Evelyn’s Request

An audio collage combining excerpts, samples and audio quotes from a range of over 20 different popular films featuring radio broadcasts. Sampled films include: ‘Play Misty for Me’, ‘Radio Days’, ‘Talk Radio’, ‘The Fog’, ‘Warriors’, ‘American Graffiti’ and ‘Pump Up The Volume’. Radio is both the medium and the subject of this programme, a unique feature that is used to play with listener expectations, flitting between fictional radio stations with bursts of static, white noise and wild long wave frequencies as though scanning between stations. As this schizophrenic collage progresses numerous simultaneously developing narratives begin to catch the listener’s ear.

To some degree this is an investigation into the common use of radio as a device within film to explore specific themes such as synchronicity, community, rebellion and nostalgia – as well as the cliché’s of shock jocks, obsessive listeners, lifelines to the lonely, pirate radio and meditations on the concept of dead air. These acousmatised soundtracks allow us to examine more closely the ways in which one technological medium is perceived through another, examining the accuracies as well as highlighting stereotypes and distortions.

Full text

Radio broadcasts are often contrived as cinematic devices to provide continuity whilst switching between the perspectives of different characters or simultaneously occurring events. The omnipresence of the radio invites these parallel edits that are often used to set up contrasts or sympathies between characters or build up tension with increasingly rapid cuts between perspectives. When the soundtrack is separated from these scenes the subtle mechanics that are at work are revealed. We are still able to distinguish between differing environments through a variety of acoustic clues; the low sound of cicadas in the background of one environment, the poorly tuned slightly distorted signal of another, the reverberant sound of a car radio in the still of the night or the tinny sound of someone listening in on cheap headphones.

The realization of this programme in the form of a broadcast marks an important distinction that elevates these cinematic fragments and clips from radio fiction to radio fact. Brought together here is an unusual collection of films, genres, characters and stories that span the last four decades. For the duration of the broadcast the actors playing these characters – the DJ’s, presenters and talk show hosts, for the first time became real. Hearing their voices over the airwaves makes this transformation possible and conversely turns the tables; we are now able to make perceptions about the medium of film through the medium of radio.

This work takes in examples from an eclectic and wildly diverse set of films, from teen angst drama’s and horror films to nostalgic reflections and imbecilic comedies. The mood of the piece reflects this diversity in its schizoid leaps between the inane, the ridiculous, the shocking, the horrific and the profound – just like the best of real radio.

Originally commissioned for the Drift festival of radio art in association with New Media Scotland. This piece was first aired on Resonance 104.4FM in 2005. An updated version was aired as part of the Radio Art Space project by CONA in Slovenia in 2011.

Featuring audio clips and samples from the films: ‘The Fog’, ‘Radio Days’, ‘Airheads’, ‘Pump Up The Volume’, ‘Classy Kill’, ‘Couch Trip’, ‘Dead End’, ‘Good Morning Vietnam’, ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2’, ‘Reservoir Dogs’, ‘The Truth About Cats & Dogs’, ‘American Graffiti’, ‘Urban Legend’, ‘Warriors’, ‘The Big Swinger’, ‘The Fisher King’, ‘Talk Radio’, ‘Good Morning Vietnam’, ‘Joe Dirt’, ‘The Ladies Man’, ‘Do The Right Thing’, ‘Grosse Point Blanc’ and ‘Play Misty For Me’.