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The Museum of Television & Radio's
Re-creating Radio Workshop

by Tony Palermo

To arrange to make use of my scripts and scores for your own workshops, see my Audio Theatre Workshop Repertoire page.

    Re-creating Radio is a two-hour family workshop at the Museum of Television & Radio where kids, age 9-to-14 and their parents (or grandparents) produce a radio drama using scripts, sound effects, and music. The Los Angeles MT&R's workshop is structured as a real, old time radio production with casting, microphone and sound effects training, a cue rehearsal, and “live” broadcast. The program is recorded and an audio cassette is mailed to each participant. It is tremendous fun and special workshops have been held for senior citizens and other groups. Funding has been graciously provided by the Ahmanson Foundation.

    Please note the MT&R will no longer offer this workshop after June 2008. They've recently changed their name to the Paley Center For Media, and have shifted their focus away from educational workshops.

    Here's a link to an April 11, 2002 Los Angeles Times story on the workshop.
    And here's a June 2, 2000 Los Angeles Times article.
    (NOTE: There's a $2.00 fee to retrieve this last article from their archive.)

    The MT&R's official Re-creating Radio page features photographs from the New York and Los Angeles workshops as well as their current schedules.

    The “MT&R Radio Network” produces a variety of radio dramas in the style of The Lone Ranger, Superman, and The Shadow--we actually produced those very shows for years, but trademark issues forced us to create new characters for our original scripts. Our current lineup for Fall 2002 includes Hawk of the West, a slam-bam Western shoot'em up; Life’s Little Ups & Downs, a wacky 1950s soap-opera; Radio Ranger, a modern day super-hero ; Our annual Christmas holiday workshop produces Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.

    Re-creating Radio
    is not just for kids, but they are our target audience--we are funded by grants and currently they are for family workshops. Our programs are neither risqué, nor are they "dumbed-down" for children. We produce exciting re-creations of classic radio genres suitable for adults and children. An especially good combination for our workshops is to have grandparents and children participate. The only requirement is the ability to read. We would love to offer a Thursday evening workshop to MT&R members of any age, but funding must be found first.

    Enrollment is limited to twenty participants per workshop and tickets must be purchased in advance of the workshop date (you can pay by credit card,  mailing in checks, or dropping by the Museum.) Many workshops are sold out weeks in advance, so don't delay. Tickets are available at the Museum; prices are $10 for children and $10 for adults. The MT&R also offers special Sunday workshops (for birthday parties, scout troops, etc.) . For reservations, call (310) 786-1014, Wednesday through Friday, 12 noon to 5:00 p.m..

    NOTE:  The MT&R in New York City  features several of the programs from the Los Angeles museum. The New York schedule is not available here. Call (212) 621-6600 Wednesday through Friday, 12 noon to 5:00 p.m. for reservations in New York.

Re-creating Radio Workshops at the MT&R in Los Angeles

    Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. to Noon. (Come a little early, too.) Park under the museum for free.

    The Museum of Television & Radio
    465 North Beverly Drive (at "little" Santa Monica Blvd.)
    Beverly Hills, CA 90210
    Park under the museum for free.
    Call (310) 786-1014 for workshop reservations.

    The Re-creating Radio workshops fill up weeks in advance--don't delay calling.
    NOTE: For an extra fee, you can book a special Sunday morning workshop for groups, such as birthday parties, scout troops or even adult radio fans.

    For program descriptions, see our repertoire section below.

MT&R Re-creating Radio Workshop Overview

    The purpose of the Museum of Television & Radio's Re-creating Radio workshop is to teach participants what radio drama is and how it is done. We take people with no prior experience and, in two hours, produce a radio drama. The workshop is targeted at children ages 9 to 14, but we have done many with adults and had great success with senior citizens. The program is fun and very popular. We have set a minimum age of 9 because reading is essential for both actors and sound effects artists.

    While our programs and methods are modeled on Old Time Radio, the process isn't just a nostalgia trip. The skills developed here are in much demand today, not only for audio drama or books on tape, but as the first step in producing animated TV shows, films, and multi-media projects. We are telling stories with sound and that is a timeless skill that will never go out of date. Future writers, directors, actors, and technicians can get hands-on training in the very media that surrounds them.

    The experience of producing a radio program is our basic goal, however like art workshops, there is a product that the participants get to keep; a cassette of the show, which is mailed to each participant in a few weeks. This tape is something that will be “shown off” to family and friends in a way that other art work would not. We have chosen a variety of genres to demonstrate radio’s dramatic spectrum and employ credible sound effects and effective music to produce authentic, and not “dumbed-down” radio drama.  Total authenticity is mitigated by the workshop requirements of large casts and sound effects crews, so we can’t just grab any old radio script and produce it. The scripts we use are specifically written to demonstrate radio drama conventions and techniques and fit within the 20-25 minute program time limit that we can rehearse, perform and listen to in the space of a two hour workshop.

    In keeping with the theme of Re-creating Radio, the workshop is structured like a real golden age radio production. There is an audition, rehearsal, and a “live” performance, in addition to an overview of radio drama and instruction on radio skills and sound effects.

    To maximize the use of time, we begin the workshop without a formal introduction. Since participants generally arrive early for the 10 a.m. workshops, we immediately hand them an audition script. The audition is used to cast the most able performers and insure the best quality acting for our production. Additionally, the casting monologues serve to introduce all participants to the characters in our drama, providing background information and motivation.

    After the performers have auditioned, there is a hands-on demonstration of the various sound effects devices used in our programs. Many of these are authentic sound effects donated from the old NBC and CBS radio sound departments.

    After all auditions have been completed, the workshop is formally introduced and we view a marvelous film clip showing how a 1939 western radio program was produced. Then the director explains today's script and announces the cast for the actors' roles. The workshop breaks up into two groups--actors receive training on dialogue, character, and motivation, while sound effects artists learn how to produce the specific sounds for this production.

    A half-hour “cue” rehearsal is held to learn the story and coordinate the dialogue, music, and sound effects. During the rehearsal, participants can take pictures or videos.  Then we start from the beginning for our “broadcast" (live to tape). As in real radio, we do not stop if a mistake is made. When the performance is finished, we play back the tape to cast and crew. Participants are usually amazed at the quality of their productions. The cassette of the program will be duplicated and sent to the workshop participants in a few weeks. After the workshop, attendees are welcome to proceed through the Museum to see exhibitions or use the TV and radio library.

    Our workshop is very popular and many participants come back to do other shows, so much so, that we are developing new shows and episodes of current shows to better meet the demand.

NOTE: To arrange to make use of my scripts and scores for your own workshops, see my Audio Theatre Workshop Repertoire page.

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TONY PALERMO is an audio theatre producer, performer, and educator living in Los Angeles, California.
He performs professionally, conducts workshops, and produces programs for hire.
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All contents © 1996-2006 by Anthony E. Palermo. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 03/02/11