Those scrappy Misfits
It seems there are a lot of groups out there producing modern audio theater and one of the more intriguing of the lot is Misfits Audio. Why? That company is staffed by a group of people dedicated to producing quality modern audio theater programs who aren’t too hung up on making a substantial profit from their hard work.
In fact, a large part of the revenue for the enterprise is derived from sales of Captain John Tadrzak’s book, Santa Claus and the North Star. Tadrzak started Misfits Audio with a few friends about three years ago with the idea of covering several genres and providing unique, original programming — and some updates of classic old time radio shows — to listeners for a price that’s hard to resist.
“Everything we do, we do for free,” Tadrzak said.
While some might expect some budget programming, that’s not how they do things at Misfits Audio. Tadrzak said about six or seven “full-timers” staff Misfits Audio and and the operation relies on about 80 people around the world to provide scripts, sound effects, voices and everything else necessary to produce modern audio theater programs.
Tadrzak said the Ohio-based company relies on those professionals who are dedicated to their craft and volunteer to keep Misfits Audio functioning.
“If it wasn’t for these people, I would not exist. Each one of them is a part of Misfits, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “They’ve got their lives, jobs and families — and they’ve got me pressuring them to get their lines in.”
And Tadrzak and company do stay busy — Misfits Audio posts a new program on its site every Monday. Tadrzak said it’s always something new — original science fiction, detective, science fiction programs as well as remakes of OTR programs such as The Bickersons and The Lone Ranger are features on the site. Tadrzak said Misfits Audio strives to provide something for all fans of modern audio theater, adding that most shows are around 20 minutes long and take about three months to script, record and produce.
He added that the Misfits Audio team also remasters some original OTR programs to boost fidelity — something very important to attracting new fans to the genre. Tadrzak said newer listeners might be tempted to skip over an OTR program regardless of how great the script is if the audio is sub par, adding that recordings of radio programs from the 1920s through the 1950s are often in poor quality. Remastering those old programs — or taking the scripts and recording them with new actors — often provides the quality that people who are accustomed to the high fidelity typical of audio MP3s.
Tadrzak said Misfits Audio programs are distributed almost exclusively in the MP3 format through the site. There are no advertisements on the site as promotional efforts are reserved for pushing the site’s content.
“We’re hard to find,” he said. “We’re advertising by word-of-mouth. We rely on people to write about us, to tell other people about us, to stumble upon us — whatever it takes to let people know we’re here.
“We’re just trying to get a following. We’re in the infancy stage.”
In spite of the lack of pay, Tadrzak said the people who work with Misfits Audio still get something of value out of their work for the site.
“Some people use it as a stepping stone to go professional,” he said. “They use us in their portfolios.”
Meanwhile, he said people who stop by Misfits Audio are in for a treat. People can legitimately download MP3 files of the sites programs and can find stories to entertain everyone from children to adults — just the thing to make those drive time commutes or long car trips pass a little faster.
Ultimately, Tadrzak said the crew at Misfits Audio strives to help preserve a genre that started in the 1920s when radios first became widespread and Americans turned to them for entertainment.
“Is old time radio dead? No,” he said. “You’ve just got to look forward.”
For more information, point your browser to www.MisfitsAudio.com. Stay tuned to First Arkansas News for more coverage of both modern audio theater and old time radio (OTR).
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.