My new flux capacitor finally arrived last week, and I have now finished calibrating, and fitting it to the DeLorean. That can only mean one thing, were about to take a trip into the past to look at the history of Audio Drama.
Before we zoom off into the annals of time, let me give you a little bit of an outline, so that you know what to expect from this series.
After a little bit of research it was clear to me that this topic had the potential to become a book. You know, if I knuckled down and explored every avenue. I assure you, that is not my intention with this series of posts. I plan on keeping it light and entertaining, factual and to the point. (After all, this is a blog).
How long this series lasts, we will have to wait and see, and who knows, maybe one day I might expand it into book form, but for now it’s just going to be a fun little road trip down this historical highway.
The plan is to give you a general idea of the evolution of audio drama, and bring you links to some of the landmark shows of the past, for your listening pleasure. So strap yourself in, because ‘eventually’ the DeLorean WILL reach the required 88 mph, even if I have to Thelma and Louise this bad boy off a cliff!
So where did it all begin?
At the Paris World Expo of 1881, French engineer Clément Ader presented his recent invention, the telephonic transmission system. He had arranged 80 transmitters across the front of the stage at the Palais Garnier, and broadcast the opera, via telephone wires, to listeners at the expo some 2km away.
Within three years of this initial demonstration, experimental systems had been commissioned in Portugal and Belgium, and within a decade, this system had been commercialised in France, and dubbed ‘Lé Théâtrophone’, (The Theatre Phone), and systems were beginning to pop up the length and breadth of Europe.
Word of this amazing technology had reached America, and in 1890 it’s first demonstration had been set up. So say, 800 people in the Grand Union Hotel, Saratoga, listened to The Charge of the Light Brigade, conducted nearly 200 miles away at Madison Square Garden.
By the turn of the century, coin-op telephone receivers could be found in hotels, clubs, and cafés, across France. Even home subscribers could enjoy listening to live plays and opera for a small patreon fee.
Riding the high life of entertainment came crashing down for the Théâtrophone after 50 years, due to the mass availability of the wireless radio. But this was by no means the end of audio drama; oh no, this was merely the beginning.
In the next post we take a look at how World War One put Marconi’s wireless telephone on the fast track into almost every home in the world.
If you enjoyed this glimpse into the past, why not check out part two by clicking the picture link provided below.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic, or any other for that matter, so why not leave me a comment below or come and chat with me over on Twitter.