“The Darklands” Radio Show to Premiere on WFWM Next Semester

“The Darklands,” a new radio show created by Cumberland-based writer Scott Foard, will air on WFWM, Frostburg State University’s public radio station, next semester.

Foard, the executive producer of the production company Misfit Toys Industries, said he’s hoping to revitalize the arts scene in western Maryland through a creative project featuring collaboration from students and community members.

“The Darklands” is going to be a “good old fashioned, scary, radio program like Arch Oboler’s ‘Light’s Out, Everybody’ or the ‘The Twilight Zone,’” Foard said.

In October 2015, Foard talked to WFWM Director Chuck Dicken about his plan to produce a series of half hour episodes, produced solely by members of the western Maryland region.

“There’s so much talent lying around in this community and very few opportunities,” Foard said.

Dicken thought about Foard’s idea, and he eventually agreed to move on with the show.

“I love the idea of helping to produce, record and play some locally-written radio dramas on WFWM,” he said. “We have recorded several holiday radio dramas by Front & Centre Stage over the years, but none that were written specifically for WFWM.”

The show would be very labor-intensive, but they would be a lot of fun, Dicken said. He expects that it will take time to produce the six episodes Foard wrote, but that “the results will be well worth the effort.”

“I think the fact that these shows are science fiction or horror-based is fun,” he continued. “Also, doing radio dramas really takes you back to the old days of radio when these kinds of shows were done regularly.  Radio is, after all, ‘theater of the mind.’  Your imagination gets a chance to run wild and I think people will respond to that.”

An audition was held April 16 for voice actors to try out for roles. Foard reached out to Professor Nicole Mattis, chair of the Theatre and Dance Department, to recruit students to audition.

Production and editing won’t begin until after June, Foard said.

Writing since the age of nine, Foard has a number of ideas for “stupid stories” for the show. Foard recounted a time when he was fishing with his daughter when she was five, and he said, “she asked me, ‘Daddy, how come nothing ever fishes for us from under there?’ Boom. Story idea.”

So far, he’s written six half hour episodes for the first season. He’s optimistic about his show being renewed for a second season.

Foard sees this as a unique business opportunity that extends further than just radio. Previously, he ran a production company in Richmond, Virginia.

“The fun part about it for me is that it’s not just going to be on the radio,” he said. “We’re going to recruit from this college and anywhere that wants to do it. Illustrators to do a graphic novel style presentation of the audio as it goes along.” According to Foard, “There are no, really, illustrated podcasts. So it’s a unique business opportunity as well as a unique performance opportunity.”

He likened the medium to a comic book, except the audience listens to the story instead of reading it.

In addition to recruiting writers, voice actors, illustrators, and musicians, he’s hoping to potentially involve computer science and marketing students to help implement and promote the podcasting element.

Foard sees this show as a way to build a relationship with the university and provide experiential learning opportunities for students.

“The idea I would like to move to is to hopefully get these exercise and how to produce this show into the curriculum,” he said. “You guys learn a whole lot about a whole lot but actually how to make a show, production itself, where do you find the money? Who do you talk to? Where do you find a broadcast outlet? How do you re-sell it? How do you market it? Those things, you don’t get taught.”

The arts can play a significant role in revitalizing western Maryland, he said.

“I want as much, as possible, to get Western Maryland energized and enthusiastic about this because if you think about it, look at what we got here,” he explained. “We’ve got FSU, we’ve got the Cumberland theatre, we’ve got the Embassy Theatre. We’ve got all these people. If we just coordinate and work together, the industries that have left this area, we can replace that income” with an arts community.

He continued, “everyone seems to think our best days are behind us. I don’t believe that’s true. I believe that the best place to make that stand both economically, and to find our pride, is in the arts.”

The arts have a healing quality for people in difficult situations, Foard said.

“There’s a message I want to spread that healing through the arts is the right thing to be doing,” he said. “I turned my life around through the arts.”

Explaining the power of the arts, he said, “they’re more powerful than coal. And the great thing about the arts is unlike coal, we control it, because we’re the artists.”

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