How To Scare Your Listener

It’s episode 99, it’s Halloween, and it’s time to talk about terrifying your audience.

Featuring an all star panel of Audio Dramatists from around the world. In order of appearance, Tanja Milojevic (LightnighBolt Theater of the Mind), Kc Wayland (We’re Alive), Chris Jarvis (Radio Theatre Workshop), Scott Hickey (The Grist Mill), Domien de Groot (Audio Epics), Vienna Jetschko (Vienna Jetschko Podcast), Marc Sollinger (Archive 81), Rich Wentworth (Hadron Gospel Hour), Jon Grilz (Small Town Horror), Lindsay Harris-Friel (Jarnsaxa Rising), Zachary Fortais-Gomm (The Orphans), Danilo Battistini (Contador de Historia), Owen McCuen (Voice Actor), Daniel Edenfield (The Night Keep), and John Ballentine (Campfire Radio Theater).

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Running Audio Drama Workshops

On this episode we’re joined by Zoe and Leon from WordPlay. I’ve been keen to get them on the show for a while to talk about the audio drama workshops they’ve been running in schools, bookshops, and community centres. They have their own podcast too so be sure to listen and subscribe!

“We run radio drama making workshops for children and adults across the UK. Take up the WordPlay challenge and script a short radio drama, perform it in our pop-up studio and broadcast it LIVE on air with all the sound effects to go with it! We also offer training to everyone and anyone who wants to delve into the world of podcasting, and run courses for children who want to learn the ins and outs of presenting & producing their own talk radio show, concluding with a live broadcasting party!”

Elsewhere on the show, The Cleansed and Radio Drama Revival join the Wondery podcast network, along with the legendary Tom Lopez (who was recently featured by NPR)

The Audio Drama Network is almost up and running, and it needs volunteers – please email me at if you’re interested in finding out more.

And my Audacity Podcast Production video course (in association with The Podcast Host) is now available. I’d love it if you checked it out, and if you click and buy through the link here I’ll earn a small commission too!


Making an Audio Drama Sitcom | Wooden Overcoats

Wooden Overcoats – a story of two rival funeral directors on a small fictional island – is a Audio Drama series that ticks all the boxes. Brilliantly written, with a talented cast, and first class studio quality sound, this show sets the bar very high. It obviously took a lot of knowledge and expertise to put Wooden Overcoats together, and on this episode we’re able to pull back the curtain and learn from two of the show’s creators, Head Writer David K. Barnes, and Director/Producer John Wakefield.

There’s more material about the making of Wooden Overcoats out there for you to enjoy too. Check out How to Write a Sitcom by David K. Barnes, and Andy Goddard’s Making Radio Drama for Less.

And, as if that wasn’t enough first class material for one week, friend of the show Fred Greenhalgh has released a free eBook called Field Recording for Audio Drama: A Filmmaker’s Guide. Be sure to check out Fred’s post-apocalyptic epic The Cleansed too, if you haven’t already.

A big thanks too, to our most recent inductees of The Knights of the PledgeEd Champion, and EC Bond.

Want to get in touch with the show? Splendid. Write to us at

What Can We Learn From Film Sound?

Some of the most famous and classic examples of sound being used to tell stories come from the world of cinema. On this episode we’re joined by Dr Kenny McAlpine of Abertay University as we take a look at what we can learn from film sound.

The main focus of this discussion is to define some specific terms that are common in connecting emotionally with the subconscious of the viewer – and to think about how we use this techniques for a listening, rather than watching audience.

We’re going to look at empathetic and anempathetic sound. Does the soundtrack serve to support the tone of the scene, or contrast it?

We’ll also look at diegetic and non-diegetic music. Is the music in your story part of the story world, or exclusively for the listener? Why might you choose one over the other, and does it matter?

And if you want to delve deeper in to this subject, I recommend a book called Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen by Michael Chion.

With thanks to Boyd Barrett of Roswell BC for creating the intro to this week’s show.

As always, we welcome your feedback, thoughts, contributions, and general abuse. Send it all to us at

Making Sound Effects, Building Soundscapes

Sound effects and soundscapes are an integral part of your Audio Drama, and often the best way to get your hands on that perfect sound you envisaged when you wrote the show is to go ahead and make it yourself.

John Ballentine of Campfire Radio Theater is this episode’s guest contributor, and he’ll be offering up some hints and tips on how to create anything, from a gun clicking, to the sound of the world burning under an apocalyptic Martian invasion.

There’s also a brief segment afterwards covering some of our own sound effects, which are all available for you to use on the Freesound website.

And if this is a subject that floats your boat, check out our interview with SFX Guru Ric Viers – as well as his aptly named book The Sound Effects Bible. We also highly recommend another book in this field too, The Foley Grail by Vanessa Theme Ament.

Made some sound effects yourself using unlikely household items? Send them in with some details about how you went about it and we might play them on the show –

With thanks to Avi Ziv from Stories of Mahabharata for the intro!

How Do You Make a 3D Binaural Audio Drama?

It’s hard not to get excited by the thought of listening to Audio Drama in 3D. Though binaural audio isn’t a new thing, it’s still relatively rare to encounter unless you are actively searching for it online. Many people’s first (and often only) experience with this form of sound design comes from sitting in the chair of the binaural barber shop – stick your headphones on and have a listen if you’ve never heard this one before.

Scottish-based Canadian producer Michel Lafrance (The Owl Field) has learned and mastered the techniques of building soundscapes in this manner, and he’s using them to create first person 3D Audio Dramas which drop you right into the middle of them as the main character.

Michel is also developing a business model around his productions, and has ambitious plans to grow the company in the future. Aside from delving into how you actually make binaural audio, we also chat about his reasons behind charging for the shows (all expect Overnight, which is free).

The Owl Field have also been nominated for a FutureBook Award, and we discuss what that could mean for both Michel, and the medium as a whole.

Elsewhere in Audio Drama, there’s a superb album of creepy scores released by composer Kevin Hartnell to help support future Campfire Radio Theater productions, it’s aptly titled The Sounds of Nightmares. An outstanding collaboration took place between many familiar names in the medium as 11th Hour Audio Productions released Vultures Over Low Doves. And there’s new Audio Drama in the form of Cthulhu’s Rim, and The Fall.

This episode was introduced by It’s About Time – The Time Travel Audio Drama

Setting Dialogue Volume Levels, & Roomtone

How to blend in your dialogue and set consistent volume levels

One of the toughest challenges when you begin producing Audio Drama is looking at ways to bring in multiple pieces of dialogue, recorded by different actors, on different mics, in different conditions, and set them to play at a consistent volume level. Dialogue tracks recorded on the quiet side will often need to be amplified considerably, and this can bring up a lot of background noise that makes these segments blocks of hiss. Dialogue_Levels

In this episode we talk about the sound levels of your dialogue, touching on the decibel scale, which you and your DAW will use to measure the volume of your audio. We find that looking to peak at around -6db during recording offers us decent headroom in post-production, where we’ll usually then look to bring the peaks up to -2db or -3db. It isn’t always as simple as that though, you could have an actor whispering and shouting in the same scene, so use tools like your Hard Limiter to snip the peaks off these loud parts and bring the quieter audio closer to them.

Noise reduction, when used liberally, can minimise a lot of the background hiss on segments you’ve had to amplify, but be careful not to distort the sound of your dialogue and give it that horrible underwater effect. Use a subtle fade in on each segment, and layer your entire show with one big track of roomtone to blend everything together.

We also like to listen to finished shows on as many different formats as possible. On a phone through earbuds, through the car stereo, and even through the laptop speakers. Always consider where your listeners are consuming your Audio Drama – unfortunately it’ll seldom be on a nice pair of headphone like the set you used to put it together with.

And it should go without saying, but listen with your ears. Never do a final listen-through sitting staring at your DAW. If you do this, you are visualising what you see, and making it harder for your brain to pick up on things that aren’t quite working. Go out for a walk and listen, or at least close your eyes.

All good? Let us know your thoughts at on Twitter, or in our Facebook group.