by Rebecca Mennecke
What’s that sound? No worries, it’s just season 2 of the local radio drama series, Oddly Enough creeping onto Converge Radio (99.9) beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4 and running every Friday through Dec. 13.
This local radio drama comprises the so-good-it’s-spooky work of local writers and radio masterminds resulting in ten episodes involving supernatural and sci-fi elements. Karen Drydyk, the showrunner, assures listeners that the new season will offer “a gasp, a giggle, and the chance to embrace our world in all its weirdness.”
Drydyk said it takes about a year to put each season of fictional episodes together. After the writers finish the scripts, they do a table read, record and then spend significant time “crafting the auditory experience of each episode.”
What exactly does that look like when it comes to season 2? I chatted with Karen Drydyk to find out more about this thrilling new radio drama masterpiece.
Rebecca Mennecke: What should listeners expect from this season? What are you looking forward to in the release of season 2?
Karen Drydyk: Listeners should expect some twists and turns, some regional geographic nods, and a few surprises. I’m most looking forward to our first and last episode of the season, but that’s because I think they’re relevant for me and other Millennials.
RM: What makes Oddly Enough a unique storytelling experience, as compared to other radio drama series?
KD: Oddly Enough is a unique experience because it’s a fictional account of sci-fi and odd concepts. No other local (and very few national) radio dramas focus on episodic sci-fic topics.
RM: This is a locally created radio drama series! What is it like to work with folks around the Chippewa Valley on this project?
KD: My favorite part of working as a showrunner for Oddly Enough is working with the incredibly talented inhabitants of the Chippewa Valley – from writers to production staff to voice actors. We have such a vibrant community, and I’m honored to bring their talents and voices to the airwaves.
One of the writers behind two of the episodes, “Memory Root and Bough,” and “Wrong Number,” Jim Jeffries (also known as: Jane Jeffries’ husband) said it’s pretty sweet to get to work with such “amazingly creative” people.
Rebecca Mennecke: Can you walk me through the creation of each episode from start to finish?
Jim Jeffries: My wife, Jane, and I work as a team. Usually each of us has an idea for a script and write the first three pages. Then we switch scripts, revise what was written by each other, and then advance the script about three more pages. We are more objective (ruthless) with each other and are not worried about hurting each other's feelings. We end up cutting a lot of dead wood.
RM: What makes Oddly Enough unique as compared to other radio dramas?
JJ: I like the local feel of the scripts in a Twilight Zone universe.
RM: What makes writing for print different from writing for radio? What are some tips you have to keep in mind?
JJ: We love radio because we don't have to worry about sets, costumes, blocking, or memorization. And the sound wizards at Converge are awesome to work with for sound effects.
After the writers finish up their reads, the “sound wizards” at Converge radio takes over to make the episode in its final form. One of those sound wizards is Alexx Stadtlander, a UW-Eau Claire student and the producer of every episode.
Rebecca Mennecke: Converge Radio works on adding in music and sound effects to the radio drama. Can you tell us more about the work you have to do to reach the final product of season 2?
Alexx Stadtlander: The final product for each episode takes anywhere from 3 hours to 6 or 8 depending on how detailed the writer wants the episode. As the producer I have a sound effects library that I get most of the sound effects and music from. If an episode calls for footsteps I'll find it in my database and listen to 2-4 recordings to find the sound that fits the episode best. I do the editing and recording in Adobe Audition so once I find the right sound effect I place it in the correct spot of the recording. Sometimes if I can't find a sound effect I like or the writer is looking for a specific sound I get to find something close and then edit by putting filters on it, I like having the freedom to put my own little twist on the sound effect.
RM: How does adding music and sound effects change the storytelling process?
AS: Music and sound effects bring the radio drama to life. It starts with a few voice actors that we record in the studio. They do a good job bringing their voice and character to life but if that were to air on the radio it wouldn't hold the listeners attention very well and the story wouldn't make as much sense. The sound effects add depth to the story and help bring it to life. Footsteps show that the character is walking around or is anxious and pacing around. The campfire ambiance shows that the scene takes place outside at dark. Without those little cues the story is not as exciting.
RM: What was it like to work on Oddly Enough? What is your favorite part of working on this project?
AS: It was a lot of fun to work on "Oddly Enough". I was part of the recording process for this season and I was the only producer this season so it was a lot of work but I enjoyed all of it. My favorite part of working on this project is the people I get to meet. I get to listen to really interesting stories written by local residents and then I get to meet and work with the writers.
Last season featured five spooky episodes, but this season, the Oddly Enough team has doubled their efforts with ten jaw-dropping episodes including:
Friday, Oct. 4: “Cornfield of Love” by Laura Buchholz
Friday, Oct. 11: “Go the Extra Mile” by Deb Peterson
Friday, Oct. 18: “Memory Root and Bough” by Jim Jeffries & Jane Marie
Friday, Oct. 25: “The Legend of Gassy Gus” by BJ Hollars
Friday, Nov. 1: “The Colony” by Deb Peterson
Friday, Nov. 15: “Civil Dialogue” by Laura Buchholz
Friday, Nov. 22: “Hold Your Nose and Make a Wish” by Deb Peterson
Friday, Nov. 29: “Wrong Number” by Jim Jeffries & Jane Marie
Friday, Dec. 6: “The Tinkerer” by BJ Hollars
Friday, Dec. 13: “7 Inches of Snow” by Laura Buchholz
In addition to listening on the radio and via online streaming, “Go the Extra Mile” will also be performed live on October 29 as part of the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild “Sound and Stories” series. Tickets are available here.
More information can be found on the Oddly Enough Facebook page here.
Finally, to get caught up on last season’s episodes, check out our Midwest Radio Drama portal available here.