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.
We're into Season 5 now, and we've had probably 150 different actors on—and honestly, I think nearly half have come through the auspices of Adrienne, who has been a real champion for us. It seems like not only does everyone who records an episode want to do more, but they bring in friends! Example: back in 2013, Adrienne brought in a fine Brit actor named Darren Jacobs . . . who brought in his friend, the charming Amy Pemberton ("Gideon" on Legends of Tomorrow) . . . who then brought in her friend, Fredericka Meek
. . . who just brought in Richard Lee Warren this past weekend!
I'm honestly in awe of the talent I've gotten to work with, but I especially have to thank Lizzie Gracen for the opportunity to record with the legendary Lee Meriwether! As I blurted out to Lee, she was my #2 crush as a kid—right behind Diana Rigg! Lol!
EG: On a personal note, you have a very interesting "normal" life as well. Can you tell me why you have always gravitated toward helping the older generation? Tell me about your experiences?
JA: While a good chunk of my waking hours are spent working on SUSPENSE, my day job is doing caregiving-type work for a half-dozen or so older folks in the Glendale/La Canada/La Crescenta area. I sort of stumbled into it by doing odd jobs for an elderly lady . . . who recommended me to her friends who needed help. I end up doing a wide variety of things: anything from light plumbing and electrical to computer work and gardening. It's really the first time I've worked with older folks, and I have to tell you, it's taught me a lot! They all have such fascinating life stories. My favorite one was that of a gentleman who has since passed on—born in Czechoslovakia, conscripted into the German Army as a teen at the end of WWII, later serving in the US Army in Korea. One day, we got to talking and it turned out that his sister had been married to the producer of The Outer Limits, one of my all-time favorite shows!
The only other thing I spend any substantial amount of time during the day on is trail running & hiking. I'd been a bike racer in my younger days, but had really started porking up. So this year, I've really been hitting the trails—2,300 miles and 400,000 feet of climbing. I find it relaxing, and it's a great time to run script ideas through my head!
EG: I’m always amazed that you have yet another tidbit of information regarding the history of radio. Will you continue writing posts for this subject, or possibly venture off into another "realm" for Flapper Press in the future?
JA: Oh, I expect to mix it up a bit! I’m finding that each column is leading me into the next one in sometimes subtle ways.
EG: Thank you, John, for sharing a bit of your life and for your excellent work for Flapper Press. I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!
JA: I can't wait to see what I come up with next too! Lol! Thank you, Lizzie!