Old radio shows have already been reborn as podcasts, as demonstrated by the revival of the National Lampoon Radio Hour as a podcast. Now two classic radio drama series are being re-released as podcasts. ZBS Media has published The Fourth Tower of Inverness, a radio show that aired in 1972, and Moon Over Morocco, which aired in 1974.
“There’s a new generation of listeners excited by fiction podcasts and audiobooks who are hungry for a more cinematic and inspiring experience,” says Jacob Smith, Director of Northwestern University’s MA in Sound Arts, and author of a recent article about ZBS. “ZBS’s archive is a treasure trove of ear-opening sound design and creative storytelling.” Smith thinks the timing is perfect for ZBS’s offerings: “During this difficult global pandemic when travel is restricted, public entertainment options are limited, and our eyes are tired from screens, there’s no better time for the theater of the mind,” he said.
In addition to the old radio series, ZBS has released The Incredible Adventures of Jack Flanders, which it describes as an immersive audio adventure that begins when a mysterious green velvet armchair becomes a portal to fantastical landscapes and realms of inner consciousness. It has also released Ruby the Galactic Gumshoe, a sci-fi and comedy mashup.
ZBS Media was founded in 1970 — with ZBS standing for “zero bulls**t” — out of a farmhouse in upstate New York. Its first series was The Fourth Tower of Inverness, which was financially backed by Jefferson Airplane’s record label, Grunt Records. The show aired on 430 radio stations, according to the company. The show featured “metaphysical journeys” of Jack Flanders in a mix of Golden Age radio drama and New Age philosophies.
With radio dramas mostly a thing of the past, ZBS Media created a streaming subscription service in 2016 that offers hundreds of hours of ZBS’s audio content. The release of its first podcasts are free samples in a way, to help promote that paid service. It also marks the company’s 50th anniversary.