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Radiolab LIVE

Posted: November 7, 2013 in Uncategorized
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     Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Chicago, with my friend, Phil Ensminger.  Armed with an audio recorder, and two smartphones, the two of us set out to cram as much of the city into our weekend as our feet and phone batteries would allow. What drew us to the Windy City, was a show playing at the Chicago Theatre. RADIOLAB LIVE: APOCALYPTICAL. That’s right, the hit podcast (yes, I said podcast!) from WNYC in New York, is on a national tour performing live shows all about “The End.”  As we are both enthusiasts of pretty much anything that has to do with audio, Phil and I were not about to let this unique experience pass us by.
For a few highlights, let me set the stage…
     Hosts Jad Abumrad, and Robert Krulwich, occupied center stage in front of three large projector screens. For the most part, they were stationed behind a table with a computer and a projector. Perched on a couple of stools in business casual attire, they gave the show a very relaxed and conversational tone- a trademark of their podcasts. Stage left featured the acoustic upright bass and percussion duo made up of Darin Gray and Glenn Kotche. Over on stage right were Sarah Lipstate, who played the electric guitar, and a gentleman (his name escapes me…and I can’t seem to find it anywhere) who operated the video playing on the overhead projector, among a variety of other tasks.
      The content of the first and main segment of the show sought to answer the question of how dinosaurs become extinct on our planet. To be honest, not the most exciting topic  I’ve heard Jad and Robert tackle. A lot of experts, seemingly making educated guesses about something that, according to them happened blankety-blank million years ago. The long and the short of it was that dinosaurs were destroyed by an asteroid. Not, however from the initial impact, but from the rebound effect caused by the asteroid hitting earth’s surface and the certain gases which mixed with each other and crystallized and fell back to earth. These tiny crystals then covered the entire earth, trapping heat as they fell. Eventually the earth became so hot the dinos couldn’t take it any more and died off.
     Enough of the actual validity of their argument though, the props and audience interaction incorporated during this segment was out of the park! It featured two near life-sized dinosaur puppets from Erth Visual & Physical Inc. At various times throughout the show, the long neck of a Brachiosaurus would turn and extend out over the audience- close enough that one could reach up and touch the incredibly realistic looking replica!
     There were also some really cool visual effects seamlessly interwoven throughout the show as the dialogue between Jad, Robert, or an interviewee took place. One of the tasks of the guy operating the video, was to complete a sketch of a dinosaur fossil. With quick strokes of the pencil, he brought a dinosaur image to life before our eyes. It was as if he was an archaeologist brushing away the last bit of dirt before uncovering an ancient artifact. This overhead point of view projected on the screen behind Jad and Robert was downright awesome.
      One of my favorite aspects of the show was the sound effects and musical transitions performed live by the trio of musicians I mentioned earlier. The sounds that can be created by an electric guitar, upright bass, and a drum set, produces a unique blend of sounds to say the least. Acting like a conductor, Jad directed them when to start and stop a musical transition. My favorite transition took place at the conclusion of the Dino segment. It began as a driving piece with the drums as the predominant force. As time passed, the piece continued to grow in volume and intensity. After about a minute, the piece reached its climax- it was loud! Glenn was absolutely pounding away at his drum set. Then, Jad gave the signal to cut. As the final beat of the drums and cymbals boomed, an incredibly bright strobe light above the stage quickly blinked on for an instant. At this same moment, the three projection screens suddenly fell and dropped several feet lower than they were hanging before. Now, if their goal was to make us feel like we were engulfed in the middle of a cataclysmic, end of world catastrophe, they can rest assured! As the screens swayed in the aftermath of their abrupt fall, I checked to make sure my seat was still bolted down. This transition was so unique and executed with excellent timing and precision,  it embodied the true sense of the word- APOCALYPTICAL!!
     The sound effects continued throughout the shows as well. At one point, Darin Gray abandoned his bass for what seemed to be a piece of PVC tubing. Blowing into one end, and spinning the other end above his head, he made his way up and down the center aisle of the theatre creating a very realistic swirling wind. At another part of the show, the topic turned to birds. This time, Darin was joined by his band mate Glenn Kotche. Together, they started blowing into and twisting various bird calls. Suddenly, we were surrounded by the sounds of chirping, quacking, honking, and whistling, as the two guys rapidly changed between the different calls. The theatre was transformed into a bird sanctuary John James Audobon would have been proud of.
     One of the challenges of bringing a podcast show on live tour, would seem to be the level of (or lack of) involvement from the audience.  I have to give them props, they did a solid job of making sure the audience participated and were active listeners in the two-hour event. After coming back from a short interlude, Jad and Robert began telling us about a man who had a complex because he was the LAST one in his family. After he died, there was no one who would carry on the family name. This got the Radiolab crew wondering, what would you call someone who is the last in their family line? So, they asked for the audience to speak up and give their input. The suggestions they fielded ranged from “Endcestor,” to “Anti-Genesis,” to “Phil Collins.” As this was taking place, the guy at the projector would write the suggested name on a sheet of paper, which was projected overhead for everyone to see.
    Bottom line, even though some of the content was weak at times, this show was really, really well produced! It was primed and polished down to a tee. The transitions were executed beautifully, and the audience was engaged. Both Phil and I walked away entertained and inspired. If Radiolab ever goes on tour again, we’re game!
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FYI: Stay tuned for our podcast- devoted entirely to this trip…Coming soon!

A Message for You

Posted: May 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

Dear friends and supporters,

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been over a month since the debut of The Lost Elevator at The Landmark Center in St. Paul. Since then, our radio drama has been featured on several websites, been critically reviewed, and even played on a local radio station!
This sort of feedback and publicity has been incredible. It gives Meagan and I a fresh perspective on the power and uniqueness of this medium. The possible audiences we can impact with radio drama are nearly endless!
All this leads me to say, we are really looking forward to the potential production of our next radio drama, Alban: Of Whom the World Was Not Worthy. We plan to retell the dramatic account of Roman Britain’s first Christian martyr. To learn more about Alban, please visit our campaign page HERE. We believe that Alban is a powerful story of faith in Christ and decision making. Whether you are a follower of Christ or not, you will want to know just what sort of faith would cause an individual to make the choices Alban made.
As you may know, we are in the stretch drive of our fundraising for this campaign. We’ve made some great progress, but with just about two weeks left, we are looking to finish the campaign on a blitz!
In order for us to produce this next drama, we need your help! That support comes in many different forms. We’d be humbled if you’d consider partnering with us in one of the following ways.
Spread. Social media is all around us. It is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to spread information, and create awareness. Please take a moment to tell your friends and family about the project. Pass along our website, like our Facebook page, follow our Twitter account, and check out our Indiegogo campaign page. It’s easy to write a quick email, share on Facebook or twitter, or even tell someone in person about the project. If you tell them, and encourage them to spread the word, we suddenly reach a much broader audience!
Donate. Many different expenses stand in our way of producing a professional radio drama. Even if you can’t give a “large” amount, don’t let that stop you- every little bit helps. Many small gift are just as good as one big one- quantity is just as good as quality!  Click HERE to donate and learn more about the production!
Here are the links to our following sites:
As we near the end of our Indiegogo campaign, we wanted to come to you and ask if you would participate in this last push. Your involvement is crucial. Thank you for your consideration.
“This generation…is exposed to more stories, more powerfully presented, than any in history. 
Some are good. Too many are not.
…whoever tells the stories, defines the culture.” 
 
– Dr. David Walsh
Sincerely,
Daniel and Meagan Wanschura

We were recently approached by Jerry Stearns, the host of Sound Affects on KFAI radio.

His show often highlights radio dramas, and he said our production of The Lost Elevator ”is top notch.”
Here are the details of the airing:
Sunday, April 14, 2013
9:30pm
KFAI Radio 
FM 90.3 in Minneapolis
FM 106.7 in St. Paul


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Check out the most recent review of The Lost Elevator, from Audio Theatre Central. Thanks to J.D. Sutter for the great feedback!

 

http://www.audiotheatrecentral.com/2013/03/review-lost-elevator-by-northern-lights-radio-theater.html

 

What they are saying…

Posted: March 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Lost Elevator has been online for 4 days now, and we have had a lot of positive feedback so far! Renown music composer John Campbell, has even chimed in!

” My first impressions…. Amazing! The acting and sound FX are really amazing and I was immediately drawn into the story. I LOVE the music already! Your composer really outdid himself! Great direction. Love the classic 1930’s take.” – John Campbell

Here’s some more…

“Just wanted to let you know, I listened to The Lost Elevator a day or so ago… I loved it!  Well done, and best of all– it was hilarious 🙂  You all did a fantastic job, I cannot wait to see how the Lord will grow and use your production company in the future– you have a fantastic start!” – Amy Bohannan

Just wanted to tell you that I saw all the hard work put into The Lost Elevator, plus all the personal touches done for the premier, like the props, creative apparel, photo booth, desserts, the location…did I mention the desserts? It was fantastic to see the level of creativity that was produced. The people in my row all agreed that it was the best $3 they’d spent in a long time. Most important was seeing the heart behind this…I can’t tell you how many times I’m turned off by a production because of the motive behind it…even as a comedic front, the character this group exhibited from beginning to end was impressive. – Rebekah Fager

“The Lost Elevator is excellent! Great Job Dan! You and your team did an incredible job.” – Nolan Hicks

“#northernlightsmedia new radio drama is simply delightful check it out: http://www.thelostelevator.com” – BadCab Productions ‏@BadCabPro

“Charming radio production: The Lost Elevator @norlightsmedia” – Riley P. ‏@MusicalFiction

 “A lovely, perfect nugget of a listen.” –Monika Khandelwal

“This is great Dan. I was laughing the whole time :-)” – SeandrewC

Thanks for taking the time to listen and comment. We REALLY appreciate it! Keep sharing the drama and keep the comments coming!

The Lost Elevator Premieres!

Posted: March 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Lost Elevator

On Friday, The Lost Elevator premiered before a near capacity crowd at the F.K. Weyhaeuser Auditorium in The Landmark Center. In addition to the radio drama, guests were treated to several special features, including a behind the scenes look at the production process. The evening was staged in the 1930’s (the decade of The Lost Elevator) with the cast and many of the guests dressed in period clothing. The environment was further warmed by the presence an antique replica photo-booth and dainty petit fours, and lots of friendly interaction. The enthusiasm was truly palpable!  The newest production endeavor of Northern Lights Media was also announced at the end of the show. Find out all about it HERE.

In the meantime, enjoy listening to The Lost Elevator. Remember to keep sharing it with others!

Produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.
www.samuelfrench.com
www.samuelfrench.com/p/8034/lost-elevator-the

Recently, Phil and I had the opportunity to venture into Downtown St. Paul with a mission of capturing some unique audio for The Lost Elevator.  Armed with a Zoom H4N digital recorder, a shotgun mic, an iPhone, and a few business cards, we set out to hit up The Landmark Center, The “BFA” Building, and The Union Depot. Two elevators, one bustling corridor, and two hours later, we had an excellent selection of audio which will give us a good base for sound design. Folks, it’s real; it’s raw; it’s really raw! Enjoy…