I‘ve got a new passion.
The air adventures of Jimmy Allen…
Someone sent me a link to dumb.com, a massive collection of just about everything. Here, I found old radio programs, zillions of them. Since a lot of what I do at work takes 4% of my brain, I found myself listening in. Jimmy Allen has become my addiction.
It’s the story of a telegraph delivery boy who saves an airliner (how? don’t know) from hijacking. For this, he is given a scholarship to flight school where he meets Speed Robertson, an ace pilot and solid mentor.
The stories are interesting. Millions of kids tuned in to hear what was going to happen next. And Robertson, in teaching Jimmy the basics of flight, taught them as well. I was fascinated (with my own pilot’s license) to hear the same exercises I learned (i.e. circling a point) taught way back then.
But the most interesting thing is the storytelling. Sure, often Jimmy and Speed don’t seem to see the most obvious of plots against them. But often I’d find myself slowing to a stop at work, riveted as Allen fought the control of a crippled ship or orbited above a fog-blanketed Chinese city, his fuel critically low.
The lesson here is that a story is not only visual. Like reading, we are deprived of the images of the action, but also like reading, the story can hold us solid. One must examine the limitations of this medium (that people had to describe to each other what they were seeing (“Look, here comes a car! Who’s that in it? Is that…?”)) to see how a story can be magnified by its medium. Here, ME-109s scream into the speakers, quivering fear truly quivers, and engines really pokitty-pock-pock when they stop.
Like radio plays, written stories are deprived of vision. However, we have a depth of storytelling (a character’s thoughts, a word-choice to influence a mood) in spooling out our tale. Don’t try to simply tell the audience what is to be seen. Go deeper than that. Take advantage of the magic of the written word.
BTW, if you are going to listen HERE, start with Episode 1039. It’s cleaner, clearer, and more consecutive.