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A Review of Mushroom Escape

Last Sunday, the radio station Mushroom Escape was born. This was a culmination of a weekend-long festival of entertainment which ironically some of us were trying to escape from! But I am being facecious. There arre reasons why I would quite like Mushroom Escape to do well, so lets stay with that theme.

Mushroom Escape is a radio channel which streams a variety of classic comedy and drama. Its website at
www.mushroomfm.com/escape
informs the reader that the world of radio comedy and drama is vast, (which it is), and that they will bring this wonderful world to you seven days a week in a way which will keep you coming back for more. Downloads are not available on the site.

Their differences are that the schedule is planned by hand rather than an automated random selection, meaning regularly scheduled episodes of series are broadcast at the same time every week. This is important because that is what used to happen on the radio so it gives a nostalgic feel to it. In addition, they do not just focus upon American comedy and drama. A good percentage of it comes from Britain and Australia.

L and I were "brought up" on drama from the 70's and 80's especially, and for my own enjoyment and use I remember recording over ten years worth of plays continually. So I can see a lot of value in this both for those of us who are old enough to remember some of these classics and so as to introduce the subject to younger listeners. I have visited the BBC drama studios and talked to producers and actors. I used to attend recordings of The Archers at Pebblemill in Birmingham. I used to sit in the audience of radio comedy recordings. I also have really enjoyed comedy and drama from the 60's and before.

So after a week of broadcasting, what is the station like? Because of my love of the subject I had to find out.

The door to Mushroom Escape is a page on the Mushroom FM site. All the information about it (including its schedule) can be found on the same page together with a link to listen to it. The station is being slowly included into many internet radio directories including those for mobile devices.

If you live in a country and time zone other than the East coast of America, you have to do a lot of mental gymnastics to find out what time your favourite show will be aired. The way Escape works is that they have a four hour block per day which is repeated. This block starts at 6 PM Eastern and rotates. So, I am in England. It's lunch time (12 PM). I have to first work out the time difference (we are five hours ahead of Eastern) Then I have to work out from the schedule which show should be playing. This isn't as easy as it sounds, as the site only gives the initial block from 6 to 10 PM Eastern, and doesn't let us see the whole 24 hour period. By the time you've worked that all out it is probably time to give up. Are we really saying that there isn't the technology as yet to display the schedule in a user's time zone? What is so marvellous about US Eastern?

As a potential listener, the other difficulty I have is determining details of the programme episode I will be tuning into. For example, they are streaming Paul Temple dramas. Now I have heard plenty of Paul Temple drama going right back to the late 30's. I know about this man and this drama! So I am keen to find out which story they are running. I cannot. It just says "Paul Temple" - no drama title, no episode number, no synopsis. If the drama on this station is carefully planned then we ought to be able to see what we can potentially listen to.

I see a lot of tweets and Facebook posts about how much people enjoy drama, so I am certain this station will be a winner and has a lot going for it. If they could just make it a bit easier to find out what we could listen to, that would be a help. In addition, there are two more things which would add value.

First, some people would want to read some background on the drama. For example, Mushroom Escape introduced me the other day to the Lux Radio Theater. I wanted to learn more about it so I looked them up on Wikipedia. It might be nice to have links to Wikipedia articles of the dramas for background reading.

Mushroom FM is a station which seems to pride itself on listener interaction. So why not build on that? Why not create a Twitter account or blog where people can post comments. Maybe get some discussion going about the station's output. People could share their memories and thoughts about other dramas they would like to hear.

So in summary, I think the concept of the station is good but it needs a lot more power behind it at the moment. But it is early days to be fair. Lets watch and wait. Dramatic suspense?

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