Listenin’

The start of classes is always the hardest and in many cases the most jarring of the school year.  It’s never easy to be thrown back into collective pool of university life after a tranquil summer and finding relaxation during the school year can be as challenging for the professors as it is for the students.  To do so, I find it’s sometimes best to go back to the basics, back to a time before the ever-present onslaught of modern media technology.

Tune in

"Audio drama, theater for the mind."

Radio Drama!

Radio drama is a form of audio storytelling broadcast on radio. With no visual component, radio drama depends on dialogue, music and sound effects to help the listener imagine the story.1

What seems like a long time ago in a galaxy far far away there was  life sans television, sans video games, and certainly sans the internet.  As early as 1921 people gathered around the radio to catch the latest in their favorite series of adventure, romance, fantasy or fiction. Writers, producers, voice actors and special effects experts all conspired to provide entertainment in the form of radio theater and send  listeners to the very depths of their imaginations.

But is this form of entertainment forgotten?

Au contraire no!  Lurking in the pages of the internet serial audio dramas are thriving in abundance.  Over a thousand amateur production companies producing several serial audio dramas each means thousands of shows of all available genres. No longer constrained by the geographic limits of broadcast radio,  the internet has provided the means to access millions of living rooms around the world.

While exactly the same concept of the storytelling of yesteryear, today’s audio dramas are nothing like what our grandparents listened to.  The progress of modern technology has only improved the storytelling capabilities of audio dramas with high-tech special effects (audio of course), musical backdrops, sound quality and voice manipulation really help draw you in to the story at hand.

Tune in every week and engage your imagination.

Nothing can be more relaxing than sitting in your favorite chair, with your eyes closed, head reclined and allowing your imagination to run rampant.  With the well-written modern story lines of today’s audio dramas your mind’s eye is soon in control and you’re transported to distant places and times without ever leaving your comfy chair.  Television can be garish, flashy, in your face, and a killer of the imagination.  Television viewers are subject to the whims and imagination of the director.  The director choses what they want you to see, effectively murdering your imagination and those of their television audience.  Whereas audio drama only serves to stimulate the imaginations of its listening audience, giving just enough help captivate you and you send you on your journey.

Drama on the go!

Not only is audio drama an addictive way to relax, but is portable and you can listen while driving, riding the noisy subway, or walking through town.  Most audio dramas are completely free of charge, made by people passionate about the art form. They’re more interested in having their work appreciated than the money.  So on their websites you’ll find different ways to enjoy shows.  The shows are usually in mp3 format and can easily be streamed online or downloaded directly into your computer or iPod device.

What’s out there?

As said earlier, there are thousands of audio dramas available, and many producers distributing their shows on their own unique websites.  Fortunately there are some sites attempting to collect links to all available audio drama produces.  This is an excellent place to start looking for a show that interests you.  Because I encourage the use of audio drama by my students to improve vocabulary and listening comprehension.  I’ve collected several high quality audio drama series on EnglishCaddy.  All shows listed on EnglishCaddy are chosen for their quality, clarity and consistency of production as well as “streamable” directly from the site.

Aside from reading, there is no better way to relax (especially if your eyes are tired) then sitting back, closing your eyes and listening to a well-written audio show.

Links:
EnglishCaddy Radio – a collection of good quality free radio dramas in streaming with links to producer sites.
The Audio Drama Directory – a collection of links to many of the available online radio dramas.
Wikipedia article on radio dramas.

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