New Dramatized Poetry by Roger Gregg – And Comments on BBC Radio Drama

Fresh from Ireland, a cool new video from a new show, ‘THE BEE-LOUD GLADE: A Living Anthology of Contemporary Irish Poetry,’ with music by Roger Gregg & Crazy Dog Audio Theatre.

Meanwhile, I solicited some pretty candid comments from Roger about the news regarding BBC radio drama:

Behind all this is the well-entrenched paradigm which has been embraced since the year dot over here.

Namely that ‘Radio Drama’ is Theatre on the radio and that ‘theatre’ must always come in the form of ‘plays’.

‘Plays’ are presented in long formats, 90 minutes, an hour, 45 minutes.

Half hour things are ‘Light Entertainment’ or half-hour or less slot ‘Serials’ such as the Archers [which I think is around the 15 minute mark]. … The Radio Networks do the research and time and time again it comes back to them that relatively NO ONE listens to the long-form ‘drama’ – go over half an hour and the numbers go down…down…after 45 minutes down…down…over that .. down …down… gone.

But since ‘Theatre’ and ‘Drama’ MUST always in their paradigm be about presenting ‘Plays’ they are stuck.

I don’t know how many times I’ve banged the drum for SHORT slots citing the wonderful success Dirk Maggs achieved with
so much of his BBC Radio 2 adventure series. Daily in short segments, an omnibus on the weekends and if and when a CD is released or it’s put up on the internet, then you can connect all the daily segments together with discrete track i.d.s between each segment for easy cueing. I have said this in writing to RTE and Radio 2 as well as suggested in writing to a couple of the independent stations,
but NO ONE is interested.

The emprical marketing and listening pattern research is there. Time and time again the statistics and conclusions therefrom are plain to see. Station Programmers meticulously study this data and have adapted old and created new highly successful programming and
styles and modes of presentation.

YET the bastion of ‘Radio Drama’ remains impervious to this. This is one reason why they do themselves no favours and are often regarded as the hindbound nuisance in stations compelled to produce drama.

Youch! Hard truths but worth meditating on. I know that plenty of people listen to long-form drama – on demand – but on broadcast radio it’s a whole different beast.

Roger’s comments bring Tom Lopez’s work on 2 Minute Film Noir, indeed, his work with Ruby and Jack Flanders being released as ongoing serialized shorts. In an environment where attention spans are short and time is precious, less is more.

  • Rosanna

    I suppose…yeah…in the grand scheme of things it’s likely that the majority (with their shortened attention spans) are quicker to gulp down the mini size over the medium or grande.
    But..hey..should everything be geared toward that boring ride home at the end of the day?
    I know…everyone is not like me.
    I’m one of those enthusiast that can rarely get enough. I am delighted when I’m tucked away with an unusually long audio piece…..
    Sort of like I’ve won the lottery.
    But maybe it is true that for this current gadgety generation that sometimes less is more.
    Less of a commitment.

  • Rosanna,

    Really appreciate the feedback – think we got some similar comments from listeners when Roger said the same in our last interview together.

    I think it’s worth noting – the people who care about radio drama enough to listen to it online are probably more enthusiastic than your average radio listener!

    Sad, but true. It’s part of the nature of broadcasting nowadays, too – “soundbytes” and snippits and not long, engaging, in depth material.

    I love long-form stuff and listen to plenty of it myself, but when listening to the radio find my habits sporadic, so the likelihood of missing out on a longer work are definitely there. It’s nice to be able to pick up on what’s going on and follow it in radio, even if I come in mid-way through a program.

    Thanks again, I certainly agree that less is more but prefer the novel to the short story myself most-times 🙂

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  • I also like to make poems and read lots of books that is related to Poetry.-~.

  • Thank you for this informative post. It have a great info and clues about the Poetry world.

  • I typically don’t reply on web sites but you have some good readable material. Thanks for sharing, that’s a fascinated post!

  • poetry is the thing i like, i create poems during my spare time’.:

  • Nelson Liddle

    It would be terrific to have a programme for short, radio productions. I teach Media Studies and my current class are researching and writing to produce short radio plays, soundscapes, readings etc.

    These young people are beginning to engage with radio drama but, for them, it is a little outmoded. New production ideals, as well as engaging a different generation of listeners, might actually draw new talent to this reborn medium.