to hit every trope the subgenre usually contains.

The set up is a late night talk show on a radio station in a microscopic town with some supernatural shenaniganery. But, we only hear twenty minutes every couple weeks or so. And the show’s chronology is parallel to ours (episodes are released every two weeks(ish) and two weeks have passed in the story), so, we don’t hear everything and we don’t know everything – the back stories, every detail, full explanations, etc.. You just hear a piece. The imagination has unlimited room to run and play. I love that about this show. Rather than try to build an airtight universe, they let YOU take an active part in the stories, as it were. They leave a lot of room for theorizing – hell, WONDERING. It’s a show keeps you thinking when you’re done listening and be delighted when they revisit something that was brought up before and give more details.

I just love this show.

So, yeah, I’m gonna give it a solid A.
Since this is an ongoing show, I’m gonna have to listen along as new episodes are released – a first for me. But, I definitely will.

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I can’t find a full, official description, so I’ll adapt my own from various sources…

King Falls AM

King Falls AM centers on a lonely little mountain town’s late-night AM talk radio show and its paranormal, peculiar happenings and inhabitants.

New episodes on the 1st & 15th!

A Canticle for Leibowitz | 1981 | WHA Radio/Wisconsin Public Radio

Note – I’ve been trying to have people’s names in the title but try Googling this production and you’ll find all kinds of somewhat conflicting information about who exactly was behind it. Adapted by John Reeves? Or is his name John Reed? Karl or Carl Schmidt directed. But all sources I read agreed that it was produced at WHA for Wisconsin Public Radio and it was aired and probably funded at least partially by NPR.

This is probably my fourth time listening to this.
When October starts, I’m gonna try to listen through the entire series of The Byron Chronicles since it’s sure to be a great Halloween month choice and it’s apparently ending soon. Until then, I have to fill a few days of headphones time so I’m revisiting one of my all time favorites.

15 not-quite-a-half-hour episodes, divided into 3 large parts, set hundreds of years apart from one another.

My favorite is part one – the first five episodes. Poetic, hushed, minimal. The dialogue, effects, and even the score are all so subdued, I can just imagine the director repeating “shhh” as his most used direction. I find these episodes calming and soothing.
Until it’s not.
And those moments jostle the senses after mentally leaning in to listen closer for so much of the time.
The second and third parts have a lot more of this. This is a post-apocalyptic story and each of the three parts is further along in the rebuilding of society. The amount of sound effects increases accordingly.

As for the production as a whole, the acting is so natural I always forget to judge the acting. The sound effects are excellent. The writing is also nearly flawless. The story is adapted from a novel but the script itself is perfectly written – great pacing, great dialogue, and good amounts of nuance and subtlety. Again, the script writer can only take a certain amount of credit but I certainly admire his selections from the source material – it doesn’t feel abridged. This is a big story of global changes over many, many centuries of time, yet told through a small, personal story (three, actually) so it is still emotional with few and therefore rich and believable characters.
Perhaps the most vital ingredient is the narrator. I am a firm believer in using a narrator in audio presentations. Many productions I’ve heard and thought were deeply flawed, I also thought could have been saved by use of a narrator. And the narrator for this show is perfect.
It all combines to make what is possibly my single favorite production I’ve ever heard. This is nothing less than a masterpiece of audio theater.

Needless to say, I give this an A+ and have my own copy of it in my stash. (Which, btw, is better quality than what you’ll find at the link below. If you want a copy, contact me via one of the methods over on the sidebar.)

A Canticle for Leibowitz
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A Canticle for Leibowitz is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel by American writer Walter M. Miller, Jr., first published in 1960. Based on three short stories Miller contributed to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, it is the only novel published by the author during his lifetime. Considered one of the classics of science fiction, it has never been out of print and has seen over 25 reprints and editions. Appealing to mainstream and genre critics and readers alike, it won the 1961 Hugo Award for best science fiction novel.
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Set in a Roman Catholic monastery in the desert of the southwestern United States after a devastating nuclear war, the story spans thousands of years as civilization rebuilds itself. The monks of the Albertian Order of Leibowitz take up the mission of preserving the surviving remnants of man’s scientific knowledge until the day the outside world is again ready for it.
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Inspired by the author’s participation in the Allied bombing of the monastery at Monte Cassino during World War II, the novel is considered a masterpiece by literary critics. It has been compared favorably with the works of Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, and Walker Percy, and its themes of religion, recurrence, and church versus state have generated a significant body of scholarly research.
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This 15 part serial is based on the novel by Walter M. Miller, Jr. published in 1959. The story had previously been published as a series of novellas in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science. The book won the Hugo award winner for best science fiction novels of all time.
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The radio drama adaptation by John Reed, and produced at WHA by Carl Schmidt and Marv Nunn.
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The play was directed by Karl Schmidt, engineered by Marv Nunn with special effects by Vic Marsh.
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Narrator – Carol Collins and includes Fred Coffin, Bart Hayman, Herb Hartig and Russel Horton.
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Music was by Greg Fish and Bob Budney and the Edgewood College Chant Group.

Second Shift | 2006-2011 | Andrea Shubert, Blue Sky Red Entertainment

I’ve spent the last month listening to this, in its entirety, for the second time. This is one of my favorite long-form audio productions I’ve ever heard, alongside Earthsearch, A Canticle for Leibowitz, and We’re Alive.

The story, characters, and acting help me see past the production design and quality issues, most of which are forgivable and surely budget related.
The characters, the characters, the characters. And the story.
And it has a great fantasy world – rich and detailed, with traditions, rituals, societal classes, sporting events, even a language you start picking up as you listen.
The bloopers at the end of each episode just add to the fun.

Season Two is like a thrilling upgrade sequel. Makes the first season look like amateur hour. Everything to love about the first season but now SO much improved. The writing is more mature and darker, the storyline richer, the sound design (including the music) and quality are even better than the first season, the characters are deeper, the acting is more demanding yet the performers meet the task beautifully.

If this story has a flaw it is not fully realizing the abilities of Mike and Katherine. We’re told about the remarkable potentials of all three characters in the beginning of the story, but only Shauna’s are realized. The abilities of the other two are barely even mentioned again and certain scenes even contradict Mike’s strengths we’re told of. Was this intentional? I doubt it. I fear the story in its entirety wasn’t outlined and they simply made it up as they went and decided to abandon the two to focus on the one.
This is the only point that I would consider as a failing of this show.

As an entire package, I give this show a solid A+ and I will always keep my own personal stash of every episode. I’m positive I will listen to it many times for many years to come.

Note – When I went to gather various info for this post, I found that the Second Shift website had received quite an update and now has an incredible amount of bonus material and information about every episode. This will tip me over the brink from Second Shift fan to full blown Second Shift GEEK. We’re talking commentaries, episode notes and analyses, scripts (and drafts), and the full primer on the Charandrean language I’ve always wanted, etc., etc..
And I can’t wait to start digging into it all! :)

Second Shift

This Parsec-Award nominated audio drama follows the adventures of three students from Boston who are summoned to another world against their will. There they must either find their places or find a way home. New friends, new enemies, clashes of culture and clashes of personality help and hinder them in their search for answers.

Second Shift follows an ambitious, character-centric story arc about three college students from Boston who find themselves “shifted” against their will to another world. They must find their place in that world while trying to return to theirs.

Batman – Breakdown | 2012 | Gonzo Planet | Alex Shaw & David Hartrick

Wow, this one is tough. I adored it but its faults are obvious. Though, its failings are only due to the limitations of what I assume was a practically nonexistent budget and lack of experience of the creators.

I’ll say first that the writing is excellent. I loved every minute in the hour of this production because of the writing. As I listened, I found it easy to forgive every other flaw in the production because of the story and the dialogue. I’ll even go so far as to say it’s the best Batman audio theater I’ve ever heard. Though, I could count on one hand how many I’ve heard even if I’d been born with two fingers missing on that hand.
And one was by Dirk Maggs, so of course I didn’t like it.

But the ending was overboard, I think. I don’t know. Maybe this would be an acceptable scenario to the Batman mythos hardcores. I’m not one. Wouldn’t even consider myself more than a casual fan of Batman. So, what would I know about plausibility in this particular fictional universe?

Anyway, this production is far from perfect. Really far.
The casting and the characterizations aren’t great. But, I suspect they may be imitations of the characters in the modern Batman cartoons – I wouldn’t know since I’ve never watched them. But, the voice of Batman is solid. Though, he has his bad moments. These are mostly British actors – and amateurs at that – so, not only do their accents sometimes peek through, but it could be they’re simply overdoing an American accent.

As I listened, I kept thing that this is the full realization of what fan audio theater CAN be. The producers have the same resources as every other fan-made production yet these creators use them SO much better. Compare this production to Batman – No Man’s Land, which is a prime example of really bad fan-made audio theater.

Everything technical in this production I would rate good to great use of what they had available – the editing, the music choices, the skilled use of that music, the sound effects (even when obvious free sound effects library website clips), the great use of even silence and whispers. This sound is dramatic and bold but also spends a lot of time hushed and intimate. It just sounds great. Though, it is a bit hollow log-y.
And, they did a very rare thing for audio theater – you can download an in-depth, lengthy, mostly fascinating making-of in two parts. Oh, how I wish everyone did this.

I listened to this TWICE just to be sure it really was as good as I thought the first time through. It was. Better, I say. So, I’m gonna grade on a curve, ignore the flaws, and give it an A- and am most certainly keeping a copy of it.

And now, I’m in a big hurry to hear their followup production – The Killing Joke, universally agreed to be one of the greatest Batman stories ever told. Sadly, the audio theater careers of Alex Shaw, et al. apparently ended there – I can find nothing made since.

Batman – Breakdown

What you are about to hear is my first full-length audio play. It was designed to be enjoyed by comic fans but also to people who are only familiar with the Nolan films the Arkham video games or the Animated Series.
I wanted to write something significant, honest and authentic about the Batman legend and with a lot of help from long-time serious Bat-fan, David Hartrick, I was able to shape a series of ideas into a hopefully coherent story. None of the cast, including myself are professional actors, but we all worked very hard to capture the essence of the characters we portrayed.
The writing, organisation and editing all of this together took dozens of hours, but it’s been equal parts exhausting and rewarding. I’d of course ideally love to see this adapted into a comic mini-series or animated movie someday (hint, hint, DC).
Oh and for Batman enthusiasts, take note, this is an Elseworlds tale that takes place after the 2005 storyline Under the Hood, but before the 2006 storyline Infinite Crisis.

Earthsearch

Epic, beautiful, brilliant – this is audio theater.

I listened to the twenty episodes – the original ten and the sequel series. The BBC of yesteryear can apparently do no wrong. The production was minimal, well acted, well written, nearly perfect sound design (uh, why no footsteps when people walk?), flawless pacing, huge scope of story yet personal and intimate. And the almost total lack of score keeps it from fitting too tightly into a specific genre or even production time period. This show did not feel dated to me at all, though it was produced in 1980-1982.

And this is a personal favorite space opera subgenre of mine… Long ago, a starship was launched from Earth far in our future to find other habitable planets. What remains on the ship as our story opens are merely four descendants of the massive crew of a ship some ten miles long who were raised by computers and androids and know only life on the ship and each other. Oh, yeah… Four humans and the two sentient computers that run many of the ship systems. What happened? Why only four people left? Will they ever find a planet? Maybe going back to Earth would be better? And the computers – Guardian Angel 1 and Guardian Angel 2 have answers to all those questions. Very frustrating answers. So, one man asks why any of them should listen to the Angels’ answers anymore.
And that’s just the first couple episodes.

This is that far-reaching, mind mangling (and more than a little pessimistic) British science fiction and I could hardly put it down. The development of the characters and story were perfect – we start with a situation, setting, and four people and watch the whole thing change and the characters with it. And the production is great BBC – not trying to be a movie with no visuals (uh, part three, made 25 years later tries that) but much more than an audio book with sound effects and actors – a perfect use of the medium.

I give this a solid A+ and am definitely keeping it and see myself listening to it again really soon and for years to come. When I hit episode 6, I stopped five minutes in and went back and started again from episode 1 because the nuance and pacing clearly deserved to be taken seriously.

I have no download link for this one, so, get in touch with me (see left sidebar) if you want it.

We’re Alive

I finally finished We’re Alive (werealive.com) and I can say unequivocally it’s the best long-form audio theater I’ve ever heard.

It’s more like a novel than a TV show. It assumes you’re invested and takes its time developing characters and such, rather than trying to thrill you every episode. This is no Walking Dead – this is more like Breaking Bad – they don’t make it up as they go, they had a story written, ready to tell, and told it in four seasons of twelve hour-long chapters each divided into three convenient twenty-minute episodes.
Very impressive cast, acting, production values, writing, everything. 
Second Shift (my previous all-time favorite serial drama) was a lot of fun but We’re Alive is everything I wish all modern audio theater was.