But just as radio blossomed during the Great Depression, the producers of “The Lacey Study” are hoping the lost art of radio serials might make a comeback.
Call it “entertainment for the new recession,” said James Cohen, who along with Andrew Bergmann has produced a pilot episode of The Lacey Study, a new radio fiction series set in Brooklyn.
Bergmann is a filmmaker who directed the feature “Jackrabbit Sky,” a film festival selection this year. Cohen is a writer and editor who has worked on “Revolutionary Road,” and other movies.
A listening session-style premiere of their pilot was held September 9 at the public radio station WNYC’s theater in Manhattan.
Though the well-attended premiere attracted mostly industry insiders, the strong interest surrounding the pilot, and the rave reviews that followed, suggest Bergmann and Cohen might be onto something.
“There’s really hardly anybody making fiction radio serials since they died out with [the advent] of TV fifty years ago,” said Bergmann, who developed the idea for the pilot after listing to old radio shows on tapes passed on to him by his mother.
He said after decades of decline radio serials, buoyed by the popularity of pod casts, are poised to rebound.
“It always seemed clear to me that this would come back at some point,” Bergmann said. “It seems now’s the time.”
The producers said they are now trying to find backing for the show to make a full first season. Each episode is thirty minutes.
The pilot episode follows the foibles of a Cobble Hill family, the Laceys, who are being studied by a graduate student taping their lives for a school project.
The action is crisp and laugh-out-loud funny at times as Nathan Lacey, the deadbeat, unemployed patriarch tries to steer his family through a series of middle-class crises.
Though the pilot has a decidedly brownstone Brooklyn feel, its creators say the show would appeal to listeners all over the country.
The remainder of the first season still needs to be written, but Cohen and Bergmann said they aren’t worried- in radio, after all, characters can go anywhere, and do anything.
All you need is some decent mixing equipment and a microphone.
The team hired a cast of professional stage and radio actors to read the parts. They spent a combined $5,000 to produce the pilot using state-of-the-art equipment, but Bergmann said anyone could make a radio drama, and at a much cheaper cost.
Cohen said if the show succeeds it might inspire others to use the medium.
He said they are looking for a major public radio station like NPR or the BBC in England, where radio serials remain popular, to pick up the show. Cohen said they are talking with several U.S. entertainment outlets.
“There’s no reason why Americans couldn’t or shouldn’t listen to fiction audio,” said Bergmann. “Everybody likes to hear a good story."
Learn more about The Lacey Study here.