The Return of Radio Dramas

Melissa Locker on Gimlet's new podcast, Homecoming, which is using film and television actors such as Oscar Isaac, Catherine Keener, and David Schwimmer, to continue to expand the podcast medium -- by playing to the past:

The so-called golden age of radio ran from the 1920s through the 1940s (basically until the advent of television) and was driven by the popularity of radio dramas. Early soap operas, comedy shows such as Fibber McGee & Molly and the work of Jack Benny, and adventure serials such as Captain Midnight (which you can still listen to thanks to online archives) ran side by side with radio presentations of Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes, and comic-strip adaptations such as Little Orphan Annie and Dick Tracy. Orson Welles’s radio program, The Mercury Theatre on the Air, famously caused a scare with its retelling of The War of the Worlds, said to have sparked panic among many listeners who didn’t know the alien invasion was simply a story. Podcasts, of course, have great potential to reach listeners: Marc Maron’s WTF gets between 5 and 6 million downloads a month, while Serial has reached well over 80 million people since it debuted in 2014, and people are still listening. That reach has made the format popular with producers as well as A-list talent.


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