The Atlanta Radio Theatre Company was founded in 1984 by radio personality William L. Brown and actor/director Patrick Stansbury. They incorporated ARTC as a non-profit educational corporation, dedicated to the production and distribution of quality audio drama.
To procure funding, Mr. Stansbury persuaded the Citizens and Southern National Bank (as it was then known, later part of NationsBank, now Bank of America) to sponsor a weekly, one hour program on WGST-AM -- and Mr. Brown turned his spare bedroom into a recording studio. Atlanta playwright Thomas E. Fuller (now better known as one of the authors of Wishbone books for young readers) was enlisted as principal writer, and numerous actors from the local theatrical community joined this exciting new venture.
Soon, program production became too complicated for a small bedroom studio. Henry Howard, owner of Audio Craft, made his facility available to ARTC and came on board as a producer. ARTC produced a full 13 week schedule for WGST in summer of 1984.
From WGST, ARTC moved that Fall to WABE-FM, the local Public Radio station, and ran a full season of thirteen shows.
In 1985, the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company produced the Southernaire Workshop for Peach State Public Radio. Most of these programs were produced either live or "as live" in the Peach State studios.
Up to this point, all of ARTC's programming had been produced in the studio, without an audience. In summer of 1987, we began a long and rewarding association with Dragon*Con, which has become the largest science fiction, fantasy, and horror convention in the country. ARTC premiered Gerald W. Page's adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulhu," live on stage at Dragon*Con's first convention, beginning a series of adaptations of the works of Lovecraft. Our best known tape, "The Rats in the Walls" starring Harlan Ellison, is a part of this series.
ARTC continues to perform radio theatre at Dragon*Con and several other science fiction conventions each year. Our continuing presence there has sustained us, exposing audio drama to new audiences, and has attracted a new generation of performers and writers to the group.
In 1987, ARTC introduced the Centauri Express Audio Magazine. Containing two science fiction stories, a review of other audio products, and news of interest to the SF audience, five issues were produced and sold at B. Daltons and other book stores before production was discontinued. The magazine was published on a ninety minute cassette with a four color art cover. The Centauri Express received start-up funding from Confederation, the 1986 World Science Fiction Convention, held in Atlanta. ARTC continues to publish dramatic works today as single titles and offers a growing catalog to choose from.
In 1987, ARTC found a new broadcast home on WGKA-AM, a commercial Atlanta arts station, and presented a summer series of thirteen one-hour programs.
Beginning in 1992, we experienced a steady influx of new talent from the science fiction fan community, many of whom were already exploring amateur theater through the Mighty Rassilon Art Players, an outgrowth of "Doctor Who" fandom. Although MRAP continues to exist and perform stage theater as a separate entity, many of its talented actors and writers also provide new energy to ARTC productions.
In 1993 and 94, the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company began performing live audio theater in a coffee house in the Little Five Points district in Atlanta. This theater experience allowed for the development of new writers, gave the actors more radio experience, and allowed for experimentation with new formats and styles. Several new program series from the coffee house are being considered for studio production, including Bumpers Crossroads, The Crimson Hawk, and Rory Rammer, Space Marshal.
In 1993, Mr. Brown began working with the Pump House Players in Cartersville, Georgia, bringing that group into the family of radio drama.
In late 1994 and early 1995, Georgia Tech's student station WREK-FM aired fifteen half-hours under the umbrella title of Your Radio Rialto. ARTC returned to WREK in 2000 as part of The Audio Theater Hour.
Also in 1995, ARTC's first web page was born. This makes us ancient in web years.
In May 1996, continuing to explore new venues, we made our first appearance at the Decatur Arts Festival with our adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde." ARTC appeared on stage at Eddie's Attic, a restaurant and sought-after venue for live local music, near the Decatur square. We have been a proud participant in the Festival ever since.
In late 1996 and 1997, we appeared monthly at Eddie's Attic, with a reprise and expansion of our familiar coffeehouse material. The short plays that eventually became "An Atlanta Christmas" appeared in this venue.
We also began our relationship with Mrs Virginia Heinlein, who has graciously allowed us to produce adaptations of the works of the grand master of science fiction, Robert A. Heinlein. Our first was "The Menace from Earth", which premiered at Necronomicon in October 1996, then was reprised at Dragon*Con the next year as the first of our annual Heinlein Project productions.
The Seeing Ear Theater, the audio drama arm of the Sci-Fi Channel, chose six of our productions to help initiate their archives of contemporary radio drama. They were "The Dunwich Horror", "The Invisible Man", "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde", "At the Mountains of Madness", "Chronos Beach", and heard only on Hallowe'en weekend, "The Brides of Dracula".
Since its founding, the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company has produced more than 60 programs, broadcasting throughout Georgia and on stations like WRHU in Long Island, New York, WBAI in New York, in Minneapolis and other scattered outlets. It has featured scripts by Atlanta playwright Thomas E. Fuller and such other established writers as Gerald W. Page, J. Eugene Green, Gregory Nicoll, Jerry Ahern, Brad Linaweaver, Brad Strickland and Zeke Segal.
Over the years, various members of ARTC have participated in or taught classes for various workshops, including the MidWest Radio Theatre Workshop and its successor organization National Audio Theater Festivals, The Himan Brown Workshop at the University of Georgia, and in Macon and Cartersville, Georgia. Our writers continue to teach radio drama writing at science fiction conventions around the country.
The Atlanta Radio Theatre Company continues working to keep the fine art form of radio drama alive and well, and continues to produce dramatic audio for sale.
This history created by a variety of hands, culled from many sources by Henry Howard, and most recently added to and edited by Daniel Taylor. For detailed year-by-year highlights, see Chronology.