S13E6: A 1930s Style Detective Radio Serial: Create Your Own!

I’ve been contemplating this idea for a while and last episode’s mention of this idea has fired me up to outline the process for creating a radio play season. I’ve used the 1930s Detective genre as a starting point for this post. If you think creating such a season appeals, email me, link in the show notes.

In the heyday of 1930s radio, detective serials captured the imagination of listeners with their gripping plots and memorable characters. The airwaves were filled with the suspenseful tales of hard-boiled detectives and femme fatales. Let’s explore how to create and broadcast a ten-episode podcast season that pays homage to this classic genre.

Setting the Stage

The first step in crafting your podcast season is to develop a captivating plotline that will keep listeners eagerly tuning in week after week. Think of the intrigue, the twists and the turns that defined classic detective stories of the past. From unsolved mysteries to nefarious villains, the possibilities are endless. This is where a day program hub could make use of the talents of their clients. Once a safe, creative space is created, clients will feel free to contribute to character development, plot ideas and scripting. Scripting covers everything from the initial idea through outlines to episode scripts. Other skills to be discovered are sound effects, musical ability and artwork.

Building Characters with Depth

No detective story would be complete without a cast of memorable characters. Take the time to flesh out each character’s backstory, motivations and quirks. From the hard-nosed detective with a troubled past to the seductive femme fatale with a hidden agenda, every character should feel multidimensional and real. Work in red herrings characters who come across as suspicious but aren’t to partners and maybe children. This portion of the program may require some time to set the scene with clients undertaking their own reading, YouTubing and audiobook listening to workshop potential characters. This could be a task for the whole group or a subset of clients whilst another subset works on the plot. 

Creating an Atmospheric Setting

Transporting your listeners to the gritty streets and dimly lit alleys of a 1930s noir setting is essential for setting the mood of your podcast. Use descriptive narration and immersive sound effects to paint a vivid picture of the world your characters inhabit. From the sounds of bustling city streets to the ominous creaking of old buildings, every detail helps to enhance the listener’s experience. The art of soundscaping may require some professional input. There are podsafe sound effects libraries available. Equally, creating these from scratch would be a fun project in itself.

Crafting Compelling Scripts

With the stage set and the characters in place, it’s time to start writing your scripts. Keep the dialogue snappy and the pacing brisk to maintain the tension and excitement of your story. Don’t be afraid to throw in a few red herrings or unexpected plot twists to keep listeners guessing. This is the opportunity for people to speak and write beyond their diagnosis. The words matter in a script, obviously, and their creative origin is open to all in the group. Having a leader from within the group who keeps the scripts on target would be a good idea but the opportunity for the unheard members of our community to be heard is huge.

I’ll just jump in here, if you’re interested in starting or even re-starting a show that’s podfaded, jump over to jmps.au and watch the video “Dreamer to Podcaster”. The first five people to sign up for the JMPS Group Coaching Program will receive a $300 a month discount, so jump in and join the fun.

Back to the episode:

Bringing Your Story to Life

Once your scripts are finalised, it’s time to bring your story to life through recording. Choosing the right person for each character is a critical stage of the process. The recording tricks discussed in episode 4 of season 13  will allow the process to include as many people as possible. They don’t even have to be in the same room at the same time. Surely enough, synergies occur when they are but it’s not a necessity. Remember, though, to capture the energy and emotion of each scene to keep listeners engaged from start to finish.

Adding the Finishing Touches

After recording, it’s time to add the finishing touches to your episodes. Take the time to carefully edit your audio files, removing any mistakes or inconsistencies. Enhance the atmosphere of your podcast with the addition of music and sound effects that complement the tone of your story. Again this can be a collaborative effort and again, make sure any music and sound effects are podsafe and you either hold the copyright or need to acknowledge the holder under creative commons licences. 

Creating Eye-Catching Cover Art

Striking artwork, whilst useful and often obsessed over by the new podcaster, is an essential requirement for Apple Podcasts Connect and several versions with different sizings are required for YouTube Music Podcasts. The artwork should grab the attention of potential listeners but don’t fret over on this.  Channelling the aesthetic of vintage pulp fiction covers with bold typography, moody lighting and iconic imagery that captures the essence of your podcast could be an option.

Planning Your Release Schedule and Promoting Your Podcast

Once your episodes are ready to go, it’s time to plan your release schedule. Release episodes on a weekly basis to keep listeners engaged and coming back for more. Don’t forget to build anticipation with teaser trailers and sneak peeks leading up to the release of each episode. Make use of email lists, socials and word of mouth to get the message out there.

Engaging with Your Audience

Foster a sense of community among your listeners by responding to feedback and questions. Host live events or Q&A sessions to connect with your audience on a deeper level. Consider creating a dedicated space for fans to discuss your podcast and interact with one another such as a Facebook group or page. Have live Zoom specials with different teams involved in the process so fans can interact, ask questions and provide ideas for future seasons.


Creating and broadcasting a ten-episode podcast season inspired by 1930s detective radio serials is a labour of love that requires careful planning, attention to detail and a passion for storytelling. By following these steps, you can craft a compelling narrative that transports listeners to another time and place where mysteries abound and danger lurks around every corner. This is a project with so many upsides for a disability service, I can’t believe it hasn’t already happened. The genre can change, the ten episodes could be an annual event bringing together acting, art, writing and technical programs to create a thing of wonder.  So grab your fedora and trench coat and let’s make this happen!

And that concludes season13 on the ways podcasting can be used to smash the ableist paradigm. I’ll be back in a week or so with season 14 on how a disability service’s podcast builds brand awareness for the organisation.