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STLCC-Wildwood to Relive Radio Play Era

November 08, 2013

Wonderful Life  
STLCC student Halii Fain portrays Violet in "It's a
Wonderful Life: Radio Play."

Before we were all glued to big screen televisions, tablets and video games, families gathered around the radio and let their imaginations fill in the details of the stories coming across the radio waves.

On Dec. 6, St. Louis Community College invites the public to revisit those simpler times and experience the radio play.

The beloved holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” will come to life as a live, 1940s radio broadcast at STLCC-Wildwood, 2645 Generations Drive. Seating is on a first come, first-served basis. Doors will open at 7 p.m. and the performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. In the spirit of the season, visitors are asked to bring a canned good to donate to The Circle of Concern food pantry or a new toy for Santa’s Helpers.

Initially developed in the 1920s, radio plays had become the leading form of popular entertainment by the 1940’s. One of the most famous radio drama broadcasts was Orson Welles’ “The War of the Worlds,” a 1938 version of the H.G. Wells novel. There were dozens of programs in many different genres, including mysteries, thrillers, soap operas and comedies.

In the era of old time radio, sound effects were created by sound effects men and occasionally women called Foley artists. The sound effects technicians collected an enormous array of objects to create the mood and add detail to the play, including unlikely sources such as corn flakes, Jelly Beans and scrub brushes. While recorded effects were first used as early as 1928, most of the sounds were created live. The play will feature actors in front of old-fashioned microphones. The audience also will be able to see Foley artists as they create their special effects.

Before the show, community members are invited to learn more about radio plays by attending “The Early Days of Radio Shows,” a free lecture led by Robert Lord at 10 a.m. on Dec. 5, also at STLCC-Wildwood. To register, call 314-984-7777.