by Elizabeth Gracen:
I had the great fortune to meet John Alsedek some years ago through our mutual friend, the lovely Adrienne Wilkinson. John has been kind enough to help me with many of my film projects as a producer and jack of all trades. In turn, I’ve had a blast working on his labor of love, SUSPENSE radio. He’s even helped me flesh out several writing projects (which I have yet to write!) over the years. I consider him a true friend and collaborator, and I am thrilled that he is currently writing posts for Flapper Press about the history of radio.
Please meet John C. Alsedek!
EG: John! I’m so happy that our friendship and collaboration has taken this current turn. Thank you so much for being a part of the Flapper Press team! I consider myself lucky to have you on board, sir!
JA: Thank you kindly, boss lady! I’m honored!
EG: You are such a good writer and incredibly knowledgeable about the history of radio.
Before we get into your passion for this subject, let’s back it up so that you can tell us all a little bit about your history. How did you become so interested in radio and all things "vintage"? What is the ultimate attraction to this genre that fascinates you so much?
JA: Hahaha . . . well, I'm at an age when what people call "vintage" are just the things I grew up with! The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Dark Shadows, old Universal horror movies, stuff like that—it's what I watched as a kid. As for radio . . . I'm not QUITE old enough to remember the "Golden Age of Radio" from the Forties & Fifties, but I was a wee lad when radio drama made a brief resurgence back in the 1970's. I used to listen to CBS Radio Mystery Theatre on a little transistor radio in bed when I was like 8 or 9, and I've never forgotten the feeling I got from that.
EG: I met you in the early days of your SUSPENSE career. Tell me how your partnership with Dana Perry-Hayes started and how you two decided to venture into bringing that iconic radio show back to life?
JA: When I first started doing radio drama back in 2009—three years before we brought the classic radio series SUSPENSE back from the "dead"—I was doing radio plays live on public access TV. Well, Dana happened to be visiting a friend in the studio next door, we got to chit-chatting and discovered we had a lot in common, and before long we were working together.
As for SUSPENSE . . . back in 2011, we'd started doing another anthology series for an audiobook company, but they kind of dropped the ball on the project, and so we started thinking of doing a new radio anthology series. And then it hit me: why not bring back the greatest of the radio anthologies, SUSPENSE? In May 2012, we recorded a pilot episode—an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's "Cool Air"—and sent it to Sirius XM Radio. Well, it was just two days before we heard back; they loved it and wanted to know how soon we could get them the first dozen or so episodes to air. By fall 2012, we were running 3–4 times a week and did so until our channel (BookRadio 80) was repurposed. At that point, we decided to see if we could get on some terrestrial stations—I figured maybe we could get on 25–30. As of today, our reimagining of SUSPENSE has run on over 300 radio stations worldwide, including Wisconsin Public Radio, Alaska Public Media, and Radio New Zealand.
EG: Your bevvy of talented actors has truly grown since I met you and recorded our first episode. Tell me about your roster and the kind of work you are doing with them.
JA: For me, it's really funny to listen to the very first episodes because when we got started, we hardly knew any actors! Our acting pool basically consisted of the FABULOUS Adrienne Wilkinson, Daamen Krall, Christopher Duva, and Rocky Cerda. But our company grew pretty quickly—Lizzie, you were like our fifth regular cast member! By the end of Season One, we'd expanded pretty substantially: new voices included Susan Eisenberg (the voice of Wonder Woman in much of the DC Animated Universe), David Collins (a familiar voice to Star Wars computer gamers), Ron Bottitta, Talon Beeson, and others.