Long, long ago, it was very common to sit around the radio and listen to the latest episodes of old-time radio dramas and serials (like The Shadow). However, when people were able to put a picture with the image, it seemed as though that form of entertainment started to fade. Rather than fictional dramas, radio stations started broadcasting more music and news (and eventually morning zoo radio…)
However, a select few have taken to the Internet to bring back this old form of entertainment. Riding on the shoulders of old-form broadcast giants, there has been a rebirth of fictional audio drama. Fortunately for you, MakeUseOf has taken the time to find a research some of the best free audio drama selections out there. So grab the kids and gather around the old laptop – it’s time for the MUO Audio Drama Hour.
The Audio Drama Directory [No Longer Available]
The Audio Drama Directory offers a wide selection of radio dramas for just about every type of listener. With categories that range all the way from comedy to fan fiction to thrillers, you’re likely to never get bored! (in fact, you’ll even find a few old time radio shows here). Regarding quality, most of the shows I found are well-produced, and although none of them are actually hosted on the site itself, going to off-site links wasn’t much of a nuisance.
As an added note, if you are interested in producing your own show (and it’s free), you can submit it to the site with the possibility of getting your very own link. Additionally, the directory offers a rating system much like the MPAA movie rating guide for those of you looking for something for the kids.
Featuring several established names (including Sylvestor McCoy and Jenny Agutter), The Minister of Chance is defined as a “sonic movie” set in a spinoff world from Doctor Who. That said, it’s produced like a movie, but the one thing missing is a camera! Aside from that, every single bit of the drama from the dialogue to the film score is meant to be like a film.
The sinister radio-like show is fairly well-produced (sounding very much like an actual film when you’d least expect it). Coming from the sci-fi fantasy genre, the show offers decent dialogue and drama in a brink-of-war type situation.
The project itself is entirely funded by its listeners, so if you enjoy it, you could consider donating to the production. That said, episode timing is entirely bent on available funds.
Acting as a modern Mercury Theatre (of classic Orson Welles fame), the Wireless Theatre Company presents a great selection of radio-inspired plays to listen to on a relatively cluttered blog-like page. Despite the web design, don’t let it deter you from listening to the well-produced audio creations that are on the site.
That said, the content ranges from the outlandish to the dramatic, and there are even a few great actors found here. (For instance, Stephen Fry himself is included in a BBC-related cameo…)
Disclaimer: You do have to log in if you want to listen to the full shows. Although this is a minor (seemingly unnecessary) obstacle, I’d say it’s worth it.
Affectionately referred to as iSoaps, NewFiction.com publishes a few free audio books for the listener on the go. After signing up and subscribing, the web service will send you installments of your favorite selections to whatever modern Internet-accessible device you happen to have. That said, my only frustration is that you actually have to sign up with the site to look at anything. In my ideal Shangri-La world, I’d have all of the audio books publicly available with the subscription option accessible only through a sign-up process.
All that said, there are only six series available for you to listen to. However, with a consistently updated free service, it really shouldn’t be much of a problem.
Similar to The Wireless Theatre Company, Pendant Productions is devoted to offering a consist anthology of audio productions for loyal listeners. Also similarly, the site’s design is looking pretty rough. But even still, this is a site for audio productions – not CSS tips. I liked the quality found here, but admittedly, I felt as if it was a little difficult to actually find the shows. The front page is a confusing messy mix of updates, and it can hard to find the simple list of what shows are available (it’s on the left-hand side).
Of course, don’t let the navigation and awkward site design make you fret. The production quality is on par with every other site found here. Sha-bam.
LearnOutLoud.com itself is meant as more of an educational site, but hidden deep in the recesses of its many audio files are a few classic radio shows for the nostalgic listener. Granted, there aren’t many link sources available. At the time that this is being written, there are only around four big ones. However, they are definitely audio gold, and the links often lead to stashes of multiple plays that are worth listening to.
Here, you’ll find productions including Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre and renditions of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. Bonus: Look around and you’ll be able to listen to the classic panic-inducing War of the Worlds broadcast.
These are just a few audio drama sites that you can find on the web. Personally, I’m just pleased with the modern quality of an old form of entertainment!
What other free audio dramas do you like to listen to? Do you have your own online audio drama?
Image Credit: sullivan