Interview: Bob Koester, Director of Companions

Interview took place on 01/04/2017. MB=Michael Bergonzi. BK: Bob Koester.

You can check out the review of his audio drama: Companions over at shortly after the 200th review celebration on the 29th of January. Check back here to get the link. Also be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook. And don’t forget, we have a Patreon.

MB: So, what sparked this story?

BK: The story began with the ending, sort of. I imagined a specific post-apocalyptic scenario basically like the one that Companions ends with, and then decided I wanted to get there by starting from before the apocalyptic event happened.

MB: Interesting. What was the hardest thing about writing this story?

BK: Probably capturing what makes the leads, Harry and Cailyn, fall in love. That’s a pretty big mystery in general, and as I say the original idea was more of a Big Picture Science Fiction thing. I kind of borrowed a trick from Shakespeare by having them already kind of like each other before the story begins, so they just need some incidents to become mutually aware of it.

MB: Yeah, one thing I noticed while listening was that the virus affecting everyone back on Earth sort of took a backseat to the romance. Speaking of that, was the idea of the simulation from the story’s inception or did you think of that later?

BK: Yeah, the love story definitely took over during the course of writing it. As to the simulation, I knew there’d be some sort of long-distance communication from the beginning, with some people far off and isolated in a classic sci-fi way. The simulations came in about halfway through, when I was looking for something that would require the characters to really invest in each other if they wanted to relate.

MB: So you were pretty set on the isolation aspect of the characters and didn’t want Harry and Kay to meet each other in real life. Why make this an audio drama?

BK: Well, it started first as a movie idea (I have a hobby of making short films), then I decided the setting made that too difficult, so I thought of making it a short novel. That’s when I came up with the character of CO, to be the narrator of the novel. But then I decided that the simulation sessions made it all very theatrical. They’re putting on a show for each other, and kind of living their relationship in scenes. It was actually put on as a one-day minimalist stage show. But then I decided as an audio drama I’d have great ability to use background noises and the like to indicate places and events to the audience.

MB: Interesting. I never would’ve pictured a simulation as theatrical. Were the actors in the same room when they recorded or was this all done remotely?

BK: All in one room. For a while it seemed like that wouldn’t be possible, but I’m glad it worked out that way.

MB: Cool. The structure of the narrative is less than traditional. What made you want to tell a story in such a non-linear and unconventional way when so many of the ideas in the story are difficult to grasp? The simulated Harry and Kay vs their real life counterparts and the technical jargon being the two main examples.

BK: Well let’s see. Telling it all as a story from a future point was a way of making that post-apocalyptic future kind of permeate it. It quickly became clear that I wasn’t going to spend a lot of time there, narratively, because the romance became so central, so I wanted a kind of developing sense that the events we were seeing had let to something else later. Even though the audience spends a lot of time not knowing exactly what that future was or exactly what the significance of these future characters could be.

As far as the audience picking up on the simulations vs. real-life people, that is a lot to ask and it was kind of a leap of faith in the audience. I think in a stage play there’d be ways to telegraph some of it, or I could have done the same by having the simulations have some sort of voice effect to differentiate them from the real people, but I decided the potential sense of accomplishment the audience would get from figuring it out themselves could be worth the risk.

In the YouTube version of the story, which has accompanying abstract computer graphics, I put in a hint about who is real and who’s a simulation in each scene, but less than half of people I ask pick up on it, and even they all had figured it out before they noticed the clue.

MB: Well, let me just get on record as being one of those confused listeners. You said this was originally a movie idea. Did you have trouble adapting for a medium without visuals?

BK: Um, I didn’t THINK I had trouble, I guess you’d be a better judge of the result. I did definitely have to make some changes. I drastically altered a scene because the early version had relied on visual cues and just using the way a play stage works. But in my head at least it seemed pretty natural once it changed. If challenging.

I’m sure I lean on a bunch of science fiction stuff that makes sense to me and doesn’t occur to me to explain. And pretty much every version had more and more explanation cut out because it can be kind of dead air if it’s not necessary.

Also some more basic stuff, like Harry telling Cailyn that she “sounds worried” rather than “looks worried”. Which is almost counter-intuitive but I liked the idea that the audience could judge for itself whether he was reading her rightly, rather than having to imagine what expression she had that was worrying him.

MB: I get that. I’m the same way with my own writing, never sure of how little information I’m actually giving the reader until someone actually experiences it. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. Are there any social media channels readers/listeners can find you at?

BK: You’re very welcome! I’m @hamletseries on twitter. Companions is on Facebook at, and I have a blog at that is currently dominated by Companions-related stuff, including ways to listen to or download it.

Endurance: The Complete Epic Series (1-6)

Endurance Cover Art
Author Picture

Produced by Word of Mouth Productions, Endurance is a space opera on the surface, but not at its core. Using the tools of other science fiction before it, the creators of Endurance go wide, rather than deep into their story. The result is a cast of characters who might as well be complete strangers and an episodic structure promising one thing, but giving something else (for good or ill).

The first episode has its social stigma in the portrayal of Choi, a tech-savy asian business tycoon with a stereotypical accent. It's not as bad as stuff from the forties and fifties, but you'd be hard pressed not to roll your eyes at the voice.

By the time episode five rolls around, you have a general idea of where the overall arc of the story is headed. Executed almost like the first Avengers film in which each character is introduced in a creative and interesting way, the first half of the series acts as both a mystery and "page turner."

Each episode is standalone, focusing on a single character and having a full arc. Some pack more of an action vibe, while others are quiet moments. Episode five is perhaps the most emotional scene, dealing with issues like assisted suicide in a believable and almost heartbreaking way. The first episode is a Die Hard-type adventure with very little internal conflict. Episode six is a perfect blend of the two and offers a nice midseason finale for the series.

Endurance manages to be its own thing and still pack a punch episode to episode. Some are hit or miss, but the scope of the project is something to be marveled.

Expect the remaining six episodes shortly after the 200th review of We're Alive Season Three goes live on January 29, 2017. Plus a little something extra.

Michael L Bergonzi    Website   

Press Release: UK International Radio Drama Festival 2017

Submissions are now open for the 3rd UK International Radio Drama Festival (UKIRDF) that takes place in the historic seaside town of Herne Bay between February 20th-25th, the submission deadline is 31st December 2016.

Through a local FM broadcast the festival airs a variety of radio dramas from across the world, in their native languages, over the course of the festival. Once the dramas have been aired FM audiences will be able to listen to the shows again via our website.

As well as featuring in the festival we are also honoured to be able to have two awards, £2,000 for feature drama and £750 for short drama and there is also a Public Award of £750 voted for from our listeners both online and on air.

What makes the UKIRDF so unique is that we are the biggest international radio drama festival in the UK. The 2016 festival had over 60 submissions from all over the world which enabled the creative team to programme 30 feature programmes and 10 shorts over the festival period.

We aim to truly champion the power of that radio drama continues to play in the lives of audiences and to further this the UKIRDF theme is From Stage To Air, more information on this can be found in the Festival Regulations.

UKIRDF remains a free festival to submit to and we welcome radio dramas from national broadcasters, professional bodies and independent producers.

You can check out their website here. Or, if you’re interested in submitting, download and fill out the form.

The Fairy Tree Review (Zane)

Listening Order

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 13
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 18


The Fairy Tree is a role-playing audio drama with a choose-your-own-path narrative. Unlike Michael did in his last review, I’ve decided to be bold and jump down Alice’s rabbit hole into a wacky, yet charming adventure.

For starters, the production of The Fairy Tree is incredibly admirable. The voice actors are marvellous and completely transform one-dimensional side kicks and villains into full-fledged adventurers. The background noises fall nothing short of amazing.

However, it has a lot more beauty than substance for most of it. One may not feel immersed into the world much due to the very short episodes which can be from 3 to 8 minutes long and it breaks all tension and pacing. Perhaps if the episodes were a little longer, this would not be an issue. Also, a listener will not feel like they are important to the overall story because (the HERO) doesn’t do anything besides choose between only two options. I would recommend that there were more directions that one could choose.

As Michael has also stated, there are really no consequences for the “decisions” one makes. I felt like I was heavily detached from what was happening. There are no witty dialogue options for you to choose, nor the actual consequences of your actions as the narrator just tells you what you have done. In the end, it felt like a nice little getaway to a new world, but now I have to go back to work at the fish-canning factory.

3/5 Stars

Press Release: Tales of a Time Lord

December 2016

Tales Of A Timelord: A brand new science fiction audio drama for the extended Whoniverse.

“Slick and fun, in the best traditions of radio sci-fi.” – Roger Dubar ( / Huffington Post UK)

Taking listeners on a journey through a brand new companion’s eyes, Tales Of A Timelord tells the story of the Doctor somewhere near his 20th regeneration.

Tales Of A Timelord is produced by TOATL Audio, an independent UK creative group working towards universal fame.

“The dialogue is light and fun, the world well-realised and full of detail, the char…acters distinct it’s good and accomplished work and full of potential.”
– Simon Guerrier (Big Finish Productions, Co-Author of ‘Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who’)

“Probably one of the best pieces of fan fiction I’ve ever heard.” – Theta Sigma’s Doctor Who Podcast

Tales Of A Timelord is now available to download on iTunes, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and can be viewed on YouTube.



More information available at


Tales Of A Timelord ( ) is a brand new science fiction audio drama for the extended Whoniverse. The audio drama takes its listeners on a journey through a brand new companion’s eyes with the Doctor somewhere near his 20th regeneration.

Written by R. R. Molyneux
Soundscaped, Directed and Produced by Invokal Music by Merlin

Starring: Invokal as The Doc / Hattie Snooks as Maria The Tour Guide / Lucy Jones as The Entity/ Alex Lynch as Reinhart the Medic. Guest starring: Justin K. Hayward as Captain Stewart.

A Choose your Own Audio Adventure: The Fairy Tree (Michael)

Author Picture

Listening Order

Chapter 1
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 12
Chapter 15
Chapter 17


The Fairy Tree is a choose your own adventure story done in an audio drama format. Since there are multiple routes you can take, this review will follow the path outlined above. This playthrough  erred on the side of being a kind, magical character and not fighting head on when you playing it smart can get you far. Call it my cautious personality.

The production value is top notch and worth the money you pay for it, assuming this style of story intrigues you. The adventure is short lived. At least for the path taken by me. Check out Zane's review for a different perspective and route taken through this fantasy adventure.

Headphones are key to experiencing the full effect of this audio drama. While it's not technically 3D as far as I can tell, it is highly immersive. That sense of being enveloped from both sides separates The Fairy Tree from free or even other paid productions. Again the price of admission is worth every penny.

It goes without saying that your mileage will vary. Not just because of the subjective nature of art, but due to the simple fact that your journey will be different from someone else's. Of course there's the caveat of limited combinations and permutations of plot events. Nowhere is this more clear, than when you're essentially given a redo for a decision you made early on in the story.

That's by far the biggest problem with this audio drama. It doesn't warrant repeat listens and there's no real sense of consequence for the actions you choose.

Michael L. Bergonzi   

Flushed with Love Review

Borrowing from the golden age of radio and over-the-top cigarette ads, Flushed With Love is a fresh and comical take on the 1930’s gangster adventure drama, full of action, love, and fish guts.

Instead of an excruciatingly detailed plot, it decides to shot itself with a machine gun and bandage it’s holes with priceless zaniness. It is straightforward and easy to understand, but the narrative is far from uninteresting. The tale of a fishmonger and his wife getting involved in the mafia is a brilliant idea and one full of opportunities to tell jokes. One cannot take this overly seriously.

The voice actors are great in their roles and add a lot of personality. Their characters are wacky, insane people living in a Great Depression era and they pull them off admirably. The original musical score is astounding and captures the vibe of 30s jazz. The sound design in general is amazingly detailed and precise, which compliments it’s audacious tone. However, what really sells the show is it’s advertisements, which are some of the funniest I’ve ever heard.

This show holds itself to a very high standard of comedy. At times, however, the comedy can seem a little reference-heavy and rather than engross the audience into its setting, it just reminds the audience of other media. It blatantly breaks the fourth wall several times, which can be a little jarring. Some people might not mind some of the very obvious references, so in that case, you might find this funny all the way through. The simplest way to describe the humor is that when it hits, it hits hard. But when it doesn’t hit about 5% of the time, it’s almost painfully noticed.

Overall, Flushed With Love is a great radio show that feels and sounds straight out of a Three Stooges episode. It’s impeccable comedic timing, hilarious references, superb voice acting, and spectacular sound design makes this a must-see if you have any appreciation for compelling storytelling.

4.75/5 Stars

Jack Flanders: Dreams of Rio, Week One

Author Picture

Part of Tom Lopez's "Jack Flanders" series, Dreams of Rio has heavy emphasis on the setting, rather than the actors. Judging by how quiet some of their lines are and how overpowering the background sounds are, it seems Mr. Lopez was going for something a bit different than the standard character-based audio dramas.

That combined with what seems like random, but authentic noises, recorded from actual places in Latin America makes the first half of this production feel almost too real. A classic case of truth being stranger than fiction. Fun fact, Mr. Lopez travelled to Rio de Janeiro & the Amazon to record the soundscape for this particular story.

Not only is Mr. Lopez raising the bar for ambience in audio dramas by essentially location scouting (The Cleansed comes to mind as well), he is also a bit of an entrepreneur. While some people may find issues with how he distributes his shows, the Jack Flanders series, as well as hundreds of other audio entertainment can be streamed for a small monthly fee. Rather than going the direct download route, Mr. Lopez is providing a Netflix-type service for his art. Something which some creatives tend to shy away from as it feels too corporate or

Mr. Lopez's company "ZBS Media" has over 238 hours of audio entertainment. Those not interested in paying the monthly streaming fee can get this and other shows for a one-time cost of around $25, depending on the show. The site is (download) and can also be found on (streamed).

After listening to the first episode, the desire to hear how the story unfolds is almost pathological. Luckily ZBS Media has a 7 day free trial period where you can listen to all of his audio dramas. Something, which is recommended after you hear the ending of the first episode.

Michael L. Bergonzi   

Press Release: The Good Listener


A new 3 part radio drama from Holy Mountain is a highly authentic portrayal of life inside GCHQ.

BBC Radio 4

Monday 31st October at 1415

Tuesday 1st November at 1415

Wednesday 2nd November at 1415


Listen to the trailer:


The Good Listener is the result of a long and detailed research process undertaken by its creators, writer Fin Kennedy and director Boz Temple-Morris, into the doings of GCHQ, the spy agency responsible for cyber security and digital operations. This is the third outing for the production after one-off radio dramas in 2014 and 2015. During this time Fin and Boz have consulted professionals and experts from all sides, even gaining access to GCHQ itself. Their enquiry has been wide ranging, looking at day to day life inside the ‘doughnut’ as well as the operations themselves and the political context.


This story begins a reluctant Henry Morcombe and his team are preparing to listen in to the G20 conference of world leaders. A cyber-attack is detected that targets the electricity network across London – not unusual in itself, but this one is remarkable in its complexity and resilience. Clearly a major attack is about to unfold. This could be a terrorist act, a criminal one or even an attack sponsored by a nation state. The team need to find the source and neutralise the threat before blackouts bring chaos and major casualties.


Cyber-crime targeting critical infrastructure remains an issue of serious concern to guardians of national security around the world. Highly secretive projects exist not only to defend against such attacks but also to use them offensively against nation state targets.


Owen Teale (Game of Thrones, and currently appearing with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in No Mans Land) stars as Henry Morcombe, an old school GCHQ agent who is fighting from within to keep the agency from becoming like their USA counterparts, NSA, whom he considers to be data-hungry and militaristic.


Holy Mountain are known for innovative productions that are rich in sound and also for tackling serious issues with rigour and balance. See below.


Director and Producer Boz Temple-Morris;

“We’re telling a really good story about normal people trying to do an abnormal job. The work of GCHQ is so central to the way we live today – and vital to our national security – and yet so little little is known about what they do and how they do it. Should we be more grateful for the protection they offer us or more angry at the liberties they take with our privacy? Maybe both? The Good Listener takes the audience inside the doughnut but lets them judge what’s happening for themselves.”


The Good Listener is created by Fin Kennedy and Boz Temple-Morris and also features the work of Hassan Abdulrazzak (writer, part 2) and Anders Lustgarten (writer, part 3).


Return Home (Episodes 1.1-7.3)

Return Home is simply an experience. Very few podcasts I’ve listened to in my long history of reviewing audio dramas (a whole three months!) have elicited such an emotional response. This is storytelling at its absolute finest.

The simple, yet charming adventures of Jonathan Barker, Amy Reynolds, and Buddy Nutters in the decrescent, strange town of Melancholy Falls is mesmerizing. It’s truly a testament to say that were-bunnies is not the strangest thing they encounter.

As Rod Serling would tell you, iconic music is important if you want to grab the audience’s attention and draw them closer to the screen. Or…iPod. The music is top-notch, blending a spine-chilling cola with a loud pianoforte smoothie to create an instrumental that embodies the weirdness of Melancholy Falls. As for the background effects, it is hyper-realistic. It can make one feel like they are right next to a creepy ghoul or Buddy’s toe-jam.

There’s a reason why Return Home has been nominated in 16 different categories at the Audio Verse Awards. Everyone who has worked on the podcast is extremely passionate about their work, which shows with its flawless execution.

Return Home achieves something that audiences are not accustomed to: perfection. It’s one of those rare instances where if this was made to be a movie, it would pale in comparison to the audio version. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Return Home with it’s original story, inspiring and believable characters, it’s superb sound design, and the allure of wanting more.   

You cannot just listen to one episode and stop. It’s as if there was something in the frequency that will make you come back for more…

As Jonathan Barker would tell you, “Let’s go find the weird!”