Roswell revisited

Wednesday 28 October 2009, 14:22

Simon Ford Simon Ford

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I think this package by the BBC's Kevin Connolly, for Broadcasting House, is a great example of creative radio.

The sound effects set the mood without dominating the script, which sets the tone perfectly: sufficiently sceptical without straying into sarcasm.

"I arrived expecting to find [UFO researcher Dennis Balthaser] hopelessly naive, but, to be honest, Dennis is so persuasive that I left feeling father naive myself. After all, what kind of idiot believes it's the president of the United States who really calls the shots in America?"

And this exchange between Kevin Connolly and Dennis Balthaser:


"Do you think, when someone like Barak Obama is elected, they tell him about the nuclear weapons - and then they say: 'Incidentally, Mr President ...' and they open a drawer and there's, like, an alien in there?"


"This is one of my favourite questions. You have to understand that the President of the United States is a temporary employee. Basically, he can't be trusted with information like this."

It also goes some way to balancing Connolly's opening assertion that: "... it was, after all, on a night like this that a flying saucer crashed near here in 1947, forcing the American government into one of history's great cover-ups".

Does the Washington Correspondent know something we don't? Or is his statement tongue in cheek? Given the overall tone of the piece, I reckon it's the latter. 

Then there's the incidental music. So often this sounds gratuitous, sloshing red paint on a canvas with great relish, but here it's integral to Connolly's story - and all because one of his contributors happens to be a Count Basie buff. It's a scrap of detail, well observed and then woven into the fabric of the piece.

I can imagine Kevin Connolly arriving in Roswell, pulling up in an old Chevy Impala, turning up his collar against the pelting rain and scurrying into the 'Not of This World' diner to file his despatch.

If you're looking for hints and tips on making creative radio packages, you don't need the help of an alien intelligence. Just follow this link to the Skills section.

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