Writing in Stereo

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Lesson 1C Notes

March 30th, 2010

The original Writing in Stereo was published online back in the late 1980’s.  Its purpose was to apply creative radio dramatics to all aspects of the teaching of high school English.  Each lesson included a lesson plan and notes.  I’m sharing these with you here.

Notes (I.C)

The four types listed were staples of the golden age of radio. We use the term "romance" in the traditional sense: stories of good and evil featuring magical characters in fairy tale-like settings. In this broad genre, even Star Wars is a romance.

If kids seem stumped, you can suggest they adapt an example from motion pictures or television. There's no harm in this as fiction's adaptation is the ultimate objective of this strategy. If you must insist on originality, let them use TV characters in a new plot. Should they lift whole plots from television or movies, there's no great harm. Students will discover radio requires changes be made. Visual media dialogue needs planting to work in radio. That may be the most effective way to teach this lesson.

Book and audio stores carry a variety of tapes and some records of classic program titles in these genre. In my collection of disks and tapes I have Jungle Jim, Jack Armstrong, Captain Midnight, and Superman--examples of serialized adventure shows--Sherlock Holmes, Dragnet, Green Hornet, Gang Busters, and The Shadow--examples of mystery/crime shows--Gunsmoke, Sergeant Preston and The Lone Ranger--westerns--The War of The Worlds, The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, Star Wars, and Buck Rogers--science fiction. Comedy, suspense, soap operas and adaptations from other media also flourished on the radio, but the four types I selected for this lesson are the easiest for students to recognize and recreate.

I also have an edited disk recording of the soundtrack of Raiders of The Lost Ark. I play a portion of this as an example of movie sound without pictures. The film is old enough that many students have not seen the movie and cannot imagine what is going on in this melodramatic visual adventure. The sound effects, music, and sparse dialogue provide little in the way of clues. It makes a fitting prelude and contrast for the older radio recordings with their abundant dialogue planting, carefully placed effects, and music bridges between scenes.