Episode 216: Bradbury 13 Rolls in With “A Sound of Thunder”

Ray Bradbury 13 Radio DramaSix weeks of awesome sci-fi on Radio Drama Revival culminates this week with our feature of Bradbury 13, one of the most splendid productions ever to grace the annals of radio drama history. If you ever doubted how stereo sound changed the way we designed sound effects, let this production convince you.

With special permission by creator Michael McDonough, we feature the striking “A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury, a drama about the trouble humans get themselves into when they meddle with the past… and a show with a HELL of a good Tyrannosaurus Rex sound effect!

Speaking of effects, in the second half of the show we speak with Mr. McDonough about how his love of recording sounds turned into this amazing creative project that ultimately lead to a rich career in film sound.

  • Scott B

    Great show! Listened to Bradbury 13 as a teen during it’s original run and was blown away by how fantastic these shows sounded on good stereo equipment. Great interview with Mike McDonough as well.

  • Thanks so much for chiming in, Scott! Yes, this is a fantastic show. Such a delight to be able to put good audio equipment on and hear the wonderful sound work. Shows you how well radio drama is, when it’s at its best!

  • Regarding the political rant against people wanting to cut funding for NPR at the beginning of this… maybe people wouldn’t want to cut funding if it were politically balanced.

  • Anonymous

    Rob, I really appreciate your comment and challenging me on the stance.  I don’t see it so much as a political question as a philosophical one – is it the role of government to support the independent media, and specifically, is it the role of independent media supported by the government to provide money towards the arts?  In the UK and Ireland, the mandate by state radio to produce art content has lead to innumerable excellent radio drama productions being created over the years (on BBC and RTE).  In America the art form has been largely abandoned, and in my opinion our media landscape has suffered for it.

    I’m not necessarily convinced that taxpayer funding to NPR is the right solution, my main argument is that there is an important place for audio arts in America that has been overlooked by both the commercial system and taxpayer funded system.  In commercial radio it has always been about listeners and cost – most listeners possible, least cost possible, which invariable leads to the hit radio stations we have today, shock jocks, and other bottom of the barrel content (plus radio that sound homogenous from coast-to-coast).

    Art by its nature does not appeal to everyone, but it is important.  If we don’t believe in paying it from taxpayer money, how do we create the structures for successful private funding?  I’d be happy to debate what is the better way.

  • Rob

    Art is important, I don’t disagree. the question is whether the government will be the arbiter or art. Is that what you want? I really don’t think so. Did you want George Bush deciding what is art? Art will exist with or without government. Why let them stick their big noses into it? Government is politics, and politics makes bad and boring art. Art doesn’t need government.

  • Anonymous

    Rob, that’s a good point. The challenging thing for radio drama is that it’s a hard fit to find a funding entity, in the early days there was great commercial viability until everyone turned full bored into television. Then there was a brief period where government-sponsored media was able to provide funding as a public service – which invariably leads to the whole debate about public media and its role especially if people disagree with artistic content. If only so many projects can get funding, and the government is footing the bill, someone is going to be unhappy with what gets chosen and what doesn’t. Currently I fund all my projects with private funds – with a hard, slow slog. We have this wonderful beauty of the internet, where you can grow an audience beautifully but have a very big challenge in developing a sustainable business model out of that creative content. What do we do about the culture of free?

    Regardless of whether we agree that it is the appropriate role of government or not, the availability of funds for radio drama meant there was more radio drama being created. This, I am saddened to see go away. But I agree that it may not be the best model, or right model at all.

    – Fred

  • profraywaller

    How about one simple ethical fact: government, or as the Republican trogs like to say, “gub’ment” has used our tax dollars to fund the atrocity of nuclear weapons (the manhattan project), foreign invasions of small threat-less countries (the invasion of Grenada), illegal and immoral assassinations (attempts to kill Castro and the killing of Patrice Lamumba) and illegal wars (Iraq). These and hundreds of other activities have dirtied America’s reputation around the world and wasted millions upon millions of tax dollars. Why should there ever be any debate over government funding art, life, knowledge, the unifying force of dramatic theater and radio (as the WPA Projects did!) and creativity (contributing to the civilizing force of democracy)? If anything, NPR should have triple the funding in hopes that we might make up somewhat for all the evil that we waste tax dollars on. How offensive, how sad, how alarming that any American should doubt the wisdom of what you have written here, Fred. Keep talking, Brother. One of the things art and NPR do every day is to help heal the historical wounds of race, class, and gender inequality that scar American history; art helps us see and speak to each other in a special humanizing language beyond the more limiting dialect of commerce. Thus it helps us forge stronger links between us all. As much as I marched and lobbied and wrote against president Bush, he was my president, elected by a democratic process. Yes, I would MUCH rather he influence the definition content and character of the arts for four to eight years as my president, rather than unelected generals in the pentagon eliminating arts programs altogether through the budget eating massive expense of their appropriations grants for B1 bombers. The WPA gave us the beauty and power of Thomas Hart Benton and Richard Wright. And, considering the relatively paltry percentage of federal money actually appropriated to arts funding such as NPR, what a bargain the expenditure has been! What a historically, culturally, and nationally exorbitant return on investment tax payers get. Twenty women artists such as Joyce Owens (WPA) or six women journalists such as Terry gross (NPR) or the genius of a Clifford Odets (WPA) or the warmth, humor, and joy created by the Magliozzi brothers (Car Talk–NPR) are incredible returns on the dollar, as well as a civilizing force that feeds our better angels.

  • profraywaller

    What people are you talking about and why would art be politically balanced? By whose definition? Given the range of programming on NPR one could quite cogently argue that in fact it is very much balanced.

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