A sinister office space masked by workers’ fake enthusiasm. A high school reunion run amok by the opening of a time capsule. A 13th birthday where every decision matters.
These scenes make up some episodes of “Oddly Enough,” the Chippewa Valley’s newest radio drama.
“Oddly Enough,” the newest collaboration between Converge Radio and the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild, premieres 7 p.m. Friday on WDRK-FM Converge Radio (99.9). Listeners can also enjoy episodes on Converge’s website after they’re aired.
The first season of “Oddly Enough” includes five episodes, each of which was written by a member of the writers guild, brought to life by local actors and then edited and produced by members of Converge.
B.J. Hollars, founder and director of the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild, said the series showcases the growing creative scene in the Chippewa Valley.
Unlike plenty of television shows and other radio dramas, “Oddly Enough” tells a different, discontinuous story each episode.
“Creating a serialized show with stand-alone episodes seemed like the best bet,” said Hollars, who wrote the episode “Night of the Living Lennies.” “In this way, all the writers could work within the same shared universe while ultimately doing much of the writing independently. ... It allowed for plenty of freedom within thematic parameters.”
Hollars drew inspiration for his episode from television shows like “The X-Files” and “The Twilight Zone.” The episode showcases aspects of both “horror and heartache,” Hollars said.
His episode takes place on the night of a 50-year high school reunion, n which a couple brings to light some long-held secrets when they open a time capsule.
“This episode, like most of the episodes I write, began with a simple ‘What if?’ question,” Hollars said. “In this case, the question was, ‘What if two former high school sweethearts reunited on their 50th reunion to share a dark secret?’”
Each of the episodes in the first season falls under the category of science fiction, regardless of the episodes’ varying topics, Karen Drydyk, the showrunner of “Oddly Enough,” said.
“I feel like dystopian and sci-fi stuff has really been on the rise for the past ten years, so ... every episode has a twist,” Drydyk said. “What I really like is that we have five different writers and each episode has its own take on that concept. It’s not all the same.”
Drydyk said every episode has a twist, just like episodes within science fiction television classics.
Radio dramas, like podcasts or books on tape, allow for the audience to use their imagination, Hollars said.
“For me, that’s the greatest joy of the genre,” he said. “It’s a collaboration between those who create the radio dramas and those who listen.”
Scott Morfitt, Converge Radio station manager, also boasted the audience’s use of imagination.
“I think that’s a really engaging thing that we don’t get a lot in today’s age because with everything being so multimedia, ... a lot of ideas are fully conveyed in every possible way to us now and everything’s broken down on so many lines,” Morfitt said. “And that’s great for some things, but for others I think people want to use their imagination and get to connect with something.”
Each episode, which span 30 minutes, can take anywhere from 30 to 45 hours to produce, Morfitt said. This includes writing, table reads, recording and producing.
“It really is a labor of love, that’s why we’re all putting in those hours.” Morfitt said. “Each person is a very real part of the process and we’re really working with people’s’ strengths and past experiences, so I think that really does make it a better product, too.”