KIRO 97.3 FM Seattle, Seattle Radio Theater and Town Hall Seattle have a special treat for listeners this Halloween. A Walk in the Dark is a live radio drama that will air October 29.
The program is written and produced by KIRO’s resident historian Feliks Banel. He worked for the station 30 years ago while in college and now does history features on the station. Twice a year, since 2000, he has produced and directed radio dramas, before a live audience at a Seattle theater. That all changed this year.
“In the past we have had anywhere from a couple of hundred to 600 to 700 as a live audience. The energy in a big room with that many people watching and listening is amazing. People laughing and clapping, reacting to dumb local jokes, especially inside stuff about KIRO personalities who are taking part. You know, that’s going to be impossible to replicate in the studio. I’m going to be using ZOOM for all the players in the presentation. The ZOOM feed won’t be available to the public, I’m just using it as a tool to get audio from the people at their homes in the area.”
“Ordinarily we would have a lot of folks from the station along with other local celebrities and some former broadcasters involved. You know some of the personalities from other stations that people remember in the area over the past 40 or so years. This time around, it’s going to be all station staff with a mixture of the talk show hosts, news anchors and reporters. It’s going to be a mix of all KIRO people.”
A Walk in the Dark will twist fact and fiction about old Seattle on the cusp of World War II. Banel, who is passionate about radio; not surprisingly, focuses on radio during those uncertain times.
“It’s set just before WW2, it’s loosely based on facts. In early 1941 Seattle was the first city in the United States to do a practice blackout. It was in march of 1941 when they turned out all the lights in Seattle. Life magazine had pictures of that. It was a very haunting image of a city getting darker and darker.”
“My story is set in October of 1941, just before Halloween and a new guy comes to the city to take a job at KIRO. He has a hard time getting to the station because he mistakenly goes to the transmitter which is out on an island in Puget Sound. Fearful that he is going to be fired before he even starts his new job; he has to get to downtown Seattle to work his first shift. That’s when spookiness ensues.”
Banel says radio is the perfect medium for his theater of the mind presentation.
“This is a nod to KIRO’s history, it’s a nod to how cool radio still is. The ability to hear human voices remotely with either a true story as the news or a fictitious story like we’re doing on the 29th – nothing can beat that. Radio is still king in delivering audio content. Not that those other appliances for entertainment these days are bad; but radio can’t be beat in terms of efficiency and the ease at which you can share something like this.”
So will there be any channeling of Orson Welles on October 29th?
“This isn’t like the fake reality that War of the Worlds broadcast created. What we are doing is more of a traditional radio play with actors. Sure, whenever you do any kind of radio play on or near Halloween, you can’t help but think about and remember what Orson Welles did in 1938; and how exciting and cool that was that they fooled so many people.”