07/30/03
"Willoughby"
    by John Cech

Brief sound clip

That's the Professor and his faithful side-kick, Willoughby, getting ready to pucker space and send a box full of cockroaches into the Arabian desert, as part of the Professor's latest and grandest noble experiment, as he puts it, to "cure the world of all its ills." The only problem is that, instead of the roaches, Willoughby and the Professor end up in the desert, and there their real adventures begin.

This is from the first episode of a radio series called "The Withering of Willoughby and the Professor," that's available on many public radio stations around this country and in Canada. The idea was created by Joe Bevilacqua, a very familiar voice on Public Radio in the early 1970s, when he was a thirteen-year-old kid, mightily influenced by radio presences like Bob and Ray and Stan Freeberg, and by television cartoons, Sherlock Holmes, and mad scientist movies. He was playing around with his first tape recorder, and in one inspired master session, in which he did all the voices and sound effects, the idea for Willoughby magically appeared. Out of this, over the years, the series has evolved into an eight-part odyssey through the surreal wilds of the imagination and encounters with a cast of sublimely odd characters, including a Cheshire cat in a rain forest and a shaman who wants to use their box to collect all the "unwanted noises in the air." There's much to discover here for young listeners, and to rediscover for those of us who still remember the delight of radio stories, told without visual props and distractions, with only the world of sound to transport you anywhere in the universe.

Brief sound clip.

Copyright 2003 John Cech

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"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."