On Writing "Bend in the River"

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By Emilia Hurst

It’s not easy writing an 8-episode radio drama, but then again, writing of all kinds can be difficult.  Yet writing Bend in the River proved particularly tricky due to its plot line: the story of 25-year-old David Sundy who, while boarding a ferry en route to his grandfather’s funeral, time traveled to 1958. 

Had any of the writers been alive in 1958, things might have been easier.  But since they weren’t, they relied upon research and the audiences’ ability to suspend their disbelief—the latter of which is a staple in science fiction stories.


Co-writer Charlotte Kupsh hopes the radio drama’s science-fiction elements will appeal to listeners. “I actually don't read a ton of sci-fi and fantasy, so writing a podcast about time travel was an exciting and new experience for me. But I think that, broadly, the podcast is echoing the trend in popular literature toward stories that are crossing tonal and genre boundaries. So, our podcast is about time travel and there are definitely some classic sci-fi elements to the plot, but it's also a really funny show. Similarly, we have a lot of laugh lines in there, but we also have quite serious moments where characters are grappling with issues like gender inequity and stereotypes in the late 1950s. We're doing a lot of things at once.”

The radio drama was collaboratively written by local writers Charlotte Kupsh, Jim Rybicki, Ken Szymanski and B.J. Hollars—a process that Charlotte says proved to be a lot of fun.

“Personally, I really enjoyed the opportunity to work collaboratively with BJ, Jim, and Ken,” Charlotte says.  “We all have different strengths as writers, and we functioned really well as a team. We ended up working through a lot of individual scenes together, with all of us in one room bouncing ideas off one another and trying to come up with the right line of dialogue that would really pull a moment or scene together. Those were some of my favorite moments in the writing process.”

Once the words were written, it was up to Blugold Radio station manager Scott Morfitt and his producers, Nathan Baughman and Eli Klatt, to bring those words to life.  Following several recording sessions with a group of talented voice actors, Scott and his team got to work editing.  Asked about his favorite part of the process, Scott didn’t hesitate: “Watching our producers work to mold the amazing work the writers and actors did into one larger piece.”

When asked where she got the inspiration for Bend in the River Charlotte credits the collaborative process.  “I actually got a lot of inspiration from the other writers. BJ is such an energetic person, and that translates to his writing—he's willing to try anything on the page. And Jim is full of great ideas. He has a way of visualizing the inner workings of the plot and figuring out exactly what's missing--he wrote us out of more than one tricky plot hole. And Ken has a really good understanding of what words or phrases just sound right in the script—he did so much to help polish our scripts. With a team like that, it was hard not to be inspired.”

 You can listen to Bend in the River Fridays at 7PM with re-airs on Sundays at noon and Wednesdays at 7PM only on Blugold Radio 99.9. In addition, you can catch up on previous episodes here.  The live dramatic reading of the final episodes will be held at The Metro at 7pm on Saturday, May 5th.  Tickets can be purchased here (10.00 for general admission, 25.00 for VIP).  Don’t worry if you fall behind; the live reading will feature a special recap to ensure that both new and old listeners know everything they need to about the twists and turns in Bend in the River.