John F. Barber

Imaginative Radio Plays


Inspired by early radio broadcasts, experimental poetry, and field recording, Imaginative Radio Plays is a 6’00” audio work composed of multiple, simultaneous sonic narratives, another added with each turn of the tuning dial. Rather than disappearing, these sonic snippets combine to build a meta-narrative about collective listening experiences.

At one time, we listened to radio broadcasts in our homes, separated from others also listening in other places, yet connected through our shared act of listening. A favorite was radio plays, where in exchange for entertainment, listeners were expected to listen to the entire work. Despite this expectation, listeners were free to tune the receiver, seeking other listening experiences.

Imaginative Radio Plays imagines what might have been heard as a mashup of sound elements – spoken word, music, environmental and mechanical sounds – and combines these multiple strands into a time-based sound narrative. This work is experimental, both as sound-based narrative, as well as a form of cultural production and experience.

This approach is purposeful, and designed for a collective listening experience where an audience specifically engages with the work. Ideally, audiences will listen to the entire work, consider how it sparks their imaginations over the time of the work, and afterward, discuss what stories they heard.