“Horace Kentucky’s Chronal Detective Agency” revives radio comedy
The art of radio drama isn’t lost—not yet, anyway. The engaging experience of visualizing a whole story and all the characters using only your mind and your ears can in fact be found right here in Chattanooga through the portal of local actor/author/producer Dakota Brown’s series “Horace Kentucky’s Chronal Detective Agency.” We asked Brown for the low-down on the comic sci-fi show.
The Pulse: Tell us a little about the inception and the evolution of the idea for the show.
Dakota Brown: The show began as a pitch for WUTC. After recording the first five-episode arc, we decided that the modern podcast format was perfect for us. Since then, our free episodes have appeared sporadically on iTunes. Eventually, I hope to make it a weekly upload.
TP: What genre of sci-fi would you say this falls into?
DB: Since our “world” is defined by a combination of science and imaginative possibilities, we haven’t been confined to a genre. One episode will explore genuine scientific theory, the next will be a paranormal scream fest, and the next will be a fantastic adventure of mermaids and their evil captors.
TP: How do you create your scripts and how much improv is involved?
DB: All of the podcasts begin in my “Marvel Comics” themed journal. While my writing history does come from my time at the improv institution that is Second City, I worry a bit about moments of improvisation steering our story in a different direction than I intend. But then again, in a world of time travel and fantasy, anything is possible.
TP: Are the episodes recorded or broadcast live? Are there sound effects? How are these created?
DB: All episodes are recorded using my mobile studio, [which] basically consists of a digital recorder, a mic, some headphones, and a quilt for echo control. There are multiple sound effects we rely on. Luckily, if we can’t create them ourselves, there are multiple free-to-use effect databases at the disposal of anyone with an Internet connection.
TP: Where do your actors come from and who are they?
DB: “Horace Kentucky’s Chronal Detective Agency” is and shall remain a Chattanooga original. As such, all of our actors are performers I’ve had the pleasure of working with locally. From Kevin Bartolomucci’s Winnie Wheatworth and Hunter Rodger’s Ranch Hand Rickey, to Marcia Parks’ NecroNancy and Andrew Woomer’s Roanoke Villager, each character exists only because of the Scenic City’s incredible talent.
TP: Can radio make a comeback as a real venue for fiction?
DB: In a dream I dare to dream, radio dramas and comedies force families to gather around the ol’ FM box and do something amazing for a few minutes: imagine. I believe in such an ideal, [but] I don’t deny it would take quite a movement.
Such a movement starts locally, spreads to other locales, and maybe (just maybe) a country can return to tickling its imagination as much as it does its funny bone. Podcasts are bringing the nation back to our media roots and may just spark an auditory renaissance.
TP: Give us a little dialogue from an episode.
DB: From our second episode—Queen Victoria helps Albert Einstein define his theories:
Are you looking at the clock, Albert?
I believe I am.
You are not. You are looking at the light that is being reflected from the clock. What you are seeing is an image microseconds in the past.
Because the speed of light is finite… yes! Then… then space and time…exist together as a single entity.
Interesting. I wonder if we affect spacetime as much as it does us. I suppose it must. We, as matter, occupy spacetime, therefore it must alter its existence to suit our presence. Should I write this down?
I think you should.
TP: When’s the next show, and where can people hear it?
DB: Our audience should look forward to an episodic arc where Andrew Jackson battles the Belle Witch (which has some actual historical founding), the adventures of Annie Oakley and the Nazi robots, and a series wherein Horace discovers that a somewhat well-known playwright known as “The Bard” has divulged a bit too much of the time traveler’s past in a newly discovered play.
People can find any of our episodes for free on iTunes, at our website horacekentucky.blogspot.com and on our Facebook page.