Tony Palermo - Press Kit
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Last updated: October 30, 2018

Tony Palermo

Playwright/Sound Effects Artist/Composer/Educator

Tony%20Palermo%20-%20On%20The%20Air%202004.JPG (311x310 -- 23936 bytes)

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 2500 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 schools to 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 Norman Corwin, Peggy Webber, Eric Idle, Dirk Maggs, Yuri Rasovsky, Roger Gregg, Art Gilmore, Janet Waldo, Fred Foy, Phil Proctor & David Ossman (from Firesign Theatre), Steve Carrell, Eddie Izzard, Tracey Ullman and more. In the sound effects arena, his mentors included Bob Mott, 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 every year.

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 more. 

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.  He is currently working on A Dickens of A Christmas Carol and Dracula--as if done by Alfred Hitchcock.

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 finished with college.  

(last updated April 2018)

Press clippings:

Mr. Palermo was prominently featured in several Los Angeles Times articles about the Museum of Television & Radio's "Re-creating Radio" workshops.

Here's a link to the April 11, 2002 Los Angeles Times article [free abstract, but requires fee to access full text]
Here's a link to the June 2, 2000 Los Angeles Times article  [free abstract, but requires fee to access full text]

MP3 Audio Clips of Tony "Sparx" Palermo's productions

  • The Headless Horseman's Origin - 2-minute excerpt from Tony's adaptation of Washington Irving's Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow [2.4Mb]
  • Scrooge & Marley - 4-minute excerpt from Tony's adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol [2 Mb]
  • Life's Little Ups & Downs - 3-minute clip of a 1950s style soap opera that demonstrates radio's imaginative range [1.7 Mb]
  • Tony Palermo's articles on producing radio drama

  • How to Write Radio Drama Cues -- Advice on writing cues with clarity and precision.
  • Formatting Radio Drama Scripts for Fast Rehearsals -- A formatting method with an example script.
  • MS Word Template for Radio Scripts -- Tony's generic template for formatting radio scripts.
  • Adapting William Shakespeare for Radio and other radio writing tips -Writing radio adaptations of the classics.
  • A Method for Writing Radio Drama -- A more detailed look at the craft.
  • Toward a Radio Drama 101 -- How to get started creating radio drama.
  • Writing Children's Radio Drama -- Advice on this unique genre.
  • Writing Radio Horror Stories -- Advice on creating horror that works on radio.
  • Using the Narrator in Radio Drama Scripting -- Issues related to the narrator device in radio drama.

  • Radio Sound Effects Catalog and "How To" Guide- What Tony uses at MT&R workshops and SFX gigs.
  • Using Walla Walla Crowd Sounds in Radio Drama - Theory and practice for this important sound effect.
  • Cliff Thorsness - Sound Effects Great - an appreciation of Tony's mentor--a CBS sound man from 1938 to 1962.
  • Zounds! What Sounds! - Tony's "How To SFX" columns from the National Audio Theater Festival magazine
  • Fitting Music to Radio Drama - How to use music effectively for radio drama..
  • Scoring Radio Drama - a musician's perspective - How musicians can score for radio.
  • Preparing Radio Scripts for Production -- How to prepare SFX, Engineer books and actor's scripts.
  • Engineering Radio Drama  - Advice on microphones, effects devices, mixing, and music cues.
  • Directing Radio Drama - Advice on scripts, casting, cueing, and pacing radio drama.
  • More Advice on Radio Directing -- A bit more about directing.
  • Doing Radio Drama on Stage -- Considerations for performing radio drama before a live audience.
  • Audio Effects and Point of View -- A discussion of how to place actors in the stereo field
  • Producing Audio Theatre with Children -- Advice on how to get started producing radio drama with children doing the acting and sound effects.

  • TONY PALERMO is a radio playwright, professional sound effects artist, radio director, composer, and educator based in Los Angeles, California.

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