7 episodes

Original audio drama - Horror, Sci-Fi and Adventure from Columbus, Ohio. Find more on DistressFrequency.com or follow us at @DistressFreq.

Distress Frequency Distress Frequency

    • Science Fiction

Original audio drama - Horror, Sci-Fi and Adventure from Columbus, Ohio. Find more on DistressFrequency.com or follow us at @DistressFreq.

    Downs: The White Ghost

    Downs: The White Ghost

    “She traded her eyes for forbidden knowledge.” 







    When creating the character of Susan Downs, I was looking for something with a strong logline that could carry any story I felt like telling. I wanted something with a supernatural bent, and I was tired of the crime noir stuff I’d been doing before that. She’s appeared in four comic books, a few ashcans, two short films, and now audio fiction. 



    Alycia Yates returns from the movies to portray Susan on radio. I can’t say enough about her performance as the character. She brings a sense of humor to that I think Susan has, but I don’t always get onto the page. She’s an offbeat performer, comfortable with all sorts of wacky stuff, and I could not do this without her. Alycia – thanks.  



    Jenny Key brings the low-key thunder as Emily Exeter, a woman who sold out her friend but didn’t get much out of it. She really communicates the character’s sense of world-weary shame. And much thanks to Tiffany Kiely for stepping in as the White Ghost. She’s a perfect otherworldly presence, and I do believe she could pull out someone’s heart.  



    This is one of the few Distress Frequency pieces that has anything approaching a happy ending. As Susan says, “Vengeance isn’t my thing.”  







    More Susan Downs 



    Here’s where you can find more Susan Downs: 



    Movie 1: A Voice from the Dead 



    Movie 2: Angel’s Pin 



    Downs Comix on Amazon Kindle



    Production 



    Hoo boy, this one’s been a long road. 



    This was one of the first ones we recorded, nearly four years ago. In between then and now are at least one round of re-records, a guitar jam session, my grad school program, at least one child, and a pretty steep learning curve with Adobe Audition. I did this one originally in Audacity, then switched to Audition, then lost that version (something about the files opening on a flash drive – don’t ask), then had to mix it all over again.  



    I’m still having a little trouble with the stereo mix on this one – all I can say is I’m sorry. I believe pretty strongly in releasing and moving on to the next thing, but there are definitely some moments I’d like back.  (I mean, I don’t regret them badly enough to mix the damn thing a third time, but you know.)



    Inspiration 



    This specific story was inspired by two old-time radio shows. First, an obscure 1942 radio show called “Come to the Bank,” by Lights Out. In that story, a fellow learns how to walk through walls but gets stuck in the wall of the bank. Second is the Orson Welles version of “The Count of Monte Cristo.” The main character of “Monte Cristo” is wrongly thrown in jail, makes a daring escape, and takes revenge on the ones that sent him there.   



    Hmmm, now that I’m writing this out, the piece feels a little derivative.  



    Susan herself is a descendant of any mysterious stranger who sweeps in and solves someone’s problem, most notably the Phantom Stranger, Captain Kirk and Knight Rider.



    Alternate Ending 



    The original ending had Kat Kenner trapped inside the mountain, entombed until she found enlightenment. The ending I went with is a little jokier, but I thought it but more human. I didn’t feel like being elegiac at that moment. I guess you can take your pick.  

    • 17 min
    The Greatest Show (Left) On Earth

    The Greatest Show (Left) On Earth

    Jerod Brennan always goes dark.



    I’ve mentioned this before, but when we were first
    conceiving this show, for some reason we kept coming back to threats to
    children. “Godmother” was my riff on this theme, and Greatest Show is Jerod’s.
    He, uh, managed to go a little darker than me.



    Greatest Show (Left) on
    Earth started out as a 5-page short film script that Jerod wrote a few years
    ago. I didn’t do much to adapt it – mostly I converted the stage directions to
    first-person narration or dialogue.



    For example, here’s how the Crooked Man’s intro is described in the original script:



    EXT. CIRCUS TENT – NIGHTThe Crooked Man BARKS at the crowd, drawing them toward the tent. He collects items from them as admission: a can of food, a book of matches, a winter coat.



    I converted that to the spiel that Max delivers as we enter
    the tent for the final performance.



    I’d like to give a special shout-out to Dan Kiely for striking the right world-weary note for Harry’s narration. He really sounds like a guy who “escaped the end of the world.”



    Cast & Crew



    Harry Weisz: Dan KielyClem: Tiffany KielyThe Crooked Man: Max GroahYoung Nathan: Tony GoinsWritten by: Jerod BrennanAdapted and Produced by: Tony GoinsRecordamatography: Micah Jenkins



    Bong of the Living Dead



    So I mentioned that Dan Kiely, Tiffany Kiely and Max Groah
    are part of a local film group called Backward Slate Productions, and that they
    have a movie called “Bong of the Living Dead,” and that film is available on
    DVD, Blu-Ray and glorious VHS. Friends, I’m here to tell you that’s all true.



    It played a crap-ton of festivals last year, and it is indeed available in all of those formats.



    Backward Slate Productions



    Bong of the Living Dead









    Bong of the Living Dead at Scream Team Releasing



    SFX Corner



    A lot of the heavy lifting in this show is done by Kevin
    MacLeod’s “Waltz of the Carnies,” which is gratefully acknowledged here. I don’t
    know anything about Kevin, and if there’s dirt on him, don’t tell me, because
    he’s aces in my book.



    Kevin MacLeod’s “Waltz of the Carnies”



    I also used the following from Freesound.org:



    civil defense geiger
    counter_lionel electronic labs model 6b.wavaudience becomes
    still 01.wavWind chimes 3
    (quiet)Backpack Foley (The tent flap!)Canvas Tent 2.wav



    And a number from ZapSplat:



    The trickiest foley in this piece was the scene with Harry and Clem. The script called for light wind and a Geiger counter. How do you depict a light wind? Over audio, any wind at all sounds like a hurricane. I opted to put in wind chimes. I guess Harry is a wind chime guy.



    Some of the foley was performed live by me: The handcuffs at
    the beginning are a pair of slip-nose pliers, and the ticking at the end was a
    fingernail clipper. I’m snapping the lever backwards in time to the action.

    • 11 min
    Making Ends Meet

    Making Ends Meet

    I actually read this story a few years ago in Fantasy Scroll
    Magazine, and when I got in touch with Jarod I suggested it could make a good
    radio story. It has a strong narrator, a nice twist, and – most importantly –
    it ain’t too long.



    This episode marks the first one of our second season, and
    also a chance to work with a lot of new talent. I’m always impressed by the
    quality of performers and writers in Columbus, and I know I haven’t scratched
    the surface:



    Writer: Jarod K. AndersonThe Clerk: Stefan LangerThe Receptionist: Emily TurnerThe Production Manager: Tony GoinsAdapted and Produced by: Tony Goins



    Both Emily and Stefan are well-known actors around town – Stefan most recently appeared as Thomas Jefferson in Red Herring Productions’ production of Discord and Scaramouch in The Emperor of the Moon with Actor’s Theatre of Columbus. Emily is a playwright and actor whose full-length show, Girl, In Progress was recently produced by Red Herring Production, and she was the playwright-in-residence at Curtain Players Theatre as part of its 2019 New Works Initiative.



    Jarod K. is a familiar podcaster around town, probably best known for writing and performing “The CrypoNaturalist,” a kind of Marlin Perkins for the supernatural. That show is always at the top of my queue whenever he releases a new episode. It’s about finding beauty everywhere around you – arguably the opposite of Distress Frequency, but it’s a great show.



    One last piece of good fortune for this piece: I had a chest cold when I recorded the Production Manager. I felt like crap, but it really helped for the performance. I also benefited from having Stefan and Emily on hand while I was recording. They urged me to do it with more menace, and you can hear their direction in the final edit.



    I’d like to talk more about Emily’s work as the Receptionist
    – it’s a short part, but she really sets the tone as the Clerk steps into the
    supernatural. She gave us a half-dozen different approaches to that role,
    ranging from bored to sassy to creepy. I’m working on another piece so you can
    hear how the different approaches would’ve made it a very different piece, so
    look for that in your feed.







    SFX Corner



    I had a heck of a time nailing down the conveyor belt sfx. I
    searched Freesound.Net, tried a bicycle chain, I tried to gimmick up something
    with a length of chain … nothing worked. Then, I went to my friends’ annual
    apple cider party. What you’re hearing is actually an 1870s-era cider press.
    It’s a crank-driven mechanism that crushes apples for apple cider.



    So the whole sound works like this: First, you hear a
    screech that’s from the swingset at the park down the street from our house.
    Then, you hear a thrum I downloaded off Freesound.org. Then, you get the cider
    press, and it’s topped off with an “air brake” sound I also got from Freesound.




    Bottom line: Nothing in that sfx is related to machinery or
    conveyor belts. Sfx is often about how a thing *should* sound, rather than
    trying to get a real-life recreation of the thing.



    I threw a link up to the original cider press recording on Freesound.org. it’s creative commons if you want to use it for something. Drop me a line if you do; I’d love to hear it. It looks like it’s been downloaded 20 times so far!



    Here are the Freesound.Org sounds you hear in this piece, gratefully acknowledged:



    Opening Garage.mp3 Bus, Air Brake, A.wav1122thrum.wavFront door open
    and close.wavWooden door creakingDoor Sounds
    » Deadbolt and
    Doorknob lock.wav Desk-Drawer-Metal-Close-03.wav
    DoorBell Shortened

    • 16 min
    Simulation

    Simulation

    Spoilers and behind-the scenes stuff is at the bottom –
    Uploading your consciousness to the cloud – we’re going to see if we can make that old sci-fi trope even more horrifying than it was already.
    While we’re talking about tropes, it’s a trope to say that “It came to me in a dream.” But … I still have a sense-memory of waking up with this scenario on my mind.
    This story is an example of what I call “dirtbag future.” Most of what we see as the future is just bolted onto the present. There’s not going to be a movement that wipes away the present and replaces it with a Jetsons-type future. That goes double for the people that are living here. I wanted to write a sci-fi story starring people I went to high school with.
    Cast:

    Greg: Micah Jenkins
    Medical Brain Scan Simulator: Alycia Yates
    Recordamatography: Micah Jenkins
    Writer / Producer: Tony Goins

    SFX from the following Freesound.net users:
    CarStartSkidCrash.wav by musicmasta1
    Boot Sound by GameAudio
    **** SPOILERS AFTER THIS ******
    Micah did a great job with this one – my favorite moment is when he’s recording the message for his kids. I liked that on the page, but he really brought it to life.
    My favorite moment here is the very end, when Micah’s character says he thought there’d be more to the afterlife than this. It’s after the end for him, and he makes a bid for a little human connection.  The machine just gives him a canned response that’s had all the humanity vetted out by the legal department.
    For me, the horror aspect of this story isn’t being trapped in a computer. It’s the idea that this amazing sci-fi technology would be used for filling out hospital paperwork.

    • 13 min
    The Palomino Station Murder

    The Palomino Station Murder

    The pitch for this was pretty simple: Our Town, but on a space station, and with a murder.
    Where I come from isn’t exactly a small town, but it’s pretty close. As I picture a space station, I picture it being pretty much like that, but more so. No one’s moving in and no one’s taking off for the big city like I did.
    And murder always gives a story a good structure. The murder is the beginning, the end is the capture, and everything on the way is the middle.
    This is actually one of the first stories we did – The recording date was December 29, 2015. So yeah, this project was a long time in the works.
    Cast Notes
    Once again, we turn to Micah on this one as the unnamed Station Administrator. I think he’d actually be pretty good at that job. Alycia Yates joins us as Young Becky Clevenger, and that’s me (Tony Goins) making a cameo as the young murderer.
    Recommended
    This show puts me in mind of two other great shows that are under way right now. I’ve got them on my subscription list and I recommend them wholeheartedly.

    Our Fair City – Post-apocalyptic corporate satire.
    Uncanny County – Southern gothic horror with a southern-fried flair.

    • 8 min
    Godmother

    Godmother

    Tony Goins: Like I said before, when we conceived of this series, we got a lot of submissions involving a child in peril … or a child as a cause of peril. This is my contribution to that genre.
    Our second child was born with a serious case of jaundice, culminating in an awful New Year’s in Columbus’ Children’s Hospital. Jaundice is pretty surreal: All the doctors thought he’d be fine, but there was a small chance he’d have permanent brain damage.
    Around the same time, I heard an old-time radio story (I can’t remember which one) about a fellow facing a family curse. The two ideas came together neatly.
    ” At night, she made little cries, and we’d pray for her to go to sleep. Then she’d be still, and we’d be sure she was dead.” – That’s real.
    Cast Notes
    Jenny Key is heart-wrenching as the scared mother Allison. I put the piece in her hands, and she carries it. But my single favorite moment is Aaron Sinclair’s breakdown. To really sell the horror, the character’s masculinity has to break. Aaron does not hesitate.
    Micah Jenkins continues to steal shows as Jerry, the kindly old Wiccan bookstore owner, and what else can I say about Alycia Yates? She has handled everything I’ve thrown at her. I love to *hear* her take something offbeat and knock it out of the park.
    Jerod Brennen does some behind-the-scenes work directing, and elevates the whole thing. He did a couple of impromptu discussion sessions between takes, working with the actors to find their characters. That’s a weak suit of mine, and very illuminating to watch.
    Recommended
    This piece has a clear antecedent in a 1930s series called “The Witch’s Tale,” a series of nasty tales narrated by “Old Nancy, the Witch of Salem, and her wise old black cat, Satan.” She’s like the Old Witch from the EC Comics, but right in your ear-hole. My usual source is Relic Radio, available wherever fine podcasts are sold.
    Sound Acknowledgments
    The following sounds are from Freesound.Org, and are acknowledged here with my deep gratitude.

    Buddhist Prayer Bell.wav by surly
    baby singing talking by Yuval
    Cat Angry Meow.WAV by softcoresoft
    Crying newborn baby child 3.WAV by the_yura

    • 19 min

Customer Reviews

Goblin J ,

Great Anthology Fiction

This is well produced and well written audio fiction in the vein of Twilight Zone. Fun, strange listening.

Sean McGurr ,

Fun Twilight Zone-like Radio Drama

From the streets of Columbus, Ohio comes this anthology of old-time inspired radio plays with a twist. I've listened to the first two episodes and love the mix of great stories along with high-quality audio production. Fans of Rod Serling or O. Henry will enjoy. A nice change of pace from the news, sports, and pop culture podcasts that fill my playlists. I look forward to more episodes.

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