In a world of rules and regulations, Ben Jarman, director of radio services at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, enjoys living on the edge− the edge of technology and academic innovation that is.
After completing his 26th year as a professor in the Radio-TV-Film department at UW Oshkosh, Jarman designed a three-week fall interim class that offers advanced radio students the chance to create and produce original radio dramas. These dramas are a form of audio storytelling that rely strictly on dialogue, music and sound effects to captivate the audience.
“This was his [Jarman’s] brain child,” said Derrick Carey, a student in the radio drama class. “He was passionate about teaching this class, saw the resources he had available with the students he had and ran with it.”
While the class was open to all advanced radio students, just 15 students with diverse backgrounds in production, writing, acting and engineering took the Jarman challenge.
“It’s been like a radio drama camp,” Jarman said. “We’re all camped out here, just making it happen without other distractions.”
What happened was an educational experience that the students say they will never forget.
“Interim is usually just a class you take to get out of the way,” said Carey. “But this is about three weeks of us having fun. We took this class to create, play with the gear and actually have something to show for it− as opposed to just a grade. I also enjoyed working with people who have similar interests and similar career goals.”
By the end of the class, students will have written and produced completely original radio dramas that will be broadcasted live on WRST, made available through podcast on iTunes U, and entered into state and national competitions.
“It’s definitely something great to put on your reel,” said Jamie Bellmer, a student in the radio drama class. “It really touches all aspects of a career in radio.”
The radio drama students will also have gained invaluable teamwork experiences.
“This is literally like creating something, and it’s taught us how to collaborate with group members and even students from other majors,” said Max Grill, a student in the radio drama class.
Grill’s group collaborated with music students to add effects and a soundtrack to their murder mystery drama.
“It’s really been about coming in, doing our thing and learning what it feels like when someone else is dependent on your work,” James Mutter, a student in the radio drama class said. “If there’s been a class I’ve taken in the program that is the most applicable to what I’ll be doing once I graduate, this would be it.
The student’s radio dramas debuted Friday, Jan. 25 at 10 p.m. on 90.3 WRST-FM. Broadcasts will also be played throughout the spring semester.
To listen to a clip, click here.