Introduction: Isolation, Radio Drama, and Saskatchewan
hundred thousand listening to this program’, which sounds huge to a poet or a … Bustin - (laughing) playwright who has ten people come to their show.
Radio drama is very accessible at the time of its initial broadcast. Part of this
accessibility comes from the technology involved; a radio can be listened to, ideally,
anywhere within range of the transmitter. Radio drama also owes its initial accessibility
to the form itself. As Richard Imison observed in “Radio and Theatre: a British
Radio is the least self-conscious form of drama: it involves no preparation or formal disposition on the part of the listener. It is a private experience, even when more than one person is present, because the process of creation is continued by each one independently; the sounds may be common to all, but the pictures and the thoughts and associations are highly individual. The line from the author’s mind to the listener’s is very short and very direct. It is a line of pure ideas (Imison 291).
The potential accessibility of radio drama at the time it is broadcast is undeniable. Radio
drama meets accessibility restrictions after it is broadcast. Comparatively few radio plays
are published, distributed and critically studied – especially in relation to more “literary”
forms like the novel, short story, and poetry. Radio dramas most often survive in audio
form. Schöning wrote in “The Contours of Acoustic Art” of the needed effort to make
radio dramas more accessible:
The archives of the radio broadcasters are the greatest acoustic treasure trove of the twentieth century. They should be made accessible not only to commercial publishers but also to schools, universities, research institutes, and public audio libraries. The potential has scarcely been realized: the fact that these programs were conceived for the enjoyment of the moment has tended to conceal the extraordinary cultural achievement of non-commercial, public radio. As it is, the reputation of electronic audio-visual art in the published opinion of the cultural establishment at the end of the “electronic century” lags far behind that of the printed text, of theatre or opera (Schöning 310 – italics added).