Monday, April 03, 2006
Radio Sound Effects
In 1989, my wife and I found ourselves as founding members of G.R.A.C.I.E., the Golden Radio Association of Cincinnati-Imaginative Entertainment. This was a group of 8 folks of varying age who would travel around locally doing re-creations of old-time radio shows at various venues such as retirement homes and bowling tournament banquets. It was as part of this short-lived organization that I got to direct a re-creation. Knowing nothing about how these things were done back in the day, we made up our own ways to do sound effects. I still think our method for gunshots was effective. We squeezed a dozen or so balloons tightly into a small box. Then we drove a nail into a paddle-ball style wooden paddle. When the gunshot was cued, the sound effects guy simply banged as many balloons as needed with the nail. BANG! BANG! BANG! Hey, it worked!
Anyway, from the 1940 book RADIO DIRECTING, here are some shots of how it was really done in the old days. I later got to work with veteran sound effects men like the great Barney Beck at the radio cons and saw first hand this amazing lost art in action. One of the best compliments ever given me after acting in a radio re-creation was when Barney told me "Kid, you were born 40 years too late. You missed your calling and it don’t exist anymore." Sigh.