Radio performance takes listeners back in time

Published 3:52 pm Monday, April 23, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The Central Alabama Performing Arts Guild will take Chilton County back in time with their version of two classic radio show broadcasts on WSMX-LP 98.3 FM from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on April 28.

The Guild does a radio broadcast each year. This year the group divided their hour-long time slot into two 30-minute shows, including “The Shadow: The Blind Beggar Dies” featuring adult cast members and “Dick Tracy: The Case of the Big Top Murders” performed by student cast members.

Mary Schiermann, president of Central Alabama Performing Arts Guild, said the selections are something new for the group.

“In the past, we have done pieces that are familiar to us,” Schiermann said.

Kent Martin had suggested the Guild do an episode of “The Shadow.” Schiermann said she told him if they did, he would have to be the lead.

After Mary Schiermann found a free to the public script for the very first “The Shadow” episode, Martin agreed to play the part.

Script selection is a joint decision among husband and wife Mike and Mary Schiermann

and Sarah Jackson.

Mary Schiermann said Martin put a lot of work into the role and was fantastic.

She has enjoyed having a production for the adults and one for the students.

“It has been so thrilling to see people who have never been in front of a microphone … really just bloom,” Mary Schiermann said.

Mary Schiermann plays the leader of a group of beggars in “The Blind Beggar Dies.”

“I chose to use an Irish accent with her, and that was really fun and challenging,” Mary Schiermann said.

She said this was her first time to pick an accent for a radio play character.

“These characters just come to life in your head as you listen,” Mary Schiermann said.

In “The Shadow: The Blind Beggar Dies,” Chuck King of Columbiana voices a trumpet playing beggar and is killed early on.

King said he “fell into the part pretty easily” because he has played trumpet for several years.

“Mike and Mary are really great people to work with and they encourage you and make you feel like you can do it,” King said.

He said he enjoys the opportunity to perform.

King said he prepared for the recording session by reading over the script and listening to performances by other groups of “The Shadow: The Blind Beggar Dies.”

Sometimes getting the recording just right takes a few tries. King said one of the biggest things for a radio performance is making sure that the characters’ emotions come across.

“I am always impressed with people, and I like to help them find the performer in them,” Mike Schiermann said. “I just really like to encourage performers of all ages.”

Chris Johnson plays the part of the local pool hall owner in “The Blind Beggar Dies.”

In preparation for the recording session, Johnson said he thought about what a pool hall owner “who is a little on the shady side” might sound like.

Johnson said he started the radio station at LeCroy Career Technical Center when he taught in Chilton County Schools and is still involved with the station.

Chilton County Sheriff John Shearon and Chilton County Schools Superintendent Tommy Glasscock are each heard briefly in supporting roles.

Mike Schiermann’s broadcast background and equipment are what led the group to begin doing radio plays.

Auditions are held and parts are assigned based on who is a natural fit for the part.

“We try to select people to play these parts based on their true perspective and, especially for the radio, their voices,” Mike Schiermann said.

The radio play is recorded ahead of time.

Sometimes the parts are recorded all together, sometimes they are recorded separately depending on actor’s schedules.

Johnson said while the initial recording may not take a lot of time, there are several hours put into editing.

Mike Schiermann edits and pieces together all of the voice recordings, then adds appropriate sound effects and any needed music to complete the final piece.