A Classic Collection of Vintage Radio for Halloween

For those of you who want something spooky to listen to versus watch — or if you just want something a bit more abstract horror rather than TV-MA-wow-the-prothetics-team-outdid-themselves than our previous mention, we have something that should cover your whole evening passing out candy to ghosts and goblins coming to your door.

We’ve long touted the wonderful audio resource that is The Big Broadcast, a four-hour collection of vintage radio fiction that’s been broadcasting on DC-area station WAMU every Sunday for decades. They do a great job of curating bona fide classic essentials along with hidden gems… and putting them all into context. Naturally, their broadcasts around holidays are especially good.

Halloween is no exception — and this past Sunday’s episode has some of the all-time greats that you should treat yourself to if you’ve never heard them. They’re also a delight to hear again.

This four-hour collection includes “The House in Cypress Canyon” from Suspense, a tale of terror that sweeps up a husband and wife in a way that mashes together so many ideas in such a fresh way, you won’t believe it was produced in 1946. We don’t want to say much more than that.

Then there’s Quiet Please‘s “The Thing on the Fourble Board,” — one of the all-time greats of audio horror. Don’t worry if you don’t know what a fourble board is. Both it and much more will become clear to you. This is a tale where you can know exactly how it will end and you’ll still get goosebumps when you hear… well, you’ll know it when you hear it.

From the lonely horror to noisy, chittering horror, we get scare maestro Vincent Price starring in “Three Skeleton Key” on Escape as he paints a perfect picture of an isolated lighthouse beset by ravenous rats.

They finish up the broadcast with what may be one of the most famous radio fiction episodes of all time: the 1938 Mercury Theatre production of “War of the Worlds” starring Orson Welles.

If that’s not enough, you can also listen to our modern, DC-specific version of “War of the Worlds” produced back in 2018, but don’t delay on this particular episode of The Big Broadcast. They’ll only keep the archive copy up for a few weeks.

Happy Halloween, listeners!

Broadcast Unfriendly, but Very Poe: The Fall of the House of Usher

What with it being Halloween today, we’re thinking about all things spooky, so we wanted to to share some of the things we’ve been watching and listening to this season in the Tulgey Wood.

Given how many stories by the O.G. (original ghoulish) writer Edgar Allan Poe we’ve done for our series Through a Glass, Darkly, we decided to check out the new mini-series The Fall of the House of Usher on Netflix.

Hold onto your cask of Amontillado, it was a lot.

It’s definitely not a version you’ll hear us do… or really anything on broadcast radio, but knowing that many of you enjoy some of the horror audio fiction that is similarly not safe on the radio, we share this. And the mini-series, which weaves together a whole host of Poe’s writings into a topical story of a perfectly horrid family that has parallels to the Sacklers and their painkiller empire. Of course, in Poe’s gothic hands, this family has many skeletons in their closet and bricked up behind walls. It’s just TV-MA with all the trimmings.

Really, we can’t understate how “TV-MA” the series is. They almost certainly had a sizeable special effects makeup team and all of them are doubtless exhausted from their extensive labors. Some of the characters’ dialogue isn’t so much sprinkled with profanity as soaking in it. And language isn’t the only vulgar thing. Still, fans of Mark Hamill taking another turn as a villain will be rewarded.

Now, if you’re not up for something grotesque, or if you simply want to refresh your knowledge of Poe, you can check out our dramatic readings of “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Black Cat,” “The Raven,” and “The Masque of the Red Death.” Frankly, many of these are disturbing and grotesque just in their original 19th century form… and animal lovers may want to steer clear of “The Black Cat,” but at least you will be responsible for the visuals as opposed to what will likely be a soon-to-be award-winning production team.

Stay spooky, dear listeners!

Real Secret Societies You May Not Know

What with the casting going on for our show Quorum, we have secret societies on our mind, but what about the actual ones?

As Jackie Mansky writes for Smithsonian magazine, actual secret societies are often centered around good causes (certainly as far as the members are concerned). Not only that, but these days, they’re not too secret. Indeed, their existence is often in plain sight even if their purposes might seem mysterious.

Yeah, a traditional secret society in Quorum would totally be a front organization designed to throw people off track.

Or is that what we want you to believe?

When Did Those American Colonists Stop Sounding Like Brits?

A lot of us here in Deepest Springfield are obsessed with accents. How do we do a good Scouse accent so no one will think it’s Geordie? But with that obsession is also learning about the history of accents and how things shift.

So we’re doing some research for some scripts that raise the question “when did American colonists lose their British accent?”

Damn Yanks and their “audio theaters!”

Well, Matt Soniak over at Mental Floss has some answers. Granted, it’s not exhaustive like a linguistic tome, but it is informative.

Raise the Fungal Radiation Shields!

We’d heard about species of radiation-loving fungus in relation to Chernobyl in the past, but this article by Stephen Johnson in Big Think explains how they’ve been testing it on the International Space Station.

Specifically, they’ve been testing it with the idea that some form of this radiotrophic fungus could help shield astronauts bound for Mars. Exciting news.

And, as we’ve put real-universe science into Rogue Tyger, we’ll almost certainly have some mention of the “radiotrophic fungal layer” in the ship’s shielding in some future episode.

Because science is cool.