Mystery, miners, and a healthy dose of Old West drama are coming to Hillsdale’s airwaves soon.
Hibiscus Productions, a new student organization dedicated to radio drama, held auditions Saturday to cast their first radio drama, “The Law-Giver,” a western. The production group, organized through Radio Free Hillsdale 101.7 FM, plans to act as a parent organization to help produce student dramas and bring conservative ideas to the entertainment medium.
“The point of the organization is to be a platform,” Shadrach Strehle said. “Our goal as an organization is not necessarily to be the writers of this content but to make it happen.”
Hibiscus Productions wants to “make it happen” two to three times a semester and air their first show by the end of the month. It’s a goal Scot Bertram, general manager of WRFH 1017 FM, called, “slightly aggressive but not crazy.”
Even though it’s hard work, the students said they feel it’s also important work.
“Part of being conservative isn’t just holding onto things of the past, ideals and truths, even if they are…universal truths,” said junior Quentin Herman, composer for the production. “You have an obligation to take those truths and present them again and again. Being conservative is a very creative thing. Progress doesn’t belong to liberals, so to speak. We need to reclaim the arts, to have substantial ideology behind our creative projects.”
This creative project started with the advent of the Dow Journalism Program’s radio station. When the radio program began, ideas for radio dramas were some of the first suggestions made, Bertram said.
It wasn’t until the fall, however, that everything began coming together.
“I had told Mr. Bertram, right at the beginning of last semester, I really wanted to do something in radio drama,” said junior Sarah Schutte, one of the show’s producers.
That same semester, Tripepi and Herman approached sophomores Dylan and Shadrach Strehle with their idea for a “spaghetti western” radio drama — a genre known for its classically cheesy style.
Schutte joined forces with the Strehles, Tripepi, and Herman to form Hibiscus Productions. It’s a new step for the radio program, one made primarily through the efforts of students.
“It really moved along organically,” Bertram said. “It’s nice to see students have taken it upon themselves to move it from idea to, soon, actual product.”
Taking place in the town of Solon, the Hibsicus Production’s first story follows Sheriff Aaron Blackstone as he goes head-to-head with the stubborn owner of a mine that collapsed with men inside.
“There’s a lot of tension between the sheriff and the mine owner,” said junior Michael Tripepi, who wrote the script. “I think the ending will be a little bit of a shock.”
Although Hibiscus’ first episode is a western, the content and genre will vary from show to show.
“We know that is a desire; people want to be a part of it,” Shadrach Strehle said. “There was definitely a desire, a demand for something. Giving students the tools to fill that desire is why we sprung up.”