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MTPR Radio Theater

02/08/2015 - UM journalism professor Ray Ekness loves old radio plays. “I've always been interested in radio dramas going back to my days in college listening to War of the Worlds.”  Ekness produced two versions of War of the Worlds with an MTPR cast last year, one faithful to the original script and one very funny Montana version.

Ekness reached out to the MTPR staff again this winter with two classic radio dramas that feature the Big Sky State.  “After we performed War of the Worlds last year, I looked online for old radio play scripts and happened upon two that dealt with Montana.  So I thought they'd be fun to produce.  It was a blast working with the MTPR voice actors. And it allowed me to layer the different sounds to make the story sound the way I heard it in my head. It was a fun and creative way to use my semester break.”

The two radio dramas take you from the underground mines of Butte to riding the rails across Montana.

“Quiet Please: A Mile High and A Mile Deep”
This was an episode of the fantasy and horror program “Quiet, Please.” It’s a dark story set in Montana’s Mining City which first aired in August 1947. The original recording has been lost.  All that remains is the script—and now, of course, this broadcast.

“Empire Builders: The Billion Dollar Baby” 
The country was in the midst of the Great Depression when this radio drama first aired early in 1931. “Empire Builders” was sponsored by the Great Northern Railway and tried to put a positive spin on the economic troubles of the time.  Some of the themes might sound similar to things we’ve been hearing over the past few years during our generation’s economic slow down.

Both radio dramas were produced and directed by UM School of Journalism and Department of Radio-Television professor Ray Ekness and were recorded in the Joe Durso, Jr. radio studios in Don Anderson Hall.


Quiet Please: A Mile High and A Mile Deep

Announcer – Chérie Newman
Lincoln – Gus Chambers
Louie Sullivan – Saxon Holbrook
Tom McDonald – William Marcus

Empire Builders: The Billion Dollar Baby
Announcer – Chérie Newman
Old Timer – Gus Chambers
Laura – Denise Dowling
Mother – Beth Anne Austein
Bert Pond – Michael Marsolek
Jackson/Porter – Ray Fanning
Lady/Host – Linda Talbott

Sue is a native Missoulian. She has worked at the University of Montana for more than 15 years, 10 of them at Montana Public Radio.
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