Folks, I am very excited to have both Larry Weiner and Angelo Panetta on the blog today. They are the masterminds of the keenly funny space opera series Anne Manx. I have enjoyed 4 RRCA titles so far (Anne Manx and the Blood Chase, Anne Manx in Lives of the Cat, Anne Manx and the Ring of Minotour, & Richmond Smokes a Joint) and have thoroughly enjoyed each one. In fact, I think others should enjoy the works of these masterminds.
Giveaway! So I will be giving away 1 Audible US download of any RRCA title available of Audible US. Enter the Rafflecopter widget below. Or tell me why you like radio dramas in the comments for a quick entry.
1) Will you tell us a little bit about how Radio Repertory Co. of American (RRCA) came into being?
Larry: RRCA actually came into being in 1989, when I got together with an announcer friend, Bob Arsena (still the voice of RRCA), and another announcer, Mike Moran, to write and produce radio commercials for advertising agencies. That was nominally successful, but an article in my local newspaper in 1995 sent me into the direction of audio drama. It was a piece about National Public Radio’s “NPR Playhouse.” Somewhere in the article, program chief, Andy Trudeau mentioned he was always on the lookout for good original audio drama. I put the paper down and said to myself, “I can do that.” I had actually been fooling around with audio since I was a kid, and Trudeau’s comment gave me all the justification I needed to actually sit down as an adult and write something. Of course, I needed a studio to record the piece, and my partner, Bob Arsena, mentioned he’d been recording material at Angelo Panetta’s studio and was impressed by his ability. I approached Angelo with the idea, and he was just as gung ho as I was, and that was the birth of our relationship.
2) If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?
Angelo: Not sure I’d be interested in experiencing any for the 1st time again, but I can tell you some of my current favorites. I am really enjoying The Americans and just finished Mad Men. I’m also a Marvel TV and movie fan. Saw Ex Machina 3x’s, it’s my favorite movie of the summer so far. Book: Invent It, Sell It, Bank It! by Lori Greiner from Shark Tank.
Larry: My storytelling background is film (I was actually the story developer behind the muppet movie, “Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas”), so I think film even when I’m writing for audio. Every time I see the film noir classic, “Laura,” it’s always like watching it for the first time. Then, I’d have to list the Marx Brothers’ “Duck Soup,” and then “The Searchers.” Anything written by O’Henry is something I can appreciate as a ‘first time’ experience. Finally, the film “The Searchers,” is so good, I study it every time I see it from a film structure and cinematography perspective. As to TV series, I’d have to list “Mash,” and “Seinfeld” as shows I can watch over and over.
3) RRCA titles have music & sound effects incorporated with the story. For those of us who have no clue how those are seamlessly melded into the story, can you give a quick run down?
Angelo: We produce our audio like we were going to make an animated film, except we never draw the pictures. It’s important for us to make sure our actors put all the effort into their performance, like on a stage or movie. That way, when we add the sound fx, we can match the energy of the performance. Then we layer the sound effect and music. Early on we decided we would not use narration, so all of the action is told through dialog and sound. That is a challenge. The mix is what puts it over the top and makes the action clear to the listener.
4) In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author/publisher. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?
Larry: Well, Angelo runs the daily marketing effort, but in a global sense, the Internet has allowed us much more control and flexibility over the marketing of our own material. The downside is that you have to be much more active and involved in that, so I think successful creators today also need to be savvy marketers. And, we’re learning all the time. The most challenging part is trying to pin down a target audience, especially in today’s visual world. We think it’s a 35+ audience, but we’re still not sure about the size of that market. Also, we don’t really know if there’s a way to appeal to a younger audience, so we’re still playing around with ebooks, shorter form audio, etc.
Angelo: I don’t enjoy anything about the promotion process. It is very necessary, and we are learning a lot about facebook and social media. We have our own online store where you can order CD’s and download mp3 and High Definition Wav files. We are very thankful for the modern age of self publishing. It’s important to entertain your audience through social media just as you would with your product.
5) Many a scifi TV aficionado will recognize a few of the voice actors in RRCA titles. What is it like to work with such a cast?
Angelo: Getting to work with our talent is one of the most rewarding things about RRCA. Listen to this out take with Claudia Christian. We have so much fun when we record.
Claudia Chrstian and Pat Tallman are very supportive of the Anne Manx Series.
Larry: It’s all pretty incredible, but I have to say the cast that really blew me away was one of our non-Anne Manx titles. In “The Songbird,” I got to work with two absolute legends — Shirley Jones and Ed Asner — and a legend in the making, Broadway mega star Kelli O’Hara (now the star of “The King and I”). I actually got to write lyrics for two of the greatest legitimate voices of our time. I still shake my head over that. Working with Nala (Moira Kelly) from “The Lion King” was another incredible thrill. And, of course, every Anne Manx title has the unparalleled Claudia Christian, a truly great actor who has become an absolute friend.
6) What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?
Larry: To me, it’s always the question, is your stuff really science fiction or is it fantasy? I like to confound people by saying it’s neither. I’m simply writing character driven pieces that are set in the future. So, when people ask to categorize my work, I say, “It’s comedy, character driven stories, set in a science fiction motif.” Also, I tell people even though we’re writing audio material, I still follow a three act movie format.
Angelo: Anything to do with time travel.
7) Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?
Angelo: All of our side characters are wonderful. I enjoy Larry’s writing very much. The interesting thing about Larry’s writing is that it’s written to be spoken, and casting is what brings these characters to life. We recently had the pleasure of having Jerry Robbins from the Colonial Radio Theater act in both Richmond Smokes a Joint and Anne Manx and the Blood Chase. His portrayal of Chief Arum and Herm make those characters memorable.
Larry: In our first series, “Garson Krebs: Private Eye,” I had written an episode about two evil elder women, the Brook Sisters. They were so hilarious in the episode, I spun off an entire second series about them. They’re probably the best example of your question. The only time we did that with an Anne Manx episode, we spun off the Wendy McCloud from “Chromius,” which was played by Paris Jefferson. I thought it was an interesting character so I wrote a spin off with the Wendy character was the protagonist, and we cast Traci Lords in the part. Also from “Anne Manx and the Trouble on Chromius,” the side character Archie Lewis, played by the late Andy Hallet from the “Angel” series was probably the best side character of our series. His part was absolutely hilarious!
8) RRCA has some beautiful cover art. Will you tell us a bit about the artist(s)?
Angelo: Doug Shuler is an amazing artist. We were introduced to him through Holly Evan, Claudia Christian’s assistant at the time.
9) Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?
Larry: This is an exclusive, but I’ve begun work on a seventh episode of Anne Manx. My challenge is always trying to outdo my most recent Anne Manx, so maybe the next one will actually win the Audie award.
Places to Find Larry & Angelo
Radio Repertory Co. of America (RRCA)
Radio Repertory’s YouTube Channel
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