Facts About Modern Audio Drama

  • Modern audio drama experienced a renaissance in the 1970s and early 1980s, and has become increasingly popular with the spread of the Internet: more independent radio stations, podcasts, and original theatre troupes exist than ever before.
  • One of the most successful modern audio dramas of all time, prior to the rise of podcasting, was the serialization of “Star Wars” for National Public Radio, with 750,000 listeners counted by Arbitron.
  • Today, many audio drama buffs get their daily or weekly fix through podcasts. “The Sonic Society” and “Radio Drama Revival” are two extremely successful anthology podcasts collecting work from around the globe. Like these anthology podcasts, horror podcast “We’re Alive”, and “Welcome to Nightvale” have surpassed the one-million download mark.
  • Audio drama is also carried by some public radio in the United States, through special and holiday shows carried by the Public Radio Exchange (PRX), weekly shows such as “Radio Drama Revival”, or syndicated shows such as the Los Angeles Theatre Works (LATW), regularly featuring top Hollywood stars in its plays.
  • Sound Stages Radio’s Martian Room is now the only all-modern audio drama network in North America, after XM-Sirius Book Radio closed down in the summer of 2013. The Canadian broadcaster CBC also severely cut their radio drama offerings in response to the economic slowdown, but listeners in Canada can tune in weekly to the “Sonic Society” broadcast distributed over Canadian stations.
  • Audio drama enjoys continued popularity in Great Britain, Canada, Germany, Israel, and New Zealand, and through parts of Africa and Asia.
  • Great Britain’s most popular audio drama is its longest-running: “The Archers,” which BBC 4 previously announced as their top downloaded content, with more than a million “listens” recorded in just one month.
  • America’s longest-running audio dramas are produced by Jim French Productions, which distributes the syndicated “Imagination Theatre” over many US stations. Most famous for the original “Harry Nile” series, Jim French and his colleagues have produced original audio drama for over 30 years.
  • The popularity of tie-in audio dramas produced by BBC Radio and Big Finish Productions proved a revived “Doctor Who” had an audience; actors and writers from the show, including comedian Catherine Tate and Shakespearean actor David Tennant, continue to produce audio dramas based on the new smash hit.
  • Well known actors appearing in recorded audio dramas or those produced for the stage include JK Simmons, Tatiana Maslany, Alan Rickman, Jon Hamm, James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Ruffalo, Nathan Fillian, Busy Phillips, Brian Blessed, Joanne Froggett, David Tennant, Brittany Snow, Harry Hamlin, Samm Levine, Kate Mulgrew, Haley Joel Osmond, Richard Schiff, Clancy Brown, Jenna Fisher, Jason Ritter, and Jimmy Smits.
  • Modern audio drama is increasingly represented in social media, where users create Facebook groups and post on Twitter with the hashtag #audiodramaday
  • Audio Drama Day’s hashtag is #worldaudiodramaday
  • Jim Jordan, formerly “Fibber McGee” of Fibber McGee and Molly, inaugurated training for a new generation of audio dramatists in the 1970s, starting the Midwest Radio Workshop; this involved into the National Audio Theatre Festivals. Graduates of the National Audio Theatre Festival workshop, and the earlier Midwest Radio Workshop include Audie Award winners, voiceover performers working regularly on audiobooks, commercials and animation, and many producers, directors and writers of original audio drama.

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