How will the Current Strikes Impact Audio Fiction?

Depending on how closely you follow the news, you may know that both the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) are on strike for better pay and working conditions.

For Jabberwocky Audio Theater, you’ve heard members of SAG-AFTRA in just about all of our productions and, if all goes well, you will continue to do so. That’s because SAG-AFTRA is striking with the big studios (represented by an industry group known as AMPTP). For many indie producers who agree to SAG-AFTRA’s terms (the terms SAG-AFTRA would like the big studios to agree to), they can move ahead.

SAG-AFTRA has been offering a series of low-budget agreements to work with indie and student filmmakers for over a decade. In that vein, they’ve also recently created a series of low-budget agreements for podcasts — and the next Jabberwocky production will be under one of those agreements.

We’re hoping for a resolution to the strikes soon.

Stitcher is Shutting Down on August 29th

Based on what data we have, a non-trivial number of you listen to one or more of our podfeeds via Stitcher.


Just in case you had not heard, Stitcher will be shutting down at the end of this month, on August 29th, 2023. They have created a Farewell FAQ to answer your questions.

If you subscribe to us via Stitcher, you can still follow any three of our podfeeds: Quorum, Rogue Tyger, and our all-you-can-hear audio buffet that collects all our shows, Jabberwocky Audio Theater.

The Wild (and possibly Sheb Wooley) Origins of the Wilhelm Scream

Based on the news we read this weekend, there was absolutely no reason we were not going to share the glorious discovery of the original recording session that gave the work The Wilhelm Scream.

You can learn a great background of the Wilhelm Scream on Mental Floss from 2018, recently updated with this latest news. Jim Vorel has a good article on the news for Paste, an article also referenced by Luke Plunkett for Kotaku (which also has a video game compilation of Wilhelm Screams)

Bjorn Munson loves this sound effect. If, for some reason, it wasn’t already fixed in the tapestry of movie geekery, he has stated that he would still find ways to use it in his productions. It’s plaintive yet comical. Even though it wasn’t created for a 50s monster movie, it somehow encompasses every hapless monster victim. You can almost hear them swear to the main characters, “I’ll be fine watching the strange obelisk with this here faulty flashlight that will cut out at the wrong moment. Don’t worry. I’m definitely not about to be stung/eviscerated/devoured by an ancient evil/incomprehensible alien/radioactive monstronsity. Nosiree!”

Give it a listen. You’ve heard it before, but here’s a compilation. The scream is a thing of beauty:

One of the lovely aspects of it being called the “Wilhelm Scream” is the eponymous Private Wilhelm is not the first victim nor in the first movie to use the scream. That honor goes to Distant Drums. However, once you see the clip from the later The Charge at Feather River, Private Wilhelm and his strange prioritization of pipe maintenance is just a wonderful version.

The big news is the full, 39 seconds of the recording session where they did six takes of the scream and you hear some of the direction. Because this is the sort of additional recording you do all the time in sessions (we do it all the time with Jabberwocky Audio Theater), they don’t have solid notes on who was the screamer now immortalized across all sorts of media. The current thought is that it’s character actor and singer Sheb Wooley, which feels appropriate. I mean, someone attacked by the giant Purple People Eater would surely cry out with a Wilhelm Scream while being eaten.

Speaking of Jabberwocky Audio, avid listeners will note that we’ve used the Wilhelm Scream in each of the two seasons of Rogue Tyger. It works great mixed in with the sound design for fight sequences. And yes, it will be featured in season three later this year. Bjorn vows to make sure it makes it into every season… because the spirit of Wilhelm must live on (even as the victims perish).

Dim the Lights for The Dark Knight

This far removed from the era of vintage radio fiction, you don’t hear about voice actors being “the definitive actor” to play a character as much these days.

But the sad news of the passing of Kevin Conroy, longtime voice of Batman across multiple animated series and video games reminds us that for so many, he is the definitive Batman (and Bruce Wayne).

You can read some remembrances at NPR and the New York Times… and, in a fun homage, Gizmodo featured a collection of favorite Batman moments voiced by Conroy.

For all his friends, family, and fans, may his memory be a blessing.

Netflix Looks into Podcasts

On some online forums, fellow podcasters have been discussing how there appear to be more movers and shakers investing time and attention –and almost certainly money– into podcasts.

N’Jeri Eaton (photo via Netflix)

Well, no sooner than that came up than we saw this article in Bloomberg about how N’Jeri Eaton, former executive with a serious storyteller hat at Apple and NPR is now taking her storytelling skill to Netflix.

Now from the article it sounds like the initial push is to create companion podcasts for some of their existing TV and film projects, but Netflix has been creating new shows with reckless abandon for some time, so we’ll certainly be checking out if they venture into the fiction podcast realm.

The Hear Now Festival: Celebrating Audio Fiction

Our move to make more events virtual these days thanks to the pandemic, making them easier to attend, also means it’s easier to forget to attend them.

So, for that reason, we wanted to make sure you knew about one of the events we almost missed: the Hear Now Festival, an annual celebration of audio fiction put on by folks over at NATF (National Audio Theatre Festivals, Inc.).

We missed some of the events last weekend, but luckily for us –and possibly for you– there’s a few sessions that are available to re-listen to, including a great hour-long intro to Norman Corwin, a true master of audio fiction as well as a panel on making modern audio fiction with Fred Greenleigh and many others.

As we’ve mentioned many times artistic director Bjorn Munson grew up listening to vintage radio fiction — one of the reasons there is a Jabberwocky Audio Theater. We’re glad events like this exist and hope to attend some individually or as a troupe in the future.

The Cicadas are Coming! The Cicadas are Coming!

We mentioned last month that Brood X, the prodigious cohort of cicadas that emerge every 17 years to mate and be quite loud about it, are coming this year — possibly near you!

Now, if you’re recording audio like us, this just might impact your production schedule… and maybe you want to record them on purpose.

For those of you who want more of the science behind it all, here’s Mike Raupp, the “Bug Guy” and avowed cicada fan to give you all the details you didn’t know you needed.

(Some) American Podcasters: Prepare for Brood X!

We’re slowly recording our second season of Quorum using COVID precautions, which is stretching out our recording sessions into May, which led producer Bjorn Munson to realize we might need to content with Brood X aka the Seventeen-Year Cicada.

The constant hum is unmistakable.

You can check out this article written by Keith Matheny and Georgea Kovanis of the Detroit Free Press for more details.

Basically from roughly mid-May and for the following month or so, billions upon billions of these grape leaf-sized bugs will emerge and mate. Perhaps because of this single-minded obsession, they will ignore all ideas of social distancing. Now, they don’t have any stingers and are not poisonous, so despite their red-eyed appearance making them look like extras in an insect-themed eco-disaster movie, they’re harmless. If you have a dog, they’ll likely like the snacking options as you go on your walks.

But it’s the mating calls of billions of cicadas which is why we thought it’d be good for some of you audio producers to prepare. Because there’s sound-proofing and sound-prooding, and for those of you who don’t have a nice hermetically-sealed whisper room, you might want to plan your recordings accordingly!

Back to the Future with Audio Theater

The New York Times did a piece this past weekend about all sorts of old radio theater you can listen to on the Interwebs for free.

Old Time Radio aka Vintage Radio is, of course, one of the inspirations for Jabberwocky Audio Theater (along with Mind’s Eye productions and some others). So if you like old time radio, you should definitely check out what we suggested they check out: The Big Broadcast every Sunday from 7-11pm ET on WAMU 88.5 FM (luckily, they keep their shows archived for about four weeks so you can check things out).

And if you want to tell the Times that there’s a bunch of wonderful contemporary audio theater, hey, that’s good too.