WAIP... Milwaukee's Funniest Failing Radio Station?
By: Ryan Albrechtson
Photo Credit: All In Productions
The world is constantly changing. And as storytellers and changemakers, theatre artists need to change with it. But how do we appeal to a new generation of audiences in the tech age?
Simple. You start a theatre podcast.
“I have been fascinated by radio plays since I was a kid,” says Adam Qutaishat, creator of the WAIP podcast - a theatre centric podcast produced by All In Productions. “My mom really likes them so I grew up listening to them. Then, a couple of years ago a friend suggested to me listening to a podcast called The Thrilling Adventure Hour. It’s essentially this live radio play performed in LA all the time with some amazing actors, but it was a podcast. I was really fascinated by it.”
While Qutaishat was dreaming of producing a podcast of his own, similar ideas were brewing over at All In Productions. They reached out to Qutaishat for help, and they began melding their ideas together. “They really wanted a podcast that was geared towards the Milwaukee theatre community, that was more informational,” said Qutaishat. “I agreed to that in principle: having a sort of theatre bulletin, interviews, and things like that. But I also said I want to have performance elements. So I convinced them to have a couple of segments as well. And that was sort of the beginning idea of the podcast.”
This model lasted them for the first four months (although, the first episode they recorded ended up not working, and is now referred to as “The Lost Episode”). As they continued to tweak the podcast to appeal to their audiences, they decided in order to draw in a larger number of listeners they’d need to make something a little more universal.
“I brought in a couple of other writers and we completely changed the format to being narrative driven,” said Qutaishat. “Essentially, there is an overarching framework that there is this failing radio station in Milwaukee called WAIP. And so there are segments of that - some of them are serious and some are completely ridiculous. There is a cast of interesting and colorful characters on that show. So the conceit is that everything you hear is happening either at the station, or as a show that is happening on the station.”
In addition to the “WAIP” component - the show features a variety of episodic segments. Some of these include All Arcadians (a spoof of DnD), The Worsener (a terrible superhero), and Dog Investigator (a gritty future reimagining of Scooby Doo). There are also several other bits throughout podcast including fake commercials and a Sport Blast, where local actor David Sapiro delivers “the worst sports takes you could possibly imagine.” On top of all of these performance elements, the podcast also features interviews with local artists and arts groups about upcoming events.
While the podcast has been quite successful, Qutaishat is continuing to look ahead to the future. “We’d like to get the live audience to grow. Most of the audience is the actors who are on the show, but there is room for another 30 or so people to sit in and watch the live taping,” says Qutaishat. “To come and hangout and have a beer and join us for the fun.”
“Another thing that I’m working really hard on is increasing the diversity on the podcast. You know there are a lot of really talented actors in town. As an actor of color, I walk into a room and I’m one of the only people who is a minority there. And that seems to be the trend in Milwaukee. We’ve done a decent job of creating roles for women, but my new thing is finding a communities of actors across the gender and color spectrums.”
The podcast, which has previously been recorder at a variety of venues such as Next Act Theatre, The Alchemist, and In Tandem Theatre, now is recorded monthly at Oak and Shield. Qutaishat hopes to grow the audience for these live recordings. “You get an hour and a half to two hours of watching actors play. And you get to see some of the things you don’t hear on the podcast - their faces and reactions, the funny banter off microphone, some of the mess ups. Everyone has said that they feel included and they enjoy themselves when they come and watch.”
More information about the podcast can be found at allin-mke.com.