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Radio drama, National Public Radio, The Series The Episodes. Bradbury on Bradbury Click here to hear his opening remarks about the series.
Bradbury 13 was a half-hour radio drama series, produced by Mike McDonough. Bradbury provided an opening voice-over, and Paul Frees introduced each episode. Bradbury was very pleased with this series – and rightly so, as it features some of the best media adaptations of his work ever produced.
The star of the series was really the sound design. The series won at least three awards: Music was by Greg Hansen, who went to a successful career as a composer and record producer, and Roger Hoffman. McDonough says, “the most fun I have ever had was producing Bradbury Ray gave me total carte blanche on the stories I chose. I read The Martian Chronicles in high school, and loved that period of Ray’s writing, the period of the late s and early s.
I loved those stories. I collected a lot of his anthologies, and just started reading. I chose stories that I felt I could mould into half hour radio dramas, stories that had interesting possibilities for sound.
The series manages to both re-create the feel of classic OTR old-time radioand yet feel fresh and modern, especially when heard in stereo. Yet, surprisingly, McDonough claims not have ever heard any radio drama prior to his making this series: I was always interested in sound, and a friend of mine liked acting, so just for fun we adapted some of his short stories in “audio dramas” and sent him the tapes.
He loved them, and became a sort of mentor, always encouraging me to do more. McDonough’s first efforts were low- or no-budget productions, just for fun – early versions of “Kaleidoscope”, “The Fox and the Forest” and “The Man” – while he was a student at Brigham Young University in Utah. He used acting students and faculty, and “stolen” Bernard Herrman music taken from soundtrack albums. Thanks to his part-time job at the University recording studio, McDonough had access to recording and mixing facilities after hours.
Several years later, he secured a grant from National Public Radio and those early productions were re-made with professional production values. His music was like a living, breathing entity that raised the film to a whole new level. His scores were eerie, yet beautiful at the same time.
He as the master of suspense, and could use an orchestra like on one else. The only film adaptation of Ray’s that was any good was Fahrenheitand of course that was a Herrman score as well. When I decided to do the radio series, I had Herrman’s music going through my head the whole time. The music used in the series – inspired by Herrman, but all of it original – is one of the key factors giving it that film-soundtrack quality.
McDonough assembled a small orchestra together from university students and faculty. The music was recorded and mixed onto track 2-inch tape. A series of themes, bridges, transitions, etc.
In a few cases, as in ‘The Veldt’ and the end of ‘The Ravine’, I asked them to score music just for those episodes. Since we recorded on a multi-track tape recorder, I was able to do several different mixes of each cue, some with just percussion, some with just strings.
This gave me more choices of music cues and let me stretch the music even further. In fact, I could take just the beginning, middle, or end of a piece of music and mix a whole new bumper cue from it. Another distinctive feature of the sound design comes from McDonough’s determination to create all the sound effects from scratch, and not rely on sound effects libraries. I insisted on recording and creating all original sound effects for the show.
Every puff of wind, rocket ship, gun shot, ricochet, door open, was a new and original sound I recorded and manipulated in the studio. McDonough wrote all thirteen scripts himself, typing on a portable Smith Corona typewriter in his laundry room at home, a place where he had solitude and a small window to look at of.
It took three months to develop the scripts. Each had to be twnety-eight minutes and thorty seconds in length, and the aim was to maintain as much of Bradbury’s wording as possible: I kept as much of his word-smithing as possible.
Kaleidoscope by Ray Bradbury | Scary Website
I also had to put a lot of his description into dialogue and sound effects to keep the shows interesting sounding, and not just a book-on-tape. I purposly avoided too much narrartion, and opted for sounds to keep the listener interested in the story and make it a more personal experience.
For instance, the characters calidodcopio ‘A Sound of Thunder’ never describe what the time machine looks like. Instead, I described it with the sounds it makes and let the listener draw a picture of it in his mind.
It makes the experience more intense and personal, like reading a book. McDonough says, “It was an interesting number, and I liked it. At the time thirteen was a common number of of episodes for TV and radio shows, or so I was told. Twelve was too neat and predictable, and Ray Bradbury is not predictable!
The series was a critical success, and has remained a cult favourite. Bradbury day have welcomed more episodes, McDonough says: The big book-on-tape companies don’t like them because the production value is so high that they make their other products sound cheap by comparison. They literally don’t fit in to audio CDs, movies, music, etc. The only way I would ever do them again is for brasbury sheer fun of doing it, not to bradnury money. I now caoidoscopio all the high-end audio gear that there is to do my film sound on Despite their relatively young age twenty-two years at the time of writingepisodes of Bradbury 13 are keenly traded by fans of Old-Time Radio Rzywho more typically exchange material from ss.
This is testimony to the quality of the production, but it is also partly due to the rarety of the episodes. Since their original broadcast, the series has rarely been repeated. Twelve episodes were released on audio cassette by Dove Audio “The Screaming Woman” doesn’t seem to have made it for some reasonbut without the Bradbury 13 designation. Unfortunately, they seem to have gone out of print falidoscopio, but still sometimes turn up as “used” on Amazon.
McDonough is happy that the show has found a niche, but he doesn’t like the idea of poor-quality MP3 copies of the show being in circulation. I want to get rid of ripped-off MP3’s that were made from old cassettes that sounded questionable to begin with. I had to bake the original tapes in the oven for three hours at three hundred and fifty degrees in order to stableize the oxide enough to play them.
But they still sound terriffic.
Kaleidoscope by Ray Bradbury
McDonough owns both the master tapes and the copyright in the recordings, and wants to see them released in full quality, both on CD and on the web – as properly prepared MP3 files.
However, he admits, “I have no marketing skills, and I’m a lousy businessman! I keep hoping someone will come along with a plan and even a bit of start up money to help me get it all going.
Three episodes were produced for release on audio cassette: Clarke story, and the other two were based on Bradbury tales. Whether the experiment was a success or not is a moot point: McDonough’s career has flourished since Bradbury An extensive list of his credits in film and television – including a number of IMAX productions – is shown on this archived version of his website please note that this is NOT a current site, but is a “preserved” version accessed through the Internet Archive.
Sounds of Bradbury Many listeners rate the adaptation of “A Sound of Thunder” as their favourite. Although it suffers from some weakness in some of the acting, it does have some of the best sound design.
And, of course, the dinosaurs look much more convincing on radio than they ever could on TV! To hear a short clip from this episode, click here. For copyright reasons, I am unable to carry any complete episodes of the series on this site. However, to hear Paul Frees’ introductions you can click on the Episodes links below. If Frees’ voice sounds familiar, it’s because he is one of the most popular voice artists of all time, as his credits reveal.
Vic has also posted additional material from McDonough, including an episode of Omni Sound Experience.
Mike McDonough, personal correspondence, August Vix Audio Show and blog, brafbury New Vix Audio Fun site, replaces original blog, http: Dove Audio cassette releases, late s. Mike McDonough with Ray Bradbury. On the table in the background to the right you can see one of his original old blue IBM selectric typewriters he used to write many of his famous stories on.
He gave me a complete tour, including the Godzilla birthday caalidoscopio in the foreground. You can see where he signed this photo “Mike, with gratitude, Ray Bradbury”.
Bryce played the main character. Mike records the part of Young Barton. Morgan White as the mortician, Ruth Hale as Aunt Tildy, and another actress Mike can’t remember her name as the niece.
Cast member at work. Rachael Jacobs preparing to do her part as the little girl in “The Screaming Woman”, with Mike directing. Bradbury 13 Bradbruy drama, National Public Radio, Creation McDonough says, “the most fun I calidosvopio ever had was producing Bradbury