Introduction | Task | Resources | Process | Evaluation |Conclusion
Back before there were televisions and computers, there was
radio. Families of the 1930s and 1940s would gather around the radio and listen
to their favorite programs such as Little Orphan Annie, Amos and Andy, The
Guiding Light, and The Shadow. Millions of Americans tuned in daily
to their favorite programs, just as today we tune in to our favorite television
shows. Radio allowed the listener to create their own images of characters and
settings, a luxury that we no longer have in these days of television. Take a
journey back to the "Golden Age of Radio" as you learn about Radio
You are an employee of a local radio station. Your boss, who
grew up during the "Golden Age" of radio, has decided to add new programming to
the station. He has assigned you and your co-workers the task of writing and
producing a new radio drama. Your boss expects you and your co-workers to
research the history of radio drama and use this knowledge to create a script
for a new radio mystery/suspense series. He wants the script to contain
references to sound effects as well as the actors' dialogue. In addition to the
script, you and your team are to present a recorded demo-version of the play,
complete with sound effects, that will be recorded on audio
Playwright: It is the responsibility of the playwright to write the actual script for the radio drama. The other members of the group will provide creative input, but the playwright will be held accountable for actually writing the script on paper.
Foley Artist: It is the responsibility of the Foley artist to create the sound effects for the radio drama. This person will be responsible for ensuring that all props are brought to the recording studio when needed. The Foley artist will make sure that the playwright includes all sound effects in the script.
Advertising Executive: It is the responsibility of the advertising executive to write the commercials for the radio drama. This person should decide where the commercials should be placed in the script and inform the playwright of these decisions.
All members of the group are expected to contribute in each area. The person in charge of each area will make the final decisions.
Radio Days History Part 1 This site provides a brief history of the world from 1931-1939.
Radio Days History Part 2 This site provides brief history of the world from 1941-1949.
Old-Time Radio: The Golden Years (http://www.old-time.com/golden.html) This site provides a table that shows the year that many radio programs began.
The History of Radio (http://www.old-time.com/halper00.html) This site provides a series of articles that "includes some of the 'environment' surrounding the periods: examples of what folks of the time thought were important, and affected their lives."
Radio Timelines (http://www.otr.com/timeline.shtml) Provides timelines for the current month in history.
Any Year in History (http://www.scopesys.com/year) Provides historic events and birthdays that occurred during a specific month and year in history.
All members of the group need to contribute to the construction of the timeline. Select one person to actually write the timeline on paper. Be creative. Feel free to add graphics or drawings to make your timeline more visual.
Click here to see some example timelines made by students.
Format for a Radio Play Script (http://www.greatnorthernaudio.com/audio_theater/format.txt) This page presents a sample format for writing a radio play script. Read through this page so you will be familiar with this format. This is the format you will follow when you write you own script. You might want to print this page and use it for reference when you write your own script.
Vintage Radio Script Library Page (http://www.genericradio.com/). Click on one of the scripts provided on this page such as The Shadow: "The Ghost Walks Again." Read through the script to become familiar with what a real radio play script looks like. Pay particular attention to the story line, noticing how they present the setting, character, plot, etc.
1938 "War of the Worlds" Radio Broadcast Wavs Listen to some of the sound files on this page. Pay particular attention to how the actors read the script. When this broadcast was originally aired, people in the United States actually believed that Earth was being invaded by aliens. A copy of the script for this play can be found at http://www.genericradio.com/waroftheworlds.htm.
Sound Effects (http://www.old-time.com/sfx.html) Read through this history of sound effects in radio. Pay particular attention to the examples given of how to make particular sounds.
The Art of Foley (http://www.marblehead.net/foley/) Read the section titled "What is Foley" and view the movie clips located near the end of the page. This should provide you a good definition of what Foley artists do.
Movie Sound Effects (http://www.pbs.org/ktca/newtons/12/movisnd.html) Read through the Insights & Connections and the Vocabulary sections. This will add to your background knowledge of sound effects. You might also consider trying to do the Main Activity.
Radio Sound Effects (http://www.mtn.org/~jstearns/Sound_Effects.html) Read through the information in this site, focusing your attention on the section titled "Using Sound Effects."
The Radio Sounds Showcase (http://earthstation1.simplenet.com/radio.html#Commercials) Listen to the wav files for some of the 1930s era commercials. This will give you some ideas of how radio commercials were designed.
Vintage Radio Script Library Page
(http://www.genericradio.com). Click on one of the scripts provided
on this page such as The
Shadow: "The Ghost Walks Again." Read through the commercials in the
script. Use this as a guide to writing your own advertisements for your
radio play. Pay particular attention to where the commercial interruptions
Music Director: You need ti know all the other jobs inorder to provide the appropriate music.
MUSIC RESOURCES: http://www2.siba.fi/Kulttuuripalvelut/music.html
Classical Music - Classical Net - Classical Music http://www.classical.net/
The World-Wide Web Virtual Library: Classical Music http://www.gprep.org/classical/
This is a list of all of the web sites linked to in this assignment.
Old-Time Radio: The Golden Years (http://www.old-time.com/golden.html)
The History of Radio (http://www.old-time.com/halper00.html)
Radio Timelines (http://www.otr.com/timeline.shtml)
Any Year in History (http://www.scopesys.com/year)
Format for a Radio Play Script (http://www.greatnorthernaudio.com/audio_theater/format.txt)
Vintage Radio Script Library Page (http://www.genericradio.com)
1938 "War of the Worlds" Radio Broadcast Wavs
Sound Effects (http://www.old-time.com/sfx.html)
The Art of Foley (http://www.marblehead.net/foley/)
Movie Sound Effects (http://www.pbs.org/ktca/newtons/12/movisnd.html)
Radio Sound Effects (http://www.mtn.org/~jstearns/Sound_Effects.html
The Radio Sounds Showcase (http://earthstation1.simplenet.com/radio.html#Commercials)
Each member of your group will be given an individual grade and a group grade.
You will be graded individually on your part of the final script (i.e. playwright - script, Foley artist - written description of the sound effects/effectiveness of sound effects, advertising executive - written commercials).
Your group grade will be based on your actual performance of the radio play as well as the overall effect of the script as a whole. It will also include your timeline, which will be evaluated on accuracy as well as creativity.
The individual grade and the group grade will each be worth fifty percent of the total grade.
To see a grading rubric, click here.
The "Golden Age of Radio" is an important part of the history of our country. It provided people with news of wars, messages of encouragement from our leaders, and was a source of entertainment to the masses. It had the power to persuade as well as to entertain.
After completing this WebQuest, you hopefully have a better understanding of the history of radio drama and have a better understanding of what it takes to create a radio drama.
To learn more about old-time radio, visit Old Time Radio or The Original Old-Time Radio WWW Pages. To learn more about the War of the Worlds broadcast, visit War of the Worlds.