line Belmont Admiral Crosley Westinghouse Ekco Fada Tesla motorola line

Radio Was Largely Abandoned by Advertisers

But Not By Fans

Perhaps, you experienced the magic of Radio in your childhood, or your imagination was inspired by a program like, National Public Radio's Selected Shorts. Maybe, you habitually listen to some of the radio theater shows available on public broadcast on weekends.

Leonard Maltin's Documentary about Theater of the Imagination

Radio evolved naturally to meet the same kind of interest as novels, popular music, dance and theater. As with any art that commerce and propaganda can exploit, Radio evolved to meet spiritual needs and commercial applications arose because of its ability to attract and influence an audience.
TV Console
When television sets were made affordable in the mid-1950s, sponsors of Radio moved their advertising budgets from radio into television. Writing and production talent followed the money, as did the public, fascinated with watching real time live video images, and they also followed the talent. Radio was left with meager resources for quality programming and it tried to compete by becoming more commercial, with the result that it became less appealing to listeners. If it wasn't for Baseball, Rock 'n Roll, Country Music and long freeway commutes, Radio might have disappeared completely--or perhaps, returned to Radio artists.

Digital technology, satellite relays and the Internet exponentially multiplied the number of listening choices for audiences everywhere. They also made audio production and distribution much more affordable.

Radio is too powerful a medium to be neglected forever.


Radio City Playhouse - "The Plotters"

Amos'nAndy Radio City Basil Rathbone

Perhaps, when you were a child, you listened with excitement as someone read a story aloud. The story engaged your imagination. This is the experience of radio theater. There are three factors driving the resurgence of radio as a more important part of our culture: the populations of many urban areas are as large as the national population that radio served in its hay day; people are spending more time alone in their cars than they used to spend relaxing at home after dinner; there are large and growing groups of people who have either seen everything that television has to offer and they are no longer impressed, or they are on the Internet, and while their hands and eyes are occupied, their ears are not.

Audio drama is like reading in the way it involves imagination. Consider the power of imagination:

Isaac Asimov - Exploring Tomorrow - "The Liar"

Perception and Imagination

In theory, a machine can be engineered such that if it is programmed with correct algorithms and fed the appropriate multi-dimensional data, it will generate in an instant, an accurate model of a universe that physicists now believe took nearly 14 billion years to evolve to its present state.

Neutron Starquake NASA

Photo of a neutron "starquake", December 2004 - NASA

The machine exists. A human brain does this constantly. It's limitation is that, for most of us, it must focus on relatively small views. Some individuals demonstrate that this constraint may not be a limitation of the brain, but of the individual's ability to use it. The brain stores more detailed and complex relationships than we need to recall. Language, which is a system of metaphors, allows us to describe complex scenarios and mosaic views that extend the scope of our views, and also allows us to network with others to create even wider views. Novels are complex views. Music, painting, dance and sculpture are more sensual, emotional views.

Jump Rope

A brain can imagine the most ethereal qualities of the universe, even spiritual nuances for which there are no words, but may be conveyed and comprehended in works of art, music, dance, theater and literature.

Elegant solutions in math or science, music, poetry, sculpture, architecture, plays, paintings, designs and attributes of voice, gesture or character evoke pleasurable responses in the perceptive brain.

Whether or not a listener or viewer experiences pleasure depends on the recognition, conscious or unconscious (limbic response) of evocative distinctions. There are unconscious responses present for all stimuli.

Martin & Lewis

Art invites and even compels receptivity beyond reason.

Turkistan Weaver


Advanced technologies have evolved to manage and inform ever larger organizations of human beings.

Parmigiani Watch

Broadcast media and the Internet created new art forms made possible by advanced technology.

The audio techniques developed for radio theater in the 1930s and 40s by Orson Welles and his colleagues were incorporated into motion picture sound tracks, popular music, and recently in architecture. Development of technique in radio theater has been incrementally constrained by sponsors unwillingness to risk offending the taste or beliefs of potential audiences...

Sinclair Lewis

"Advertising is a valuable economic factor because it is the cheapest way of selling goods, particularly if the goods are worthless."

--Sinclair Lewis

...and most artistic and technical development stopped abruptly when national sponsors abandoned radio for television, leaving only meager local advertising markets to support radio programming.

Kovacs and Adams

When you experience the potential of the media demonstrated by creative people like Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams (photo on right), and many of the programs produced by British radio and television, not to mention viral successes like,, it appears that Radio and TV in America are the least interesting broadcast media in America, with radio far behind.

"Life is a great story with a tough punch line."

SDRT - An Internet Radio Station (next page)


Copyright for much of the material on these pages belongs to Michael Winn and San Diego Radio TheaterĀ® or others.
line  HOME   About SDRT   Projects   Auditions   Contact   Gallery   Imagine   Resources   SDRT Online