On May 4th, 2016, Radiotopia presented its first live show at the Ace Theater in Los Angeles, to a sold out room. The event was Radiotopia’s first foray into live performance as a network, and we were thrilled to take the stage in front of more than 1,500 friends and fans. Nine of our 13 shows performed. Throughout the evening we laughed, we cried, and cheered together as Radiotopia hit a new milestone in its two-year history.
The Memory Palace- “This Room, Right Here”
Nate set the stage for the evening by telling the history and founding of United Artists and the Theatre at Ace Hotel itself.
Fugitive Waves with The Kitchen Sisters- “Nobody Can Soldier Without Coffee”
Nikki and Davia told the story of coffee in the Civil War- the most popular topic in soldier’s letters to home.
The Allusionist- “Making a Mark”
After some banter with Roman, Helen gave us a humorous recap of the history of penmanship.
Radio Diaries- “Juan’s Diary: Undocumented”
Founder Joe sat down with past teenage diarist Juan Rodriguez to talk about living in the US undocumented.
Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything- “UFO’s Are Real”
Benjamen took the audience through a story of outsider art, UFOs and modern-day drones.
Criminal- “The Finger”
Phoebe and Lauren told the story of a man who loves giving police officers “the finger”. Check it out on the latest episode of their podcast.
Strangers- “Love Hurts, The Prequel”
In a moving first-person story, Lea revealed the prequel to her ‘Love Hurts’ series.
Mortified- “Stairway to Winnipeg”
Past diarist Johanna diarist performed a history report on Winnipeg/Led Zeppelin cover song she wrote in high school, meant to woo her crush.
99% Invisible- “Anchorwoman”
Accompanied by live music, Roman, Avery and writer Jon Mooallem wove the tale of an earthquake in Alaska and how one news station persevered.
Throughout the night, interstitial music provided by Hrishi helped pull the evening together.
Radiotopia Live further proved we have the most passionate fans in the world.
Hands down. At the end of the evening we pulled off the largest coin check of the year, asking the audience to pull out the popular 99% Invisible-inspired premium from our 2015 fundraising campaign. As we looked out at the crowd and saw a theatre full of fans holding coins in the air, we were truly humbled. We couldn’t possibly have made our live show happen without our sustaining donors.
What We Learned
A big challenge in planning the show was figuring out how to weave stories from nine very diverse shows into one cohesive program. We realized Radiotopia podcasts cover a wide range of subject matter, but still feel connected and relevant to each other through their high-quality, sound-rich styles and formats. With Roman Mars as master of ceremonies, we created a physical representation of Radiotopia, and transported the audience to a place where “everything is radio, and everything is very good” (quote from now EP Julie Shapiro when she coined the name “Radiotopia” years ago at a conference).
As producers and radio makers, we’ve never had to think about stagecraft, but in order to put on a good live show, technical production is vital. We hired anamazing team of professionals, led by our friend Lynn Finkel who has worked on TED, the Grammys, the Emmys and more. Having a stellar production team
allowed our producers to focus on their stories and performances, rather than the dirty details. From the captivating lighting in Lea Thau’s story of heartbreak, to the perfectly timed smoke machine choreography, to the media clips played throughout the night, Lynn’s team made sure our show looked as good as it sounded.
We continue to learn that if our stories are compelling, our listeners will follow; even to new mediums. During the show, what felt like magic was actually love and energy from our fans, both in-person and online through social media. We can’t thank you enough for your support, and to those who missed our first show… we’re already talking about when and where the next Radiotopia Live show will happen!
Huge thank you to our amazing sponsors, including Poo-pourri, A1-Array, Kind, Hint, KCRW, Knight Foundation and Mailchimp. And another enormous thank you to Gadi Creative for capturing these amazing photos and video!