Sound Affects: A Radio Playground Celebrates 30 Years!

Promotional graphic for KFAI's Sound Affects: Radio Playground, Sunday nights starting at 9:30 pm.
Experience KFAI’s Sound Affects: Radio Playground, Sunday nights starting at 9:30 pm.

Here’s the story from Sound Affect producer and host Jerry Stearns:

I spent 14 years at KFAI hosting Shockwave with Dave Romm and Brian Westley.  Then, the station gave us some choices when a new schedule was being worked out.  So, I chose to go off in a new direction.

The first Sound Affects show was Saturday, January 1, 1994. It was right after the new Shockwave show with Dave and Brian. Occasionally, we would share the hour if we found something that fit both our radio missions.  On December 31, 2023, I will have completed 30 years hosting this show.  I hope to keep going as long as KFAI will let me.

My goal is to introduce listeners to Audio Theater of all kinds. If I find a new podcast of plays, I’ll ask permission to air an episode to let people know it’s there. I’m particularly fond of science fiction, detectives, and comedy – which are pretty common in audio theater circles. I especially look for Minnesota-made works. I also have a library of works from the last 30 or so years that I can choose from; some of them were made early enough that they don’t exist on the Internet at all; others no longer have their own web presence and are only hidden deep in a web cave like Archive.org. So I’ll dig those out.  I look for the best. That means good writing, good acting, and very good production values. Sometimes, I’ll pick up a work that is not so well produced but has a really good story or concept that deserves to be heard. They are just fun to listen to.  I have many friends involved in making audio theater all around the country and the world, and they often send me their work. If it is compliant with FCC language regulations, I am happy to put it on the air.

In my audio work over those years, I have a few dozen productions available on my website: http://www.greatnorthernaudio.com/. A few of them were made here in the studios of KFAI. Along with my partner, Brian Price, we have won an NFCB Golden Reel Award, two Mark Time Awards for Science Fiction Audio, a Norman Corwin Award from the National Audio Theatre Festivals for Contribution to Audio Theater, and an Audie Award from the Audio Publishers Association for Best Audio Drama of 2017.

But I am most proud of the longevity of Sound Affects for 30 years. I don’t hear a lot from listeners unless something goes wrong. I did have one fan tell me about listening to the show on Monday mornings while doing exercises.  So if something goes wrong on the broadcast, I try to get the archive fixed for those who listen online later on.

I have been listening to a new podcast by Twin Cities producers I have met, have word of a new episode in a long-running series by an old friend in upstate New York, and a brand new work of my own is under construction right now. So expect to hear some all-new audio theater on Sound Affects coming up in the new year.

Jerry Stearns

Host: Sound Affects
KFAI FM.  90.3 FM
Sundays 9:30-10:30 PM CST

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