KSDB Radio Playhouse presents live radio dramas

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James Copeland, KSDB programing director, looks into the studio from the control room on Oct. 24, 2017. (Photo by Brittany Reed | Collegian Media Group)

Inside a studio at KSDB, Kansas State’s student-run radio station, a sound technician plays nostalgic music while actors prepare their scripts. Suddenly, the lights dim and the listening audience travels back in time with spies and starships.

For its second year running, the KSDB Radio Playhouse aired live radio dramas Tuesday night, featuring K-State student actors and radio personnel.

James Copeland, KSDB programming director and senior in mass communications, said the two dramas, “Extrasolar Squad” and “The Last Broadcast,” are original student productions reminiscent of 1930s radio programs.

“This is all student-written,” Copeland said. “We do have some digital sound effects, but we try to do sound effects manually, using whatever works.”

Copeland said more than 20 people were involved with the production, including studio coordinators, actors, sound effect operators and sound technicians.

Both radio drama programs were directed by Brennan Flanagan, junior in education, and written by K-State students. Flanagan is an underwriting director for KSDB and helped create the KSDB Radio Playhouse series with help from On the Spot, K-State’s improvised acting group.

“We thought, ‘What could be better than to get some actors to do some old time radio drama?,’” Flanagan said. “So we had this grand idea to go back in time and do these programs.”

The KSDB Radio Playhouse’s first program was a Christmas special last year. The group has since performed Shakespeare and other original student productions during holiday seasons.

Brett Broadbent, sophomore in theatre and actor with KSDB Radio Playhouse and On the Spot, said he was interested in character and voice acting roles with the KSDB radio station.

“I really enjoy it,” Broadbent said. “It’s really fun to play multiple characters and getting to see the live action sound effects is also really cool.”

Broadbent wore a 1930s-style suit to Tuesday’s production to get into character, but he said the KSDB programs are also dissimilar to old-time radio dramas in some ways.

“For today, it’s very different because the 1930s radio dramas were something everybody around the country listened to,” Broadbent said. “For us, it’s about getting as many people invested in it as possible.”

The KSDB Radio Playhouse partnered with the local cafe Bluestem Bistro to air the drama program in their coffee shop for more publicity and community involvement, Flanagan said. KSDB has also received publicity from the awards won for previous drama productions.

Both radio programs are on the KSDB website archives and include audio and visual programs.

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News and Science Writer for the Collegian. Senior in Food Science with a Minor in Mass Communications from Topeka, Kansas. Graphic and Video Design. I cook … a lot.