Our Founders: John Barber & Charlie Matkin

Several years ago, a group of actors got together to re-create three old time radio shows as a fund raiser for Radio For the Blind in New Orleans, WRBH-FM. John Barber produced the show at Le Petit Threatre du Vieux Carre, or Little Theatre. He had a large collection of original radio scripts, so he called on some friends who had experience in broadcasting and/or stage productions to take part.

The first show consisted of "The Thin Man", "Fred Allen" and "The Shadow". A good time was had by all, including the theatre audience, as well as those who heard the live broadcast.

About a year later, another show was given. This included"Sargeant Preston", "Tarzan" and "Henry Aldrich". By Halloween,1991 there was a core group who wanted to do more shows on a more regular basis. This time, the group decided on "Catwife" from Arch Obler's "Lights Out" and the Orson Welles script of"Dracula". After being turned down by one church (on the basis of their feeling it smacked of Satanism), the auditorium of another church was rented. This venture was so well received that WRBH re-ran it the following year and played it ("Dracula") again at a later fund raiser. "Dracula" may well become an annual broadcast event.

A fund raiser was put together early in 1993 for the singer John Gary, (who was a victim of cancer, presently in remission) by F.A.M.E. and John Barber was asked to help put it together, using his radio scripts. A number of local celebrities took part, as well as several people who had taken part in earlier shows. In two nights, six different half-hour programs were given: "Gunsmoke", "Mr. District Attorney", "Dick Tracy", "Boston Blackie", "The Shadow" and "The Lone Ranger".

Charlie Matkin (who had served as producer/director,announcer and actor in the previous shows) applied to theInternal Revenue Service and in April of 1993 was given official non-profit status for the New Orleans Radio Theatre, Inc. He became President and Executive Director of the organization, with John Barber as Vice-President and Artistic Director. Ralph Scheeler took on the duties of Secretary and Barbara Bollinger-Hower was Treasurer. The fifth board member was Reggie Hendry, whose title was Technical Director.

John Barber resigned for personal reasons in October and Peter Gabb joined the board as vice-president. At the first of January, Ann Meric took over as Secretary and Ed Ferguson became Treasurer.

In March, a program of excerpts from several comedy scripts was presented before a live audience for delayed broadcast.

"The Monkey's Paw" was adapted for radio and taped in Studio 4 at WWL-TV. It was broadcast a short time later on WRBH-FM, WRNO Worldwide shortwave and WTIX-AM.

The next studio production, also in Studio 4 at WWL-TV, was a re-creation of the Orson Welles script for "The Hitch Hiker" (sic). In 1996, several presentations of comedy excerpts were given for clubs and civic organizations.

I left out a production at St. John's Lutheran Church on Canal Street. We did a "Suspense" script, Arch Obler's "Sub-Basement" and (using scripts from Lux Radio Theater and NBC Playhouse) we did a re-creation of "It's A Wonderful Life".

At our January, 1997 meeting of the Board of Directors, Paul Yacich was inducted as Artistic Director.
(Revised February 12, 1997)

For more information contact

New Orleans Radio Theatre, Inc.
P.O. Box 24184
New Orleans, LA 70184-4184

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Design©1996: Yacich of New Orleans