Playwright Matthew Ivan Bennett on creating this year's RADIO HOUR

I remember as a kid, maybe fourteen, gleefully listening to my father’s Abbot and Costello and “The Shadow” cassette tapes, and really wondering why the radio play became unpopular. I mean, I understood that television supplanted radio…What I wondered is why the two mediums, both so interesting, couldn’t co-exist. Why must technology be “updated” rather than, say, diversified?

Even though TV is capable of technically duplicating all that radio does, AND adds the element of the image, TV still doesn’t duplicate the experience. With radio, the images live inside of you–it’s like having a book read aloud to you (which, in a child-like way, is more fun than reading yourself).

What I also dig about radio is that it can be enjoyed in the dark, lying down, or in the mountains if you can catch a signal. The title of my first play came from a turn of phrase I heard over the radio (Coast-to-Coast AM with Art Bell) when I was camping in college. I was fifteen feet from a gurgling brook, staring at stars, tending coals in a firepit. I even like it when a signal doesn’t come in totally clearly–it forces you to listen carefully. Writing for Plan-B’s RADIO HOUR has reminded me, too, that our culture is so saturated with entertainment that it’s lost novelty. If you listen to an old radio show, you’ll notice that they’re very presentational and have an aura of luxury. The announcer voice invites you into the experience like you’re a special guest. The old shows weren’t just shows; they were produced like big events.

I tried to capture a little of that as I put the RADIO HOUR scripts together.

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