Radio drama by comm. students to air on WPCD

Peter Floess

Staff Writer

image provided by Deane Geiken

image provided by Deane Geiken

On Tuesday, November 15, at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and Wednesday, Nov. 16 at noon and 8 p.m. Parkland Radio, WPCD 88.7 FM, will play “Airing Robots.”

“Airing Robots” was put together by Parkland’s Communications 142 Radio Production and Communication 140 Voice and Diction.

“Airing Robots” is based on the play “R.U.R.,” which was written by the Czech writer Karel Čapek in 1920. “R.U.R.” stands for “Rossumovi Univerzální Roboti,” or “Rossum’s Universal Robots” translated from Czech.

“[It] is famous for being the first time anywhere that the word ‘robot’ is used in the world of science fiction,” says Deane Geiken, director of Parkland’s WPCD 88.7 FM radio station.

COM 140 instructor Michael O’Brien believes what makes the play a bit different is that it is on the older side—almost 100 years old—and is a science fiction story.

In comparison, last school year’s two radio dramas were based on an Agatha Christie’s detective mystery “The ABC Murders” and John Dickson Carr’s locked room mystery “The Burning Court.” Both shows had scripts from the CBS “Suspense” radio show of the ‘40s.

O’Brien says he has read “R.U.R.” many times.

It took O’Brien’s class less than two hours to record the script they then sent to Adam Porter’s radio production class. Porter says he and his class were enthusiastic about the project and had a fun time producing it.

Porter’s class will produce two versions of the production, says Geiken.

“Communication 142 students were split up to form two groups to produce the drama,” he said. “Each group will have the same dialogue, but each will be unique with its own special sound effects, soundtrack and production.”

One aspect of “Airing Robots” and its source material Geiken finds interesting is the type of robots featured: androids as opposed to cog-and-gear machines.

“[T]he robots of R.U.R are not your typical mechanical robots that you might imagine for this sort of early sci-fi story, but more akin to cyborgs or androids made from organic matter. The robots of R.U.R. are more like the ‘Cylons’ of the 2004 version of ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ or the cyborgs of the ‘Terminator’ movie series,” he said.

Čapek, who was a highly-political writer, wrote “R.U.R.” in 1920, when Europe was feeling the effects of the Russian civil war and the end of World War I. According to Czech writer and biographer Ivan Kilma, Čapek wrote the play in response to many of the societal and technocratic utopian ideas that were spreading around Central Europe at that time.

R.U.R. was first performed in 1921, Kilma states.

The Parkland student-created drama is “one of the highlights of the semester at WPCD,” Geiken says.

“[T]o have a production  such as this, created and produced by Parkland College students and then aired on WPCD, is an amazing experience. The talent and imagination of these students is out of this world. Their training and skill really comes out when you listen to these productions,” he said.