There was a time -- and yes, it was before I was born -- that in the evenings families would gather around the radio to listen to drama and comedy programs. Television came along and the addition of images all but killed audio plays.
A few still exist as in the case of the "L.A. Theatre Works" series recently added to the KFCF (FM 88.1) schedule at 7 p.m. Sundays. L.A. Theatre Works is a nonprofit media arts organization that has presented classic and contemporary plays on the radio for more than 25 years. Upcoming broadcasts include Lydia Diamond's "Stick Fly," Arthur Giron's "Moving Bodies" and Lee Blessing's "Going to St. Ives."
"I'm real excited about the 'L.A. Theater Works' program. It's been a great series of programs, of both classic and contemporary material," says Rychard Withers, executive director of the Fresno Free College Foundation.
Sunday's broadcast is one of the most impressive in the program's long history. An all-star cast, under the direction of Rob Reiner, presents "8."
The radio play, written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black ("Milk"), deals with Proposition 8, passed by Californians to ban same-sex marriage.
The production, recorded before a live audience at the Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles on March 3, was staged by the American Foundation for Equal Rights and Broadway Impact.
The radio play is based on court transcripts of the case filed by the American Federation for Equal Rights in the U.S. District Court in 2010 to overturn Proposition 8.
The cast includes George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Martin Sheen, Kevin Bacon, Jamie Lee Curtis, Christine Lahti, John C. Reilly, Jane Lynch, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Matthew Morrison, Yeardley Smith, Matt Bomer and George Takei.
Clovis East graduate and "Glee" star Chris Colfer is the voice of Ryan Kendall, who testified about knowing he was gay at a young age and the horrors of experiencing reparative therapy as a teen.
Listening to a radio show is nothing like seeing events unfold on screen. In this case, the words are so important that the lack of images will not lessen the impact.
Awards time: There are probably a few nervous people at local TV stations. The "41st Northern California Area Emmy Awards" will be presented Saturday in San Francisco.
KFTV (Channel 21.1) dominated local television stations with 12 nominations. KSEE (Channel 24.1) picked up five nominations, while KFSN (Channel 30.1) and KGPE (Channel 47.1) earned one nomination apiece.
The San Francisco/Northern California region is one of 20 chapters awarding regional Emmys. It covers television and cable stations from Visalia to the Oregon border and includes Hawaii and Reno.
Will this be win number five? Don't forget to watch the Tony Awards telecast that will air at 8 p.m. Sunday on KFSN (Channel 47.1) Fresno's Audra McDonald is in the running for a Tony for her work in the new adaptation of "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess." A win in the best actress category would be her first, as McDonald's other four wins were for featured performances.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, email@example.com
or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.