In 1965 George Broughton built an 80-foot tall beacon in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains with the goal of guiding life to Earth. Fifty years later his self-proclaimed project of galactic hospitality is being shut down. The future of the beacon now lies in the hands of the current hosts of the radio station, the Gazelle, set below the light. With fifty years of music and reported UFO sightings by the show’s listeners, it’s up to the hosts to find a way to save the radio station and keep the beacon lit.
“The Way Here” is an original radio story inspired by classic radio dramas and works of science fiction, drawing from thought-provoking pieces such as Rod Serlng’s “The Twilight Zone" and Kurt Vonnegut’s “The Sirens of Titan,” as well as classic sci-fi films from the late seventies and eighties. Utilizing music, tropes, and styles found in public radio today, “The Way Here” provides a unique cinematic experience for radio listeners
I was in my backyard one summer night, looking up at the stars. I wanted to get a better look at what was up there, so instead of buying a telescope I conceived an idea to build a watchtower where friends and I could hang out, listen to music and stargaze. My idea to build “The Biggest Thing” was quickly squelched by my roommates who didn’t want a 30-foot tall cabin in their backyard, but I couldn’t shake the image of the tower below the night sky. What was it for? Who lived there?
The 30-foot watchtower grew into an 80-foot tall light, and The Way Here was born. In its first draft it was a staged play. With a childhood spent in theater this seemed like the natural expression of the story. As I continued writing the script the logistics of staging a production proved too large of an expense, and as the story focused more and more on the radio shows of the characters, I decided to turn to that format itself.
Radio dramas have been around for nearly a hundred years, and with the advent of podcasting, the medium has found resurgence in popularity and credibility. My obsession with radio programs and podcasts started while working a summer in an Alaskan salmon cannery. Programs such as The Moth, Radiolab, and This American Life kept me company while working 16-hour shifts freezing fish eggs.
When I returned home, I started producing my own radio segments. My short documentaries have been featured on the Third Coast International Audio Festival website and I was picked up for a workshop with Transom.org. My focus has been primarily on non-fiction stories: personal relationships, working in the cannery, delivering pizzas, partaking in communion. But I believe creating and sharing new stories to be just as important as living and sharing our own.
The Way Here is the result of two-years of hard work and stargazing. It is inspired by the best of radio production over the last fifty years: all of the news coverage, caller participation, personalities and music that filled the airwaves. It's a tribute to radio and to all the ways in which humans can create and share stories. It’s a story of people believing in the unknown and wanting to believe. It’s a story of what we sacrifice for our work and how we find purpose in what we do. Whether you’re driving in your car, sitting in your home, or laying beneath the stars, I hope you enjoy.