Icebox Radio Theater

News, events and doings surrounding the Icebox Radio Theater of International Falls, Minnesota.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


August 25th, and once again, I’m a day late with this blog post. But I’m hoping that blog readers are more forgiving than podcast listeners, who seem to reward regular posting with loyal listening.

August is rapidly fading away and the coming podcast season is looming. I’ve been focusing on trying to write scripts while simultaneously working on grant applications. To recap, we’re writing grants this year to establish a recording home, and to pay our very accomplished and professional actors. To do this, the theater will focus on its podcasting season much like radio producers from yesteryear focused on a season of radio shows. There are nineteen show slots between the beginning of the season on September 14th, and the end of the season on Memorial Day, May 31st. We are very close to having enough scripts to fill those time slots, but the only actual recordings we have are short works from the Spring Fling show, the Scoop Sisters from this July, and a Christmas show made up of a couple of ‘Calls to Santa’ calls from last year, and ‘The Christmas Room’.

Wow. That means we need to get to work and record. First step, find a recording studio. We are looking closely at two spaces at the moment, but the decision where to go will probably wait until early September. Then, we’ll need to get to work right away. First, there’s moving into the new space, wherever it will be. We’ll need wall coverings (carpet is good, blankets and sleeping bags do in a pinch) carpet for the floor, and some kind of insulation might be necessary if we have to deal with an unfinished ceiling. Then, computers and furniture will be moved in provide the machines necessary and few homey touches.

Incidentally, if you’ve got a chair or couch you could do without, let us know. I’m sure we could make use of it.

I think we’ll need a sound effects area, so that means a lot of SFX props will move into the space. Not to mention all the sound gear. I think I see a moving day in my future.

First order of business once we get settled will be recording a scare story or two for October. It’s all about the horror on the lead-up to Halloween, and who knows, we may even offer a bonus episode on October 31st itself.

My family and I had the pleasure of dinner with one of our most important alumni this week when Ben Utter, and his wife Brandi, made their way to the Falls from their new home in St. Paul. I met Ben when he was working at KXBR radio and we were just starting the IBRT. He appeared in the first three productions, and his talent is unequaled in my opinion. For the past few years, he has been living on the South Atlantic coast, and only just recently relocated to St. Paul. We’re thrilled to have him close, especially since he is considering writing for the IBRT. I can’t wait.

While we welcome Ben back to the not-so-far vicinity, we bid farewell to another of the IBRT’s VIP’s. No, no one died. But Anna Remus, an actress in the early years and a junior member of our first board of directors, is leaving for college. Harvard, in fact. I wish her the best of luck, and thank her so much for all she’s contributed to the theater. I feel blessed that Anna worked with us again this past year (on ‘A Christmas Room’ and ‘A Distant Land’) and hope she’ll return from time to time. Good Luck, Anna!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


As I write this, I am gratefully sitting in an air-conditioned building while Minnesota’s long-overdue summer finally descends on the city of International Falls. We’re pushing 90 degrees outside with a slight breeze, and I’m stuck working while the rest of the community heads to one of the Northland’s many lakes.

Hard to complain, however, when the Icebox Radio Theater is turning the corner on its best summer ever. This past week, it was the local media aiding the cause when a news station out of Duluth aired a story filmed during our last live show on July 29th. Cast, crew and friends of the theater gathered at my home to enjoy the broadcast, and feel just a little famous. So far, a lot of friends from all over the world have contacted me, saying they enjoyed the video and what we are doing here in International Falls. If you’d like to see the story, it’s still available HERE.

Sometimes, I feel my agricultural roots sinking deep. My family were all farmers a generation or two back, and it seems like I have a seasonal clock in my head that only allows certain jobs to be done at certain times. And for whatever reason, I write in the summer. I can write at other times, of course, but the business of making scripts seems to flow best when a warm breeze rattles through the scrub pines and maples, and the buzz of mosquitoes keeps most people safely sequestered behind screens in the cool of the evening. Laptop computers have been a boom. Nothing like sitting somewhere outdoors on a warm day and bringing worlds to life, creating problems just to solve them, and dreaming up characters that are both fantastic and familiar. Not that I’m able to do this very often, of course. You write a thousand words just so a sentence or two can really reach people. But I count myself among the eternally blessed that I came to International Falls and found an audience I could at least talk at.

Next, its back into the grant grind as the theater looks ahead to next podcast season, and major change in how we do things. Instead of seat-of-your-pants writing and producing, we are plotting out twenty podcasts running from Labor Day to Memorial Day, checking our calendars to see where the recording windows can be found between the responsibilities of jobs and family, and basically looking at making the leap from amateur to professional. That’s right, we’re taking advantage of Minnesota’s favorable funding environment toward the arts by writing grants, and paying our talent with the proceeds.

Now I’m not suggesting our very dedicated and talented troupe of actors has been ‘amateurish’ in their work so far. Just the opposite. They have worked so hard for the IBRT, it’s time to recognize the fact that they’re professionals already, and reward them with a paycheck. They are professional, as far as I’m concerned, and I want the world to know that. Look forward to the coming season and the changes in store on the Icebox Radio Podcast.

Much more news lies ahead, so don’t forget to check this space. And as always, Keep Listening!