Campfire Radio Theater

SFFaudio Online Audio

Campfire Radio TheaterI get a lot of email from amateur audio dramatists looking for publicity. They come about once every week or two. They’ve all got shows they want me to review or post about. I dutifully link to them most of the time. But you may notice that they often go up without any kind of comment. Either this is because I’m not particularly impressed – or perhaps it’s just because I have nothing in particular to say about them (maybe it’s in a genre I don’t care for). Here’s a typical example of the email I get (I received it just yesterday):

Hi Jessie. I produce a full cast audio drama called Campfire Radio Theater. Our primary focus is horror related tales in the classic tradition of anthology shows such as Lights Out and Nightfall. I would be honored if you guys were to review our podcast and feature us on SFF Audio. Please give any of our episodes a listen and let me know if you have any interest.

Kindest regards,
John Ballentine

Looking just at the email I see good things and bad things. First there’s the good: “Lights Out and Nightfall” are two series I like. That’s good. Like them Campfire Radio Theater is an anthology series, that too is good. But, there’s also a lot of bad. First, my name is spelled wrong. I’m human, I make mistakes too, but it’s not a good sign to spell my name wrong. Second it’s a podbean podcast. I haven’t had much luck with podbean based podcasts. I don’t know why that is.

Lastly, there’s the name. Theater is spelled wrong.

I know that many disagree. And it can be argued that American English is special, and should be allowed it’s quirks. I hear that. But for me it is a bad sign. Some U.S.A. based radio dramatists know this and made their names accordingly. There’s the Seeing Ear Theatre, the Firesign Theatre, and of course the “National Audio Theatre” festival. My prejudice is that for every good “re” there’s a dozen or so bad “er”s. There are plenty of counterexamples (there are plenty of “er”s that are terrific) but I do have the bias.

I could rationalize it more. Saying that the choice to go “re” invokes the traditional distinction between the venue where the production is performed and the production itself. As in: “I went to the theater (the playhouse) to see some real theatre (a dramatized play) performed on stage.” But I digress.

So, anyway, like always, I clicked on over to the provided link and had a look at the website. Once there I wasn’t very impressed. Campfire Radio Theater doesn’t have a proper logo – that’s terrible. So, I guess you could say I went into the first episode with low expectations.

Usually amateurs sound like amateurs, with acting more like reading, and a rookie sort of sound design that leaves me completely flat.

Demon Eyes was the name of the first episode in the podcast feed. I listened to it and suddenly had all my cynical expectations thrown out the window.

Not only does Demon Eyes have some very good acting – including the writer/producer himself in a role – but it also has some very solid sound design!

If John Ballentine could do this with his first ever show what could he do once he has some serious experience?

I’m very, very impressed!

There’s also something different going on with the plot and dialogue. It’s got a kind of odd vibe that I can’t quite get my finger one. Somehow it feels like a kind of anti-Spirit Blade sort of show. I don’t know if that’ll continue into subsequent episodes of this anthology. And I don’t know if the quality will get worse, or better, based on just the one episode, but I’m eager to have a listen to the second show and find out.

How’s that for publicity John?

Demon Eyes |MP3|

Podcast feed:

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Posted by Jesse Willis

Leave a Reply