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Tune In Next Week
 
Ages 9 to 12
Recreate the fun of the glory days of radio.

What You Need
Old Fashion Radio

  • Cassette recorder with built-in microphone or a separate microphone
  • One cassette audiotape
  • Simple household items for making sound effects (for example: a cooking pot with a wooden spoon; a box of spaghetti; a balloon; a crystal glass; a piece of sandpaper; empty soda bottles)
  • A few samples of old-time radio theater from audiocassettes available at the library or from online sources

What to Do

Long ago, before TV and computer games, people listened to their favorite programs on the radio. In the golden era of radio, there were comedies, mysteries, thrillers, soap operas, and science fiction to choose from. Of course, you had to use your imagination to picture the characters and the actions. But that was what made it so much fun—for the whole family.

  1. With your child, find some examples of old-fashioned radio drama at the local library or on the Internet.
  2. Pick an evening when the family can be together. Gather in a comfortable room in your home and turn down the lights. Invite everyone to close their eyes and use their imaginations as you play one or more of the old radio shows you and your child have discovered.
  3. Now create your own radio performance with sound effects and music. Start by having someone in your family suggest an idea for a commercial or a story.
  4. Once you decide what you want to say, figure out what sound effects you need and who will do the voices. Then record your commercial or story on audio tape. Have one person run the cassette recorder while others make the sound effects.
  5. Play back the tape and decide what does or doesn't work. Then try recording your commercial again with whatever changes you wish to make.

What Else You Can Do

  • Turn a short story into an improvised radio drama. Start by inviting family members to share a story. This could be a true story, a family story, a folktale, or something entirely made up. Next, decide which one of these stories you want to dramatize. Then select a narrator, characters, sound effects person, and recording engineer. When you're ready, roll the tape!
  • Even today, radio has more to offer than news, music, and talk shows. A radio program like A Prairie Home Companion features original comedy skits done just the way they were done long ago. Borrow tapes of A Prairie Home Companion at your local library or listen to it live online.
  • On the Web, look for sites that offer contemporary radio drama such as adaptations of novels or short stories as well as original works.


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