Why Golden Key Audio Part II – Why Audio Drama?

In our first post examining why we’re doing this odd thing called Golden Key Audio, we looked at some of the philosophical and cultural motivations for creating the show. But why, of all things, audio drama as a genre or format for this endeavor?

The answers are multi-faceted. First, there are the more practical/tactical realities.

Creating a multi-media (as opposed to simply a written, text-based) experience in the area of classical Christian or Catholic storytelling had long been in the back of my mind (rummaging through old emails a year or two ago, I found a script I’d written back in 2003!), but a few years ago, various circumstances saw our family attending church several miles away from our home town, which meant that, for the first time in years, I was unable to channel my enthusiasm for teaching and sharing faith-centered ideas and information on a local level.

I spent some considerable time contemplating how to exercise what few meager talents and abilities God had given me in a broader format…but with very little budget and, most critically, in a way that didn’t push me into a corner removed from my family (my wife homeschools our five children, with one away at college) too much more than necessary.

In other words, could such an endeavor actually involve my wife and children — and, as it turned out, friends and fellow parishioners, and the like?

The audio drama notion began to take shape, and was followed by months of researching the ins and outs of methodology, equipment, and so forth (I already had some background in audio and video, both analog and digital, so that helped).

I can only say that the approach has been a great blessing. It has allowed us to involve other families, friends, and interested folks of all ages from our church and community, as well as network with others on a literally International basis, and has helped foster, I’d suggest, newfound creativity and perseverance in our children and other youth with whom we’ve worked.

And, to be bluntly honest: it’s not an expensive genre to produce, though I’d argue it has the power — by way of creating a more multifaceted aural experience — to immerse the listener into the story in a rich and affective manner. Had I an endless source of millions of dollars, perhaps Golden Key would be an audio-visual (whether live action or CGI-based) endeavor.

The more esoteric (but no less sincere) answer to the ‘why audio drama?’ is also multifaceted.

On the one hand, we’re an increasingly audio-visual society. Our family, especially as dedicated homeschoolers, aims to be a book-centered one and reading has always been a central part of our family life (as the ridiculous number of books filling our home can attest), and that’s not going to change.

It’s not that we reject the viewing of film or video — far from it, though we work to be selective — but we’re aware of the problems introduced by television over a half a century ago, which have only increased. Visual electronic media, while not bad in and of itself, is like many potential goods: it desperately needs the moderation we’re not, as a society, often giving it.

But audio drama, in short, engages the imagination. It allows the listener a similar experience to book reading, which is to demand more mental and intellectual investment…more immersion into the story.

My wife, Beth, grew up listening to audio drama from a more evangelical perspective in the form of
programs like “Adventures in Odyssey” and “Your Story Hour.” Our own children have hence grown up with those shows as well, along with Focus on the Family’s excellent “Radio Theater” series of dramatization of classics (which brings us back to the question of why older Christian traditions, which are ripe with so many wonderful stories and so much rich history, are so often quite limited in how they retell and share those stories, which would immerse children and families in long-held cultural traditions informing their faith).

And so, the audio drama format aims to simultaneously engage a multimedia-centered culture, but not contribute to its less edifying effects.

And, in our case, it’s also been an enriching way to spend time, engage creativity, and feel a sense of accomplishment, as a family. Hopefully you’ll find it enriching as well.

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