Audio Drama, Sci-fi

Local radio gets super-powered in ‘On Patrol’

You can’t throw a super-stick without hitting someone with powers in Antaean City. Odds are you yourself probably have super stick-throwing powers. This is the backdrop for recently re-released audio fiction series On Patrol with The Broadcaster.

On Patroltakes the classic single-host local morning news radio show and makes the inspired choice to embrace the inherent cheesiness baked into local radio. There’s one particular commercial for a charity event hosted by Car Wash Man. The intro and outro of the ad feature a jingle with not-quite-on-key singers.

In a normal audio drama I’d shrug off the singing and say “hey, they’re out there trying, good on them” but in the context of a local business’ commercial on a local radio station, it feels right. I can’t tell you how many radio jingles in my area smack of “I paid my brother’s kids $50 to sing into a cheap mic back in 2006. It still works perfectly fine.”

Other highlights include the in-studio guest, the moment when the titular Broadcaster gets to flex his super-broadcasting powers interviewing local movers and shakers. The first episode features guest Sonic Boom, a local 20-something with the power of flight ready to publicly call out a local pizza magnate for discriminatory hiring practices. Supposedly the beloved super-pizza producer only hires those with super-speed, leaving teleporters and flyers out in the cold.

The jokes come thick and fast, but are just subtle enough that the pop culture references don’t become Meet The Spartans-level obnoxious. Such as the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Kurt Vonnegut deep cut when The Broadcaster mentions local expert “Dr. Harry Bergeron”, or when Sonic Boom recalls his super speedster pizza delivery guy (Barry) was replaced by “some kid named Wally.”

This moment-to-moment humor is where On Patrol shines. I’m a sucker for serialized fiction that rewards loyal listeners without punishing newcomers who might not start from the beginning. While it’s usually common practice in audio fiction to start from the pilot, On Patrol’s structure sets it up to be a nice gateway from nonfiction/terrestrial radio.

On Patrol’s refreshing spin on the trope of podcast art featuring microphones.

Season one was originally released in 2017 before the show was pulled/remastered, so I’ve technically heard all of the first season. Without spoiling anything, I will say there is an overarching plot woven into the quirky ads and guest speaker segments that comes to a rather humorous and satisfying climax. But it’s done in such a way that doesn’t punish one for starting anywhere other than episode one. Everything’s so buck-wild in Antaean City it’s impossible to tell a callback to a previous episode from a one-off gag if you’re not in the know.

The first two of the first season’s six are now available. As of this writing the show seems to be still getting on its feet. The website (cityofantaean dot com) plugged in the outro leads to a defunct page, the Twitter and Reddit accounts haven’t been posting for a few months, and there’s next to no information on their Odd Audio page.

On Patrol with The Broadcaster feels like it has the concept, writing, and acting to become a well-loved podcast in due time but lacks some of the basics one expects from a show with this much polish. A cast page, transcripts, and a dedicated website (free or paid) to find episodes/information go a long way in increasing discoverablity. These things aren’t pass/fail requirements to run a fiction show, but in 2019 it’d be far better SEO than the first three results on Google being an effectively useless iTunes page and two SoundCloud links.

Fingers crossed this go-around for season one fares better, I would love to see what the show is capable of once it has a full head of stream built up. As well as experience new episodes! On Patrol with the Broadcaster can be found on iTunes and their SoundCloud page. Their Twitter is @CityofAntaean

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