INSOMNIA: The Billy Senese Radio Drama Now on iTunes

May 4, 2007

Billy talked about writing Insomnia in this blog last year. He has a new Midnight Radio Theater page on MySpace as well as a podcast on iTunes.

Click here to subscribe to podcast


PRX Review: Crossing Over With Ruben Martinez

January 5, 2007

Producer: Ben Adair (10:30)

Review by John Hingsbergen for PRX(Dec. 17, 2006)

An enjoyable, somewhat off-beat, feature segment. Based on one long interview with author Ruben Martinez, this piece starts strong with some great natural sound that will draw the listener in. 

Interviewer/producer Benjamin Adair narrates the story in a relaxed, natural style. He’s “chatting” with the listener rather than “announcing” or “narrating.” A very comfortable, non-self-conscious delivery. 

I especially like the way the opening narrative fades to make way for Martinez. A clever device that, to be honest, reminded me of the National Lampoon Radio Hour of the 1970’s. Kept me hanging on, wondering, “What’s next?” 

Adair has used a number of off-beat techniques to keep it interesting, including natural sound frequently woven in behind the interview clips 

I’d use this as a discussion-starter for a talk show on immigration issues. Would also work well in a magazine with an immigration theme. 

There’s a reference to “it’s Spring” in the opening narration so users might want to consider whether or not to use it in other seasons.”

Listen to: Crossing Over with Ruben Martinez

Listen: Bruce Springsteen: The Seeger Sessions

December 27, 2006

from PRX

prouducer: Joyride Media

PRX Description: “One-hour music intensive radio special details how Bruce Springsteen was inspired by Pete Seeger’s musical legacy while recording his latest album, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions.”

Listen to full program here (59 mins) 

(A quick sign-up is required to listen to all PRX shows for free_

Listen: Guardian Talks with Lynne Truss

December 23, 2006

Guardian Book Club event with Eats, Shoots & Leaves author Lynne Truss.

Listen: Nobel Laureate and Economist Amartya Sen

December 22, 2006

from PRX

producer: Jenny Attiyeh

PRX Description: ‘Amartya Sen, the distinguished economist, philosopher, Nobel laureate and Harvard professor, talks with ThoughtCast about “Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny.”
This new book examines the unfortunate connection between violence and our tendency to identify with one key trait — our ethnicity, or religion, for example — to the exclusion of all others. Sen argues that we can combat this tendency by rejecting this narrowly defined, limited sense of identity, and embracing a broader, richer and more complex understanding of ourselves.
Amartya Sen was born in West Bengal, India (now Bangladesh) and teaches economics at Harvard University. He is known in the wider world for his work on the causes of famines. ‘

Listen to the program here

Listen: The Invention of Childhood

December 20, 2006

The Invention of Childhood

presented by Michael Morpurgo for BBC 4 Radio/History

A major thirty-part narrative history series exploring British childhood and the experience of British children over the last thousand years.”

Listen to the programs here. 

Listen: Dan Brown Speaks

December 16, 2006

from PRX

Dan Brown Speaks

producer: New Hampshire Public Radio

PRX Description:

“Brown talks about his famous book, its adaptation to a new film and the controversy surrounding both. In the second part of the show, host Laura Knoy joined him onstage for a few questions of her own.
The event took place at the Music Hall in Portsmouth on Sunday night, April 23rd [2006] and aired the following morning on the Exchange on New Hampshire Public Radio, Monday, April 24th. ”

Listen to the full program here 

Listen: Ani DiFranco Live from Joe’s Pub

December 14, 2006

from PRX

Ani DiFranco Live from Joe’s Pub

Producers: Rita Houston and Sarah Wardrop (WFUV)

PRX Description:

“It’s been over a decade since singer, songwriter, and activist Ani DiFranco toured the coffeehouse circuit, but at Joe’s Pub in New York City, she took to the small stage once again. Hear songs from “Reprieve” and more as host Rita Houston joins one hundred lucky fans for Ani DiFranco, recorded live at Joe’s Pub. ”

Listen to the full program here

Listen: Poets Read Their Own Work

December 12, 2006

This is a BBC 4 Radio series titled ‘Poetry Out Loud’. I’ve always enjoyed listening to authors read their own work. The experience reveals a lot about their relationship with their characters and words. It certainly reveals a lot about the authors themselves. How would Sylvia Plath read Lady Lazarus?

Click here to find out for yourself.


December 11, 2006

Production Notes: Insomnia and The Long Weekend

by Billy Senese for The Sound Palette (Dec. 11, 2006)

In the beginning…

When producing “Insomnia” and “The Long Weekend”, I began purely from the point of view of a filmmaker. I had never produced anything for radio before, so I really had no other direction but to proceed as though I was making a couple of short films.

I came up with an idea. I wrote some scripts. I cast it, planned it, shot (recorded) it, cut it, produced the sound design, and produced the music.

So what was the difference then?

From a financial standpoint, I didn’t need all that extra crew hanging around. That was kind of nice. I didn’t need a camera or lights – very nice. There were no locations, no set design, no costumes, no makeup – nice, nice, nice, nice. No headaches? Yeah, right. There were still plenty of challenges to be met, especially when it came to the writing and performances.

For instance, in “The Long Weekend”, a married couple is arguing over whether or not they should have a baby. How many unsaid issues in a marriage are communicated simply through body language? How do you show body language in radio? You’re forced to come up with more imaginative solutions (tone, space, a well-placed sigh, silence, music, etc.) What I successfully avoided was using exposition or narration. Albeit, there is nothing wrong with exposition or narration, it’s just not the choice I would’ve made if it were a film script. And that’s the discipline I maintained throughout these plays.

Production Notes -“Insomnia”

The lead actress, Rachael Hofmann, flew in from Washington, DC to record her parts. After she returned home, I discovered that the entire final scene of the piece was missing from the audio source – whoops! It just so happens that the final scene is set entirely over the phone. So I borrowed a friend’s junky 8 bit digital recorder specifically designed to record phone conversations and re-recorded the scene live between my phone in Nashville and hers in DC. The 8 bit natural phone effect was perfect (I could have never duplicated the sound quality I was looking for as well with filters), and the conditions ended up leading to better performances all around. Sometimes you need things to go wrong.

Production Notes – “The Long Weekend”

Creating the monster sounds was by far the hardest challenge to overcome in this piece (I can’t even imagine the difficulties I would have faced with an independent film). Thomas Nola ( came up with the noises, and I maneuvered them into the piece. We knew we wanted a real monster – not something about which you’d say, “That sounds like a bear” or, “That sounds like this or that.” At the same time, we didn’t want it to be anything silly, alien, or unreal – very difficult to do. After many trials and errors, I believe we pulled it off.

Listen to trailers of INSOMNIA and THE LONG WEEKEND and links to the full play on PRX.

Read PRX EB Joseph Dougherty’s review of THE LONG WEEKEND

billypic.jpgBilly Senese is an independent filmmaker, producer and writer living in Nashville, Tennessee. His feature film debut, “Dark Awakening,” will be released shortly. His work focuses on the darker, hidden aspects of humanity. In the last year he has turned his attention to writing and producing radio dramas.

Senese Productions: