Friday, May 15, 2015

Ah, The Lost Radio Of My Relative Youth

I confess that I used to be a really, really heavy DXer.  That's someone who is addicted to listening to shortwave radio.  I used to listen for several hours a night. It was hereditary, I got it from my father.  As mentioned before, he was really hard core.  He was a ham.  That's a ham radio operator.  I'd tell you his call sign but someone else has it now, a quarter century after his death.  I checked I didn't know they reassigned numbers.

One of my biggest weaknesses was listening to radio plays and my favorites weren't from the hoary, august BBC, they were from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.   Many Saturdays in the 1990s and 2000s I would hope I'd get in Radio Canada International long enough to listen to The Mystery Project, after their incomparable news program, The World At Six, still my idea of the perfect half-hour news show.  I don't know what the ravages of the stinking Harper regime have done to it, I haven't had the heart to listen to it in years.  

So, "The Mystery Project" (that's pronounced PRO-ject in the original Canadian).   I loved the series of half-hour mysteries, few of them in the repulsive genera the cosy or the hard boiled detective type.  I loved "Midnight Cab" by James W. Nichols,  Clean Sweep by Alf Silver and other series.  A friend recently sent me a thumb drive with mp3s of what I thought was among the best written of the series, "The Old Guy" by Paul Ledoux.  I don't know how Ledoux does it but he seems to make so much happen in his short plays that a half hour seems at least twice as long.  Now I want to read or hear more of Ledoux's work, he is an unusually good playwright.  And he's written a lot of plays, none of which seem to be easily accessible in written or recorded form.

If you can find a way to listen to any of them you might really enjoy it.   If there's one thing I've concluded from it, the pictures are so much better on the radio, the writing and acting too.  Actors always look great, exactly like they're supposed to.  I've seen lots of great actors on TV and in the movies who were so much better than the eye-candy leads but who you knew were never going to get the leading roles based on their sex appeal to the eye.   But to the ear, to the mind, none of that matters.

I don't know how many aspiring playwrights, actors, directors, sound engineers have carried the form on into the internet, maybe I should look.  Anyone who falls into those categories who isn't trying should probably consider going into another line of work because it's so cheap and easy to try with a computer and a hundred dollar microphone.  Pictures cost so much more, in money and effort.   Working in music, you can do a lot with the free Audacity program you can get online as long as you've got a fairly good mic.  I use a Shure and it sounds pretty OK for making recordings for my students.     But I'm too busy listening to go searching for good audio plays that right now.  I will take recommendations.  There's nothing like being able to put on an hour and a half of plays while I'm working in the garden or around the house.   It's a relief from the lame radio fare we get around here, no matter which of the four American "public" stations I can get.  Radio has really gone to hell.  Not only here but we led the way down.

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