When COVID-19 forced us all into our homes early in 2020, radio drama was one of those things that could keep us entertained. But what about new performances? Could they be done? The Generic Radio Workshop reached out to some of the folks who have contacted us in recent years to discuss how performances could be moved online with videoconferencing.

The result was Project Audion, a collaboration of Radio Theatre companies and interested individuals who have come together to record live classic audio theatre online in realtime.

Every month we release a new Project Audion episode, recorded a few nights earlier in the authentic style complete with live sound effects. Below are our completed shows to date. Whether you watch or just listen, we hope you enjoy these fresh recreations of classic old time radio shows.
  

Episode 22: Bob and Ray

Not too many stars from the OTR era have also hosted Saturday Night Live and a Broadway show, but comic geniuses Bob & Ray did it - and so Project Audion salutes them with a recreation of the offbeat, deadpan humor that aired on radio networks across the country for years starting in the early 1950s.

John Bell in Alabama, and Pete Lutz in Texas take on the many characters created by Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding in an assemblage of sketches - both familiar and obscure - intended to recapture the kind of free flowing absurdity they did so well.

Larry Groebe is there as well, handling the production aspects from Dallas.

Episode 21: Sherlock Holmes "Murder in the Casbah"

Sherlock Holmes is such an iconic figure, and so well suited for radio, that the detective was on the air for over 20 years (starting in 1930) and portrayed by a half dozen actors. None were better than Nigel Bruce and Basil Rathbone, who owned the roles from 1939-1946. Project Audion recreates an episode from December 3, 1945 entitled "Murder in the Casbah" which was sponsored by Petri Wine. Audion's transcribed-live edition features a cast of voice actors performing from England, Hollywood, and multiple locations in between.

Holmes: David Ault, UK
Watson: Paul Arbisi, IL
Announcer: Lec Zorn, IN
Miss Tretfield: M J Cogburn, TX
Col. de Brisson: Trevor Rines, CA
Rafi: Jacob Palka, IL
Leaming/Commissioner: Joe Mendell, UK
Ayisha: Grace Wagner, IL
Milton: John Mauldin, TN
Waiter/ Dr. Porter: Robert Mills, CA
...and produced and directed by Larry Groebe in Texas

Episode 20: Jack Benny "Jack visits the DMV"

Project Audion's latest episode is a recreation of a Jack Benny show you've never heard before - because it was written just for Audion by Bob Hope staff writer Robert L. Mills. Robert learned the comedy craft by listening to Benny's shows as a boy, and his script - "Jack Visits the DMV"  - has the classic setups and style that made the original Benny shows so funny. It's like a whole new episode from 1950! Thanks to our talented transcontinental cast and crew, it sounds like a vintage episode too, with terrific voices stepping into the shoes of the original Jack Benny players --

Jack Benny: Geoffrey Mark, CA
Don Wilson: Ken Jeffries, CA
Rochester: Lee J. Greene, NE
Dennis Day/Frank Nelson: Bob Beaumont, CA
Mary Livingstone/Bus Guide: Denise Cline, KY
Phil Harris: Norman Cline, KY
Ed the Vault Guard: Harry Middlebrooks, CA
Mr Kitzel/Racetrack Tout: Duane Noch, NJ
Butler & Cop: Stanley Dyrector, CA
Stu: Robert L. Mills, CA

...with Ken Raney handling sound effects and the production managed by Larry Groebe.

Episode 19: On Stage "Interlude"

Project Audion's new recreation is a lost episode of "On Stage". No recordings exist of this OTR drama from July 1954, so Patte Rosebank in Canada and Tim Burns in Kansas are stepping into the roles that Cathy and Elliott Lewis played on the original broadcast, assisted by Trever Rines in Canda with music and FX from Larry Groebe in Texas.

"On Stage" was an anthology series created by (and for) the Lewises, who had appeared on so many radio shows they became known as "Mr. and Mrs Radio." In this episode, "Interlude" two lost and lonely adults who find each other one in a bar one night, and find the paths of their lives changed. This Audion recreation was directed by Patte Rosebank and produced by Larry Groebe.

Episode 18: Suspense "Pearls are a Nuisance"

Project Audion's 2nd season begins like our first season, with an episode of the classic radio drama "Suspense." "Pearls are a Nuisance" is a satirical detective drama based on a story by Raymond Chandler which in 1950 starred Ray Milland. Walter Gage is trying to track down some stolen pearls, and must call upon a gentleman of dubious morals to help him. Our transcribed-live drama includes voice actors from California all the way to England:

Joe Mendell (UK) - Announcer
Pete Lutz (TX) - Harlow Wilcox, Henry
Doug Fain (TX) - Walter
Rhiannon McAfee (CA) - Ellen
Angela Young (FL) - Dora, Teller
Greg McAfee (CA) - Mr. Gallemore, Voice
Dana Gonsalves (TX) - Manager, Scandesi
Mr. Lutz directed, while Larry Groebe handled production and sound

Episode 17: Fibber McGee and Molly "Fibber's Missing Tux"

This Project Audion episode offers the national premiere of a NEW Fibber McGee and Molly episode, especially written by Robert L. Mills, former staff writer for comedy legend Bob Hope. Mills' script recreates the style, laughs, and charm of classic Fibber & Molly radio shows. "Fibber's Missing Tux" literally brings the couple out of retirement to be honored for their years on the airwaves. As a bonus, before our recreation, we interview Robert L. Mills himself in his Hollywood home, talking about writing comedy, his days with Hope, and the Old Time Radio era. It's an OTR fan's dream, and our dream cast includes:

Fibber McGee: John Bell (Alabama)
Molly McGee: Jan Welch (North Carolina)
Teeny: Carolyn Threlkeld (Kentucky)
Doc Gamble: Ken Raney (Texas)
Old Timer: Harry Middlebrooks (California)
Wally Wimple: Duane Noch (New Jersey)
Harlow Wilcox: Chris Hart (Florida)
Production, direction, and sound by Larry Groebe (Texas)

Episode 16: Dimension X "Requiem"

Project Audion's latest production recreates a vintage episode of "Destination X" called "Requiem", an adaptation of a short story by science fiction master Robert Heinlein. In our 21st-century world, when it's been over 50 years since we first set foot on the moon, it's fascinating to revisit a time when we had yet to even send a man into space. What dreams might drive a man to reach the moon and the stars? Dimension X gave us answers in this episode from September 1951. Our North American cast includes:

Bob Beaumont in California
Marty Bufalini in Michigan
Larry Groebe in Texas
Lesley Marberry in Tennessee
John Mauldin in Tennessee
Brad Oxnam in Tennessee
Jacob Palka in Illinois
Rachel Pulliam in Missouri

Sound Effects were by Ken Rainey in Texas, and John Mauldin directed.

Episode 15: The Life of Riley "The Rileys' First Date"

A love story for Valentine's Day that originally aired during Thanksgiving, Project Audion's recreation of the classic radio (later TV) situation comedy "The Life of Riley" presents the charming 1950 episode "The Rileys' First Date" - complete with recreated laugh track. Directed by Tom Wilkens, and starring a truly transcontinental cast:

Bob Beaumont, California
Duane Noch, Oregon
Patte Rosebank, Toronto
Jack Ward, Nova Scotia
John Mauldin, Tennessee
Fern & Barry Katz, Florida
Ken Raney, Texas
Tom Wilkens, Illinois
Trevor Rines, Canada

The laugh track was developed by Dick Huitema in Florida, and the production was under the supervision of Larry Groebe in Texas..

Episode 14: Quiet Please "Rain on New Year's Eve"

Project Audion presents a recreation of the classic OTR Quiet Please episode titled "Rain on New Year's Eve." It's a small, spooky story about movies, monsters, and midnight, written by Wyllis Cooper, master of radio macabre which originally aired December 31, 1947.

For this transcribed-live national recreation, Pete Lutz in Corpus Christi Texas directs and appears in the show, along with Dana Gonsalves, Jessica Mathews, and Marty Bufalini from WWJ radio in Detroit. Larry Groebe created the organ links and handled production elements.

Episode 13: "The Plot to Overthrow Christmas"

"Did you hear about the plot to overthrow Christmas?
Well, gather ye now from Maine to the Isthmus
of Panama, and listen to the story of the utter inglory
of some gory goings-on in hell.
It happened down there that the fiends held a meeting
for the purpose of defeating
Christmas. With the aid of a fade, a fade on the radio,
we'll take you there with a hi and hey-di-ho!"

Project Audion has lovingly recreated Norman Corwin's charming 1938 radio fantasy using some of our best cross-country vocal talent performing live, augmented by a few visual effects. Our sterling cast cast includes Doug Fain, Dana Gonsalves, Les Marsden, Sally Martinez, Chris Messersmith, Duane Noch, Brad Oxnam, Patte Rosebank, and Lothar Tuppan, with Larry Groebe directing.

Episode 12: "We Know a Poe Story"

Scary days, these. To suite the times, Project Audion episode offers three stories you know, from an old radio series that you don't. Edgar Allan Poe stories "The Tell-Tale Heart", "The Purloined Letter", and "The Fall of the House of Usher" were adapted into taut, streamlined 15-minute editions for a lost mid-century syndicated radio series: "We Know a Poe Story."

Project Audion's live-transcribed Zoom-based recreation of "We Know a Poe Story" draws on voices from across the country...this time including Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Texas, and Florida.

Our cast included Arrianna Abraham, Paul Arbisi, Dan Keenan, Duane Noch, Jacob Palka, Ken Raney, Kim Titus, Tom Wilkens, Lec Zorn, and Larry Groebe.

Episode 11: "The Mercury Theatre On The Air"

Project Audion's live-transcribed cross-continental Zoom-based production for October is an episode from Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre on the Air from 1938. No, not the "War of the Worlds" which everyone knows, but "Around the World in 80 Days" which aired the week before. Welles, John Houseman, and Howard Koch condensed Jules Verne's 1872 novel into a fast-paced 60 minutes, and fewer than 20 characters (which we handle by doubling each actor's part.) Phileas Fogg's journey started October 2, 1872 at about 9 PM: Project Audion's recreation premieres exactly 148 years later!

In our sterling cast:
Paul Arbisi / Illinois
John Bell / Alabama
Norman Cline / Kentucky
Aileen Corpos / Texas
Dana Gonsalves / Texas
Larry Groebe / Texas
Pete Lutz / Texas
Les Marsden / California
Pete Lutz directed, and Larry Groebe produced

Episode 10: "X Minus One"

Project Audion's 10th episode recreates one the best episodes from the award-winning 1950s science fiction series "X Minus One" using a cross-country Zoom conference and a cast of both Audion veterans and first-timers. In "The Tunnel Under the World," based on a story by Frederick Pohl, a man was up on June 15th with a strange feeling of deja-vu. His suspicions turn out to be justified when he eventually discovers his whole world is not would it seems to be...

Announcer: Trevor Rines in Canada
Narrator: Kim Titus in Texas
Guy Burkhardt: Lothar Tuppan in California
Mary Burkhardt: Rachel Pulliam in Missouri
Henry Swanson: Duane Noch in New Jersey
Dorchin: John Bell in Alabama
April Horn: M J Cogburn in Texas
with sound effects by Key Raney in Texas, and production and direction by Larry Groebe

Episode 9: "Lights Out"

Project Audion premieres our recreation of the classic supernatural radio show "Lights Out" - a 1943 episode entitled "Little Old Lady." It's a ghostly story written and directed by the master of spooky stories, Arch Oboler. It's a tale truly made for radio, where you close your eyes and let your imagination run wild.

Except this time, keep your eyes open and watch the voice actors do their stuff. Our transcontinental cast, hooked together via Zoom, includes Angela Young; Kristin James; Denise Cline; Brad Oxnam; Larry Groebe; and John Mauldin of the Inexplicable Dumb Show in Tennessee. We hope you'll listen in...with the lights out!

Episode 8: "The Lineup"

Project Audion’s newest cross-country OTR recreation is an episode of the police drama "The Lineup" which hasn't been heard since it was originally broadcast in January 1952. The Lineup was added to the CBS radio schedule after Dragnet became a massive hit, and ran for four years on radio, plus six years on television and a 1958 movie. The lead cop role (which was portrayed in 1952 by Bill Johnstone, who was a former "Shadow" and “Whistler”) is here played by Ed Dennis, an actual law enforcement officer for four decades. He even used his own handcuffs in the show's final scene.

Our full cast:
Ed Dennis / Illinois
Dan Keenan / Colorado
Chris Marcellus / Utah
Angela Young / Florida
John Bell / Alabama
Barry Katz / Florida
Kim Titus / Texas
Denny Thompson / Colorado
Tom Wilkins / Illinois

Ken Raney did SFX from Texas, Denny Thompson directed, and Larry Groebe produced the show.

Episode 7: "Screen Guild / The Ox-Bow Incident"

Project Audion presents our recreation of an episode of Screen Guild Theatre, AKA Hollywood Soundstage. "The Ox-Bow Incident" was a best-selling book in 1940, a blockbuster Western movie in 1943, and adapted for the Screen Guild Theatre radio show no less than three times. Our version is from 1952. It's a story of vengeance and violence -- a gritty look at a group of men who turned into a mob. The "Ox-Bow Incident" was directed by Pete Lutz / Corpus Christi, Texas and produced by Larry Groebe / Grapevine, Texas, and used a coast-to-coast cast of a 14 people situated from Nova Scotia to San Francisco:

Paul Arbisi / Peoria, Illinois
John Bell / Alabaster, Alabama
Denise Cline / Nicholasville, Kentucky
Norman Cline / Nicholasville, Kentucky
Dana Gonsalves / Corpus Christi, Texas
John Mauldin / Nashville, Tennessee
Chris Messersmith / Dallas Texas
Ken Raney / Arlington, Texas
Carl Thomas / Rockport, Texas
Lothar Tuppan / San Francisco, California
Jack Ward / Halifax, Nova Scotia
Angela Young / Palm Coast, Florida.

Episode 6: "On Stage / A Month of Sundays"

In this Project Audion broadcast, we recreate a lost 1953 episode of "On Stage" originally produced by and starring the husband and wife team of Cathy and Elliott Lewis. "On Stage" was an anthology with an emphasis on the relationships between men and women, allowing for everything from drama to comedy to romance. It may not be familiar to many people, but "On Stage" is well worth listening to. This episode, "A Month of Sundays," originally aired in August 1953 but no recording survives.

Patte Rosebank plays the Cathy Lewis role from in Toronto Canada. She also directed.
Tim Burns plays Elliott Lewis' part from Salina Kansas.
Denise Cline, in Kentucky, is heard as Mrs. Marlin.
Trevor Rines announced the show from Toronto.
Ken Raney handled the live Sound Effects from Arlington Texas.
Larry Groebe produced the show from Grapevine Texas.

Episode 5: "My Favorite Husband / Baby Booties"

Project Audion presents a recreation of the classic Lucille Ball sitcom "My Favorite Husband" with an episode from September 24, 1948. If you're not familiar with the show, it's the direct ancestor to "I Love Lucy," with many of the same situations and comedy - and when you're talking about Lucy, how much more do you need to say?

"My Favorite Husband" was about "two people who live together and like it!" , and we feature THREE real-life couples sharing mikes from different locations in the US -- Denise & Norman Cline, Jannette & Ed Dennis, and Fern & Barry Katz, supported by Larry Groebe, Ken Raney, and John Mauldin.

Episode 4: "Gunsmoke / The Guitar"

Project Audion presents a recreation of the vintage radio show Gunsmoke. Gunsmoke, one of the classic "adult Westerns", had a ten-year run on radio and an astounding 20+ years on television.  This early episode, "The Guitar", originally aired December 26, 1953 and was later remade on both the television and radio series. A simple man with an unexpected talent is taunted by town bullies, with tragic results. 

Project Audion is a collaboration of radio theatre actors from across North America recording OTR shows live via Zoom. This Audion episode features the talents of Dennis Thompson in Colorado, Doug Fain in Kentucky, Paul Arbisi in Illinois, Dan Keenan in Colorado, Norman Cline in Kentucky, Pete Lutz in Texas, Denise Cline in Kentucky, Dick Huitema in Florida, Tim Burns in Kansas, Darren Rockhold in Illinois, and Larry Groebe in Texas. Doug Fain directed and Larry Groebe produced it.

Episode 3: Columbia Workshop 1937, "RUR"

Transcribed live from California,  Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennesee, and Texas... Project Audion presents a recreation of the 1937 Columbia Workshop broadcast of "R.U.R: Rossum's Universal Robots." Pete Lutz of Narada Radio Players, director of this radio drama, says this about his choice of show:

"I love the historical sense of the story. Here's Carel Kapek, in 1920 or 21, foreseeing AI, prophesying humans' dependence on technology. Of course, robots themselves, thank the gods, haven't been perfected to the same extent. But there are so many wonderful elements in the story: all the men on the island are in love with Helena, and this unrequited love felt by Dr. Gall leads to their downfall. The robots evolve in different ways, though: some become murderous, yet two show more humane tendencies: love, compassion, sacrifice. I first heard the BBC's radio adaptation of this, which was about two hours long. Then I found the script we use here and felt that the main points of the story were covered sufficiently in a half-hour. It's exciting, dramatic, and sentimental. Columbia Workshop had geniuses working for them."

Crossing four timezones, the large cast includes Kristen James, Larry Groebe, Brad Oxnam, Norman L. Cline, Denny Thompson, Rev'rund Petey Lutz, Dan Keenan, John Mauldin, Aileen Corpos, Paul Arbisi, Dick Huitema, Doug Fain, and Tom Wilkens.

Episode 2: "Arch Oboler's Plays - Special to Hollywood"

Voice actors from Canada, Illinois, Kansas, Florida, and Texas perform live together in a recreation of a classic Arch Oboler radio drama from 1945. 

This play is timeless and terrifyingly timely, with its story of Hollywood elites completely out of touch with the suffering of ordinary people. Arch Oboler wrote it in 1941, after he and his wife attended a dinner party at the home of a Hollywood bigwig, along with other bigwigs.  The after-dinner conversation was about World War II, which was devastating the world, but the bigwigs only cared about how it was affecting their own bottom-lines.  Outraged at their complete indifference to the suffering of millions of people, Oboler went home and wrote "Special to Hollywood". It was produced three times. The cast included  Larry Jurrist in Hollywood Florida, Patte Rosebank in Toronto Canada, Trevor Rines also in Toronto, and Tim Burns in Salina Kansas.

Episode 1: "Backstage Wife" and "Suspense"

Six different radio theatre companies from across North America come together to perform vintage radio dramas via videoconference. In this edition, episodes of the mystery show "Suspense" and the soap opera "Mary Noble, Backstage Wife" are performed in the old style with live actors and sound effects, simultaneously from  different cities across North America. In the cast:

Patte Rosebank / Toronto Radio Theatre, Toronto Canada
Larry Groebe / Generic Radio Workshop, Dallas Texas
Doug Fain / KCAL Old Time Radio Troupe, Nicholasville Kentucky
Denny Thompson / Advent Radio Players, Westminster Colorado
Dick Huitema / Seniors Acting Up, Fort Lauderdale Florida
Pete Lutz / Narada Radio Company, Corpus Christi Texas