By Fredric Dannen
In 2004, a British journalist combined the word “broadcast” with the word “iPod”–at the time a widely used portable media player–and came up with a new term: podcast. The podcast is a pre-recorded radio program that is broadcast via the internet rather than over the radio. Back in 2004, you might download the program and listen to it on your iPod. Nowadays, you’re more likely to listen to a podcast on your phone, tablet, or computer.
Podcasts have become increasingly popular in the United States and elsewhere, even more so in the era of COVID-19, when people have ceased going to theaters and cinemas.
For some reason, San Miguel has never had a dedicated podcast channel–until now. On Friday, May 1, smapodcast.com was launched, with the goal of providing a regular stream of free programming, some in English, some in Spanish, some in both languages. All the content will relate in some way to San Miguel.
The initial content on the podcast website consists of four theater works, all performed live at the San Miguel Playhouse between July 2016 and January 2018. The four plays were presented and recorded live as radio dramas, and no video is required to enjoy them fully.
The marquee podcast for the launch is Michael Hollinger’s play “Tooth and Claw”, presented in March 2017 at the Playhouse. An ecological thriller set in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and based on real events, the radio play stars San Miguel theater veteran Jim Newell, Chloe Bronzan of San Francisco’s Symmetry Theatre Company, and seven Mexican and Venezuelan actors. The play is largely in English, though some portions are in Spanish. It was the first production of La Troupe Mexico, the bilingual theater company that subsequently has presented all its plays with supertitles.
The other radio plays are two dramatic monologues, performed by Judy Newell and Lola Smith, respectively; and an unabridged enactment of Herman Wouk’s courtroom classic, “The CaineMutiny Court-Martial.”
Another upcoming radio drama is an eight-part scripted series called “Flies in a Jar,” created by Deep Drag Productions, produced by Lady Zen, written by Nathan Feuerberg, featuring Lady Zen, John Jeffers, and other actors. The series, which Lady Zen describes as “a kind of murder mystery” as well as quasi-autobiographical, is expected to commence in June.
Radio drama is only one kind of program anticipated for the internet broadcast service. Daniela Franco and Carrie Haugh are developing the Children’s Podcast Project, a series in Spanish and English, aimed at and largely created by children in San Miguel and environs.
Additional future content will include interviews, lectures, storytelling, and other programs of local interest. The podcast station is not a news channel, and there will be no political content.
If you have audio, or an idea for a program, that you would like to submit, please send it to email@example.com.
For now, we hope you will enjoy the delights of high-quality radio theater, a not altogether lost art in the video age.