As the host of the weekly audio drama podcast, Radio Drama Revival, I get the opportunity to listen to a lot of great new stories, most of it free, some of it not so free. I love a good story, and especially admire the producers who are building their audience through sheer iron will and new technology, ignoring the dismal state of radio and professional audio drama distribution in their passion to explore the art. Cutting this list down to five was a challenge, but give you give your ears the privilege of listening to any of these if you haven’t already — you can’t go wrong.
Wormwood: A Serialized Mystery
Among the most ambitious audio drama series and one of the most well executed, Wormwood tells the story of Xander Crowe and the bizarre events that follow his arrival in the backwoods town of Wormwood, California. The series is unabashed in its tribute to Twin Peaks, and packs enough twists to break your neck in every ~20 minute episode (don’t worry, you’ll be revived as a zombie soon afterwards). Episode 2 is now well underway, so start listening now and get your occult fiction fix.
This website is nearly off the map but an utter gem. Doug Bost first turned me on to their Whistler-inspired haunting highway horror “Roadkill” and I’ve been hooked ever since. Bost and his buddy Jeff Ward have been producing their stories in WBAI NYC for years, with quirky and thrilling tales ranging from truly spooky horror to wacky NPR spoofs and even some far flung Philip K. Dick’esque sci-fi.
Well, here’s a little bit of shamless self-promotion. I’ve been writing and producing my own stories under the “FinalRune” moniker for 2+ years, and in fact founded Radio Drama Revival! as a way of helping get my own work out there (and promote everything else in the medium in the process). You’ll find horror, fantasy, comedy, drama and weirder tales, all free, as well as some background information and articles on the craft.
Icebox Radio Theater
Jeff Adams has been doing a hell of a good job creating a community radio troupe in International Falls, Minnesota. The quality can sometimes be, well, “community,” but the stories are always fun, as if Garrison Keillor walked through a portal into a warped alternate universe. Also be sure to check out Adams’ work in the “ImaginationX” series of Twilight Zone-ish sci-fi/horror.
Wireless Radio Theatre
A little over a year old, The Wireless Radio Theatre Company has done an astonishing job establishing themselves as a premier source of free, high-quality, original audio theater. Cheekily dubbed a “BBC with more guts,” their stories range from speculative philoso-drama to “hard” theater, poetry and classic British comedy.
I could keep this list going for a while, but I’ve got to mention Roger Gregg’s Crazy Dog Audio Theater, which isn’t free — at least through the website — but if you sniff around the web, you’ll see that many people have played his work elsewhere (including myself on Radio Drama Revival!). I’ve also recently tuned in to Chatterbox Audio Theater, who have a good (and expanding) list of varied audio drama pieces including adaptations of classics and originals.
Keep your mind, and your ears, open!