The Allure and Alarm of Audio Dramas


Audio dramas (episodic, acoustic, and scripted performances) are nothing new. They are usually created with narration, team effort, and sound effects.

It’s been effective for decades, and has recently had a modern resurgence. The logic behind audio dramas is fascinating yet understandable to me. I compare them all loosely to The Hero With a Thousand Faces.   

I think of it as adding much more depth to the repetition of any narrative or story template. The first and most impressionable stories people hear are those read to them. These tales in adolescence have a voice or impression to sell it. These are the first tales people can be spoon-fed so they can learn to consume them as they grow. 

The time when action and empathy come into a person’s mind. Audio dramas act as the adult or older alternative, an active medium today getting people through the day.  Keeping our imaginations busy, sanity intact, and allows people to multitask. For those involved in making them, it’s a more difficult but hopefully rewarding experience. 

The golden age of radio went down with the appearance of television and the internet. Audio dramas were still being developed and had their merits. Because the sounds on their own are valid and vicious. Audio drama delivered in different content and quality to a lack of interest for a time.

Presently it’s booming because of podcasting and means of inexpensive sharing. Newer shows could have their time, and older ones could be recycled. Like many forms of media, it’s been created for multiple genres. Fiction that caters to numerous genres and subgenres often surprises those searching for specific results. Or surprising someone with their new obsession. 

The most infamous audio drama was H. G. Wells’s War of the Worlds, narrated by Orson Welles. It had a significant impact because it was told like it was real news. The result was hair-raising despite the actual tense and context. It acted like essential news, startling people with their statement and unintentionally conveying its message. People taking their safety for granted didn’t get a rude awakening, they faced a nightmare.  

Franchises with favorite properties have developed official audio dramas for decades, with the recent resurgence. 

Thanks to applications providing distribution of this content, these dramatizations last. They go all out in getting quality voice actors, sound effects, and writing to top the charts. Relying on their established lore as an outline and moving on the front here. Intended as promotion and profit spinning out all on their own.

Unlike audiobooks, they carry their own identity. They have a difference between novelization and dramatization. Others inspired by their work started audio dramas based on properties or ideas. Not all are well made or get to so many episodes. But the ones of good quality, even if they may remain incomplete, still gather some notoriety, gaining their audiences.

Because its fan made it does feel as if it fits or modifies the original source material.

It’s unauthorized and entertaining going where others want the material to be. It continues certain things in a unique vision and grants the wishes of certain fans. These audio dramas can do what film and television can’t. In the beginning, it was because of time and production constraints. There’s a line they can’t cross, or It needs to translate better on the physical media. But just having something described, filling in the gaps with imagination, does so much more. The effects make it so everyone can know the scenes. 

It’s great for people on the go and entertainment during constant motion.

People in the middle of a work shift can still be immersed without devoting all of their senses. Someone can binge a season or go episodic for relief with the suitable hours. It’s not quite in a bubble instead of the workplace but a coping mechanism.  Before I was hooked on podcasts, I felt constant frustration and inertia at my workplace. 

I was initially listening to music to get through the day, but after a year, it wasn’t as helpful. I tried this medium on a whim, clicking on an audio drama that popped up constantly on my application’s screen. I judged the show before I heard them out, and I got hooked.  I started with one to get through a long shift.  Now I’m pairing something new to listen to with every shift I clock into. No matter how short it may be, I’ll figure out a way to fit as many episodes as possible.

I recommend looking into specific topics to find the proper audio drama or the ones trending wherever you can find audio dramas.