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Radio Theater Lives On In Audio Books, Podcasts And Video Games

Flickr/Bob DiBono

The golden age of radio drama might have been in the 1930s and 40s, but practitioners say the genre is alive and kicking in podcasts, audiobooks, and even video games.

Next weekend, Kansas City will host Hear Now: The Audio Arts and Fiction Festival, which will draw old-timey radio voices as well as younger producers. 

"There are what we refer to as the roots of our artistic endeavors and the roots of our art form," says festival organizer Sue Zizza. "The truth is that there are many, many contemporary artists who are currently producing audio drama, audio theater and audio fiction in many different forms."

This is the festival's inaugural year, though audio theater has long found a home in Missouri. Zizza says her organization, the National Audio Theatre Festivals, has put on radio theater workshops throughout the state in recent years, and has a strong relationship with the Missouri Arts Council. 

And even though it's just the first year, Zizza says the festival has drawn a high level of interest. There were so many submissions, in fact, that the judges selecting which pieces were to be aired barely had enough time to review all of them.

"I think [audio fiction] is only going to continue to be an ever-evolving and changing art form," Zizza says. "Thanks to the Internet, producers have the opportunity, even if the local radio station or the local commercial station doesn't have room for their programing, the Internet gives them the opportunity to put their material out in podcasts and streaming."

Sylvia Maria Gross is storytelling editor at KCUR 89.3. Reach her on Twitter @pubradiosly.
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