What do you get when you give a computer consultant, three college English professors, a therapist and a landscaper a radio show? Utter craziness, that’s what. This cast of characters spends their time after their full-time jobs writing ridiculous story lines accompanied by original songs for a live radio show, which up until this January wasn’t even on the radio.
WHEN: Feb. 2, 16, March 16, 29, April 15, 19, 7 p.m.
WHERE: The Women’s Club Theatre, 410 Oak Grove St., Minneapolis
TICKETS: Regular, $12, Students, $8, General Admission seating, www.electricarcradio.com or call (612) 284-7348 for more information.
WHEN: Sundays, 6 p.m.
STATION: 89.3 The Current
It was almost two and a half years ago that the Electric Arc Radio show began, but before last fall’s season was aired on 89.3 The Current this month, the show existed only for its live audiences and in cyberspace.
“We’re filled with trepidation,” David Salmela, the show’s music director, composer and narrator, said about their upcoming season.
“It’s Herculean,” Sam Osterhout, a writer and performer, said about the effort of creating a radio show.
What can we expect from this new season?
Salmela and Osterhout promise gore – no, not Al Gore, they assured – gout, court-ordered polyandry, political figures, murder, intrigue, thievery and of course love, lots of love.
Osterhout said an average of 60 man-hours totaling over a week and a half get put into creating the shows. The group will have about three rehearsals near show week where they will try to go through the entire script at least once, which has changed since they first began performing in Salmela’s gallery, Creative Electric Studios.
“Back at Creative Electric, we’d sometimes take the stage and pass out the scripts,” Osterhout said.
“I’ve learned how to read,” Salmela said half-seriously. “I’ve become quite a reader.”
It all started with a literary bar mitzvah for Geoff Herbach, one of the show’s members, which furnished the combination of Salmela’s music and writers from the Lit 6 Project, a group of writers who offer workshops and performances of their work.
“It really was an evolutionary process,” he said. “It just sort of triggered stuff. ‘Let’s work ourselves to death and try to do a radio show.’ ” And then, he said, people just started coming to see them. They eventually outgrew their small theater space, moved to a bigger theater, and then outgrew that space as well. Now they are faced with the struggle of translating from stage to radio.
Instead of airing their live shows, prerecorded in front of an audience, the show’s members want Electric Arc Radio to be first and foremost a radio show. This means being able to record shows in the silence of a recording studio, minus the beneficial effects of a live audience with an immediate response to the action.
“We want to go in and record without an audience and still have it pop,” Osterhout said. “With an audience, you’re always getting feedback.”
This is the challenge for this creative enterprise, which could also be classified as a cathartic release for these creative types.
As Osterhout said, the only reaction you get in a recording studio is dead air.
Salmela’s and Osterhout’s eventual goal is to be able to quit their jobs and focus on their creative pursuits full-time. For now, Salmela is still a consultant and Osterhout still teaches college-level English.
They have, however, been getting good feedback from fans of the show so far, Osterhout said.
“Our accountant loves it,” he said. “She gathers a whole group of people to listen to it.” So, at the very least, the group’s accountant has faith in this humble radio show that only seems to keep getting better.