Tony Palermo, also known as
SPARX, is a radio dramatist/sound effects artist/composer/educator based in Los
Angeles, California. He writes, performs and teaches across the U.S. and around the
world. He does everything in radio drama from the creative to the technical to the
educational to the mundane (footsteps, doors, etc).
Mr. Palermo has worked on over 2000 radio dramas in the classic
“old-time radio” style of the 1930s-1960s. He writes scripts, composes scores,
performs sound effects, and directs performances to recreate the
lost art of the radio’s “theater of the mind.” His radio dramas cover the classic
radio genres of soap operas, science-fiction, detective shows, westerns,
horror stories, historical dramas, and even super-hero spoofs. Mr. Palermo’s
radio plays have been performed by hundreds of troupes across the world, ranging from
community theaters to professional Hollywood actors to international
casts for the United Nations.
Mr. Palermo has directed hundreds of radio productions since 1996 and worked
with a variety of old-time and new-time radio talents, including
Webber, Eric Idle,
Roger Gregg, Art Gilmore, Janet Waldo, Fred Foy,
Phil Proctor & David Ossman, Steve Carrell. In the sound effects arena, his
mentors include Bob Mott,
the late Ray Erlenborn and Cliff Thorsness--sound effects artists for
Orson Welles, Jack Benny and Fanny Brice. As a specialty, Mr. Palermo
literally follows in the (fake) footsteps of the
tradition of radio sound effects as a performer, inventor, and educator.
Mr. Palermo's dozens of radio-on-stage dramas and
traditional stage-plays are produced by hundreds of troupes across the world
Mr. Palermo also teaches groups to produce radio plays in a
workshop setting. In the space of two hours, he can cast, rehearse, and
produce a 30-minute program of near-professional quality--even with children.
Mr. Palermo employs his own pre-recorded musical scores and directs the
performances in the manner of a orchestra conductor--coordinating the voices,
sound effects, and music cues. In these workshops, 15 to 20 participants
handle all acting roles as well as provide the many sound effects ranging from
footsteps and door knocks to rumbling thunder, ray guns, sword fights and
Mr. Palermo boasts that his audio productions feature the
“world’s greatest special effects device”--the human mind. He employs manual sound
effects and the listening audience’s imagination to crash airplanes in the
Amazon, have Crusaders wade through an ocean of bones, sink pirate ships,
launch Indian attacks, and even steal Los Angeles’ Getty Center Art Museum.
Says Mr. Palermo, “In radio, you can do anything, and that’s my motto--do
the impossible! My scripts would cost Steven Spielberg millions, but on
radio, I can destroy the world for about $5 worth of sound effects. We
create a whole world before your very ears--and then, tear it down.”
Always interested in spreading the “Hey! Let’s do a show,”
ethic, Mr. Palermo hosts an extensive website on radio drama resources,
covering the creative aspects of working in the medium. He provides
instruction on writing, scoring, sound effects, engineering, and direction for
use by teachers, students, and fans of the medium.
Mr. Palermo also worked as a radio DJ,
TV sound technician, computer consultant, Hollywood prop man,
journalist, and musician. He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife,
Carla Fantozzi. Their three noisy children are finally away at college.
(last updated October 2015)