The concept of oral storytelling has always captivated audiences, whether between three campers nestled in the woods or the enthusiastic professor dazzling some hundred students in a lecture hall with dramatic readings. Sinking into the imaginative setting of listening to a story is a treasured experience, and a few regional writers have created a new take on a radio show that embodies the enthralling experience of storytelling. Taking inspiration from shows such as The Twilight Zone, Oddly Enough— a new radio show featuring stand-alone episodes by writers Jodie Arnold, Laura Buchholz, BJ Hollars, Jane and Jim Jeffries, and Ken Szymanski—combines a passion for the weird and an enthusiasm to create stories.
Twisting and turning the world we see, Oddly Enough reimagines the radio drama with content that swirls genres of anthology, drama, humor, and sci-fi. Karen Drydyk, the showrunner of Oddly Enough, explains the incorporation of regional writers into the show.
“The most exciting part of show-running a radio drama like this is definitely finding people in the community to breathe life into the characters,” says Drydyk.
After playing two roles in Bend In The River, Drydyk says the cast is filled with familiar faces from past ventures. Although having never been a showrunner before, Drydyk says, “organization and communication are two of my strong suits as an educator, and these skills easily transferred into this role.”
I also had a chance to ask one of the writers on the show, Laura Buchholz, a few questions about her anticipation of the show and what went into its creation. While coming together for brainstorming sessions, Buchholz says, “we discovered how much we like doing weird stuff and watching shows like Twin Peaks and X-Files, and so there is plenty of enthusiasm and lots of potential avenues to explore.” The structure of the show is fluid, Buchholz explains. “We wanted to keep the structure more open, with each episode self-contained so that anyone could start listening without having to do a lot of homework.”
After writing for Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion for close to ten years, Buchholz is excited to journey back into writing for radio. I asked Buchholz what she is most excited about when venturing into radio as a channel for storytelling again with Oddly Enough. “Prairie Home was comedy, and that is what I'm best at, but this genre lends itself to comedy, too,” says Buchholz. “It allows for a nice back-and-forth of weird and funny. I was also very excited to work with other creative people again and to discover who the creative people are in Eau Claire, aside from the obvious ones we read about on the regular. Somehow I'm a writer who knows a lot of musicians, so it's been great to see all these other types of creative people come out of the woodwork. Maybe I was the one in the woodwork, who knows.”
Buchholz also describes the dynamic of the show. “We were just doing a thing, trying to create something cool. Your skills adjust as you go as a consequence of doing the work. That said, darker, weirder material is good because you can just go for it and don't necessarily have to pay attention to the laws of reality,” say says. “You want to create a river monster with tentacles that only targets drunk kids coming home from Water Street? Go for it. How about a kid who wakes up one morning and only speaks Latvian? Fine. It's fun. I think writers should take more risks. Why not? It's just a story.”
The show begins airing Friday, January 18 at 7PM on Converge Radio 99.9 and will stream on their site soon after. Future episodes will air subsequent Friday at 7PM through February 15!