Shane Salk is an award-winning producer whose interest in audio drama stems from a childhood love of cassette recordings of vintage radio programming. He co-created and produced the first audio drama of its kind to be distributed by Internet podcasting: a weekly adventure series performed with a full cast, sound effects and music. We’re Alive: A Story of Survival launched in May 2009.
An early adapter of novel Internet marketing methods, Salk took advantage of cost-free promotion on the Internet to establish a fan base and spur its growth. He contacted independent websites and blogs frequented by the show’s target audience, thus bringing in an initial set of listeners who then spread word through social media and unsolicited reviews. Listeners were impressed with the high production values, complex sound design and a script written specifically for audio drama presentation. Fan-generated content began to appear (websites, blogs, art, music, stories). As the popularity of We’re Alive steadily grew, Salk continued his cost-free promotional campaign by bringing the series to the attention of mainstream news organizations, resulting in print and online interviews with the creators along with profiles of the program in Time.com, The LA Weekly, The Orange County Register, The Guardian and IGN.com among other. For additional promotion and revenue generation, Salk also produced celebrity events including live performances and appearances by the cast at Comicon.
By the time Episode 42 was released, shortly after the beginning of the second season, the cumulative number of downloads reached one million. Within four months, the two million mark had been passed and by the end of the second season (71 episodes) the cumulative total was almost five million downloads. Three months after the Season 4 Finale (Episode 139 in July 2014), more than 40 million episodes had been downloaded. The current total is well over 150 million.
We’re Alive was a five time winner and two time finalist for National Audio Awards and was included in “Best of” lists on iTunes and Zune, three times. We’re Alive and its creators were at the forefront of Internet audio drama — they are presented as the case study for “Radio Drama in the Modern World” in The Radio Drama Handbook (2011), a textbook and report of an academic research study.*
Salk’s audio drama adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was released simultaneously in English and Spanish, by Blackstone Audio on CD and by download. Produced and with sound design by Shane Salk, starring Maurice LaMarche, Rob Paulson (Emmy Award winners for their roles in Pinky and the Brain), and Neil Flynn. The show was directed by award winning producer and director Bill Holmes. A Christmas Carol received the Parents’ Choice Award for Story Telling in 2012.
Salk’s other credits as producer, director and sound designer of audio productions range from a sitcom series on LA Talk Radio to a fantasy/action pilot starring Emmy Award winner Michael Emerson (Lost, Person of Interest), to original short stories and pilot episodes for children’s shows, serial action/adventure, mystery and comedy shows. In the video realm, Salk has produced short films and a web video series that have appeared in several festivals around the country. He is sought after by producers of both audio and video projects because of his willingness to provide voluntary consultation. Initially trained as an actor (Chapman University, BFA), Shane has appeared in several dozen stage, screen and voiceover/audio roles. He has performed live stand-up comedy and improvisation. He originated the Genie in Disney Cruise Line’s production of Aladdin.
* Hand, Richard J. and Mary Traynor, The Radio Drama Handbook: Audio Drama in Context and Practice. Continuum, 2011.
“A masterpiece of teaching and research… ” (Tim Crook, Head of Radio at Goldsmiths, University of London); “…excellent illustrations of the role of audio drama in contemporary media and its rediscovery by young media entrepreneurs.” (Frank Chorba, Founding Editor, Journal of Radio & Audio Media).
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