Theatre of the Mind – Making The Case for Science Fiction on Radio – An Open Letter to Anyone

“I don’t like to think of what I write as Science Fiction. I prefer to think of it as history that just hasn’t happened yet”.Ben BovaDoes a science fiction program of “any” type have a place in current mainstream radio? Well, this is the subject of todays blog, not only from a perspective of the past including our show ,once on local Clear Channel syndication, now available in limited edition on iTunes, and looking toward the future, not just for our jolly little team of misfits, but looking well past the demise of the Bush Presidency.First, can you make the case for why? Why bother? Why try to convince those who have never heard it or read it or seen it to support it? Man has always looked to their future, sometimes with delight, sometimes with abject fear and sometimes with a sinking feeling in the pits of their collective stomachs. Since before the time of DaVinci and his so called code, the path for Science Fiction has been paved by those best able to put into words the hopes, fears and desires for mankind’s future.As the invention of movable type brought the written word to the masses, as the radio brought the spoken word to the everyman, as Movies and Television brought the visual image to your homes and neighborhoods, a portion of societal communication has been set aside for the star gazers, the seers, the ones who ask the question, what about tomorrow and the day after and the day after that?Those who know, Science Fiction recalls many Golden Ages.The Golden Age of Radio with Captain Midnight.The Golden Age of Pulp Fiction with Analog, Amazing Stories and so many many other magazines to choose from.The Golden Age Of Comic Books with The Spirit, Superman, Capt. Midnight.The Golden Age of the GrandMasters, Asimov, Clarke, Heinlien, Pohl, Vonnegut, Bova, Le Guin, Herbert, Farmer, Bradbury Golden Age of Television with so many series to choose from, Rod Serling, Captain Video, The Outer Limits The X-Files, Alf and on and on.The Movies of Lucas, Spielberg, Cronenberg, Romero, Kubrick, Scott …… name your poisin.But, enough about wht once was……… Here’s our story:About 3 years ago, I was approached by a producer at a local Clear Channel station, to help launch a talk show, 3 hours every Saturday night dealing with science fiction. As persuasive as he was, I was more than a bit apprehensive.First, I hoped that when it tanked, we would still be friends.Second, I was going to a meeting with 2 people I knew, one techno geek friend of mine we added later (Scooter) and one total unknown, an AUTHOR who they wanted as part of the on-air team. 3 freakin hours??? Just what the hell were we gonna talk about for 3 hours? My role was as resident fanboy, having a sponge-like knowledge of the subject, being master of none. Mr.K (one of the old “friends” of mine) was to be the moderator and Jeanne was the so called “expert”. This was never ever gonna work.On our first show, our producer had set up an interview with an author, who, to protect the insolent, I shall not name. I was not familiar with any of his work, and what little I could find of it was totally unimpressive. During the course of the interview, I got upset by something he said (I leave the specifics to your fetid imagination, but it has nothing at all to do with my parentage), and horror of horrors, I politely cut him off, thanked him, and threw us to commercial. By the shocked reaction of everyone else in the studio and booth, I was convinced we were finished. Well, as it turned out, we lasted over a year.The good thing was, as you are building an audience, you have the chance to make mistakes and grow as well. Jeanne and Scooter left for economic and personal reasons, and were replaced by Illustrator X. Over the course of out tenure, we had interviews live with the likes of writer Ben Bova, actress/writer/evil temptress Amber Benson, writer Chris Golden, The head curator of the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame., .Writers, Inventors, Crackpots and Kooks Galore (not to be confused with the Bond Girl). Just as we hit our stride…..Clear Channel, for reasons clouded in the mists, cut us off. As Vonnegut would have said “po-te-weet”So, why does Science Fiction belong on the radio?In 1957, Popular Science had a cover with flying cars and the main article talked about the glorious life in the future and vacations on the moon. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED? Where’s my George Jetson flying car, my robot servants, and my vacation on the moon? Does anyone care? Evidently, yes they do. Now, more than ever, science fiction has made a resurgence into our collective psyche.The TV series Lost, Heroes, The 4400, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, Ghost Whisperer….The Movies: Spiderman, Transformers, Vapid Vixens from Venus, Bladerunner. 1984The resurgence in Comics, Graphic Novels and Literature. Contemporaries Like Ron Goulart, Spider Robinson, Phillip K. Dick, John WhyndamGoogle “science fiction” and you will get over 139,00,000 hits, proving that either geeks are prolific (a very real possibility) or there is a resurgence in this art form; people wanting to hear about it and willing to talk about it. At the same time radio is gaining a new identity. Discounting the micro-surge in both HD-Radio and Satellite Radio, nearly 77% of over the air content is owned by 10 companies. Moving from city to city will show you that the diversity that once was, is no more. Talk radio is either divisive or derogatory, music is homogenous, and Market Identity is rapidly becoming a vestigial organ.Who listens to radio is no longer a real question. The real question is can you find an audience for what you wish to produce. Google says yes we can, and I agree.Who want s to listen to me?STELLA!!!!!!!!!!!!STELLA!!!!!!!!!!!!Dome………signing off

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