Radio Stories in the Classroom

Radio broadcasts have a long history of telling fabulous stories. We all know of Orson Welles’ broadcast of H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds. If you haven’t heard it, you should check it out now:

Radio Dramas

From the 1930s to 1960s, radio dramas were popular throughout the United States as people were drawn to radio soap operas, mysteries, thrillers and even comedies. Popular television stars, such as Rod Sterling, even got their start in radio. In the 1960s, once television found a place in American homes, radio dramas faded to make way for television audiences.

Yet, now that the Internet makes radio programming readily available, radio dramas, as well as other radio programming focused on stories, is on the rise.

There are a growing number of science fiction and horror fantasy shows. BBC Radio aired The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on the radio before it was on a screen. You can even hear The Twilight Zone (one of my favorites) as a radio drama, with Stacy Keach as the host.

There are also a number of religious themed radio dramas, including Unshackled!, which I think is one of the longest running radio dramas of all time.

Locally, you can hear radio dramas (and other old-time radio shows) from 5.a.m. to 1 p.m. every Sunday on 106.3 WTND.

If you have any cool radio dramas you’ve listened to, or listen to regularly, I’d love to know what they are. Many of them people listen to over the Internet, but it’s still considered a radio drama.

Other Storytelling on the Radio

In addition to radio dramas, I love to listen to stories over the radio. The two programs I listen to most often, and would suggest using in the classroom, are both on NPR.

This American Life

Many of you know that TAL is my all-time favorite. I LOVE it. I have it on my phone and it’s the first thing I listen to every week when I run. Usually it helps me run farther since most of the time I want to get the whole show done in one run.

They just re-aired the broadcast 504:How I Got Into College, which I think you all should listen to. Another two episodes that I think every teacher should listen to are the ones they did about Harper High School in Chicago.

487: Harper High School, Part I

488: Harper High School, Part II

TAL website has lots of great features and you can do a keyword search and find any subject you’re interested in. When I did a search for the word “school”, here’s what I found.

The Moth

Another fabulous radio program from NPR is The Moth. The folks at The Moth travel around doing events where “real people” get on stage and tell their stories. There are rules–the stories have to be about you and they have to keep within the theme and time limit–but other than that, it’s just people telling stories of their lives. It’s really amazingly awesome. They do shows everywhere, including Chicago, and you can go and present your story at a StorySLAM (kinda like a poetry slam only with stories so I like it even more). Maybe we can take an NCTE trip to a Moth StorySLAM and one of you can be part of the broadcast.

There are lots of cool ways to bring stories into the classroom in fun and unique ways. I love listening to stories and podcasts and think that there’s lots of ways you can engage students in listening. What do you think? Would you use radio drama or other story-based shows or podcasts in your classrooms?


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