Live radio theatre is a feat not commonly performed today. Most radio productions, like NPR’s ‘Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!’ or MPR’s ‘Wits’ are recorded and then edited for a later airtime. At the Pioneer Place Theatre in St. Cloud, ‘Granite City Radio Theatre’ performs to an audience and simultaneously airs live on KVSC, SCSUs radio station.
‘Granite City Radio Theatre’ is now entering its third season, this season’s premiere airing this Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Supported by a grant from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Legacy Fund, ‘Granite City Radio Theatre’ seeks to provide entertainment to the St. Cloud community, and reaches beyond, airing live on KVSC, whose broadcast reaches a 70-mile perimeter.
Entertaining a live and radio audience can be a juggle, as the show’s writer and emcee Jay Terry understands. Terry says he’s constantly playing to the live audience, something that he is familiar with, having acted since he was a kid.
“It’s really hard, for radio you have to keep moving […] it’s my personal struggle,” Terry said about engaging the live and radio audience.
‘Granite City Radio Theatre’ writer and producer Jeff Carmack talked about why the show chose to air live.
“It’s a great concept […] taking a risk. We want to have the live aspect, where anything can happen,” Carmack said.
One example of this would be during the second season finale, when musical guest Chan Poling, front man of Minnesota band The Suburbs, accidentally said the f-word, a memorable moment that was censored in time for radio listeners not to hear.
Terry said that he likes performing live because the audience is more forgiving, and there are moments where flubbing can turn out to be funny. Terry did say that airing live could be scary because there are no re-dos. Being live is familiar theatre territory for Terry, but is different when you’re also airing it to the public via radio.
Terry also cited Poling for being a fun guest who was willing to play around for the interview portion of the show. Terry said the interview is his favorite part of the show, though Terry said it could be tricky. Terry said he needs to ask questions that are interesting enough for the guest to answer, but will be entertaining for the audience as well.
“We want them to have a good time,” Carmack said about the show’s purpose. “There’s always social commentary, and we like to light-heartedly poke fun at what’s going on around St. Cloud,” Carmack said. “If you can’t laugh at yourself who can you laugh at?”
This social commentary comes through in the show’s sketches, which poke fun at Minnesota and St. Cloud culture, from handcrafted pottery competitions to Mayor Dave Kleis. The show also features a trivia competition emceed by Pioneer Place executive director Dan Barth, which brings out members of the community as contestants to test their central Minnesota knowledge.
Terry talked about the show’s importance to St. Cloud, and although with success may come talk of transporting the show elsewhere, Terry wouldn’t want to take the show away from St. Cloud.
“Some people view St. Cloud as a stepping stone to somewhere else, but St. Cloud can be a destination, St. Cloud needs this kind of stuff,” Terry said.
The season premiere of ‘Granite City Radio Theatre’ will feature musical guest Paul “Stretch Rocker” Diethelm, airing this Wednesday the following shows on Dec. 3, Mar. 18, and May 20. Tickets can be bought at the door, or on the Pioneer Place on 5th website.
About what’s new to come for this season of Granite City Radio Theatre.
“You’re just going to have to tune in,” said Carmack.