Everything you are about to read is true.
When I was eleven, my dad gave me an old tape recorder with a black leatherette cover, the size of a Stephen King hardcover. It was big and bulky and looked a lot like a tri-corder from Star Trek.
I already knew I wanted to be a writer. My best, previous gift had been an old Smith-Corona typewriter that I wrote poetry on. Now I had a new way to tell stories.
My best friend, Stephen Huckabay and I used that big tape recorder to make our own radio show: WKRP in Sacramento. We were hardly inventive with the name but the format was much weirder. Lots of strange improvised shows and fake commercials, interspersed with popular 80’s music DJ’d by holding the tape recorder up to the radio. We made it for an audience of one — each other — and we copied and traded the cassettes with each other like mix-tapes.
That’s where I first fell in love with radio.
When I was about sixteen we moved into a house my parents built. We had none of the furniture ready, so I slept on the wooden floor in a sleeping bag with my radio next to me as the only source of sound and light. Some late night college radio DJ started playing Ruby – The Adventures of a Galactic Gumshoe.
Ruby was action-packed and zany and also deeply philosophical – nothing like old time radio shows, and like nothing I had ever heard. It was hearing a modern podcast long before podcasting was invented. Please check it out — It’s amazing (Tom Lopez, the creator, is still a major influence in my work). EDIT: You can subscribe and listen to Ruby now. It’s being re-released as a podcast!
I used my allowance to buy the entire Ruby series from ZBS studios and listened to it until I had so memorized it, I could improvise a lot of the voices (especially the obsessed archaeologist TJ Teru, and the ever-shady R.F. Kapoor). That’s where I fell head over heels in love with audio drama.
It was like the time I spent with my nose buried in a book, except the characters were whispering in my ears like old friends. I dreamed of making audio stories the same way I wanted to write novels. But barring owning your own radio station, the technology to do it back then seemed impossibly distant and expensive.
I started conceiving Point Mystic back in 2013 (earlier than that really, before the story became clear). Back then it had the working title “The Magical Reality”. I’ve been working hard the last several years, taking time from novel writing to develop the world and story ideas for Point Mystic and learn how to make radio.
But if you want a beginning to this story, this all really started when I gave my eleven year old step-son, ‘Fox’, a tape recorder and told him to go out and make radio with his friends. I was in the middle of launching Point Mystic, and one of the things I wanted to do was to encourage and inspire others to go make art together. He dove right in and fell in love with it, the way I did. That’s how he got involved with the story for the “White Rabbit” episodes.
Believe it or not, the strange wooden structures in story actually exist, and they are built by the kids of this coastal town (though there aren’t a hundred of them, and, thankfully, there is no black gate). The giant white rabbit with tentacles and dragon wings and very sharp teeth — that’s all Fox’s imagination completely improvised on tape. Capturing it was a matter of chasing him around with a microphone and writing the story around it. That kid is pure imagination. He reminds me so much of his mother, and my wife, Marguerite who has also been instrumental in helping me develop the show and write the stories.
I had no idea how long this very first story in the series was going to go (four parts it seems). Like when I’m writing a novel, I can see the destination, but I’m discovering a lot of it as I go along. Fox is excited to collaborate in some future episodes too.
And as for Point Mystic — there is a lot more to this than you (or I) know yet. Point Mystic is more than just a radio show picked faintly from the static of some other world. It’s community. It’s people making art together. It is, I hope, a light of hope and magic standing against the darkness of all worlds.
I haven’t found the bottom of this rabbit hole that you and I are falling through. I don’t think there is one. I’m trusting it’s Wonderland all the way down.