This week, we’ve got a sci-fi satire that takes the real world and makes it hyperbolic… but it doesn’t need much fiddling to be full-on wild. This is our showcase of Dispatch from the Desert Planet.
Like what you hear? Us too. You can support Morgan Maxwell on the podcast’s site.
Learn more about how to support Radio Drama Revival on our website.
This episode of Radio Drama Revival was recorded in the unceded territory of the Kalapuya people, the Clatskanie Indian Tribe, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, and the Atfalati tribe. Colonizers named this place Beaverton, Oregon.
If you are looking for ways to support Native communities, you can donate to Nourish Our Nations Arizona at https://www.gofundme.com/f/nourish-our-nations-arizona, an organization that provides essential food items to Indigenous families from more than six tribal communities.
ELENA: Sometimes, the escape valve that we need from real life needs to be relevant. We want something to stoke our fires, to resonate with our anger and our drive for revolution.
Tune into 89.x1 to feel that fire, in Dispatch from the Desert Planet, right here on Radio Drama Revival.
ELENA: Hello, and welcome to Radio Drama Revival, the podcast that showcases the diversity and vitality of modern audio fiction. I’m your host, Elena Fernandez Collins. Today, experience the first episodes of a fiction podcast in our showcase; next week, return to join us for the creator interview.
Our next stop is the far off reaches of future space controlled by a tyrannical Coalition, in Dispatch from the Desert Planet. Set on said desert planet, the broadcasters of the wide-ranging radio station 89.x1 are here to dispatch non-news information while complying with the mandates of the Coalition. Broken up by real ads from our Earth that are so excessive they seem like satire already, Dispatch is a satirical art piece that takes our very real historical and current events and translates them into a somewhat hyperbolic science-fiction.
It didn’t need that much translation.
Here, you can find thoughts on revolution and the philosophy of rebellion, government tyranny and police brutality, and the power of artists to fight back against oppression. It’s a podcast created by Black author and voice actor Morgan Maxwell, with the stories and realities of people of color front and center, expertly delivered in ten minutes or less. Please be aware that the following episodes, by their nature, contain talk of racism, fascism, the pandemic, the prison system, and police brutality.
And now, we’ll start with episode 1: “Solidarity and Salutations!”.
[begin episode 1]
[radio tuner search sound]
Broadcaster J. June: [sigh] Hi there. It’s 10 past the fifth rotation. Actually, it’s 18 past the fifth rotation. I’m Broadcaster J. June and I’m running a little late today, please forgive me. I want to start by saying a warm hello to all our friends and comrades out there. And, to anyone else that may be listening, kindly allow me to remind you that 89.x1 is a fully compliant non-news media organization. So, for example, an unending deluge of Peace Officers, Safety Guardians, Compliance Monitors and whatever else showing up for near constant lengthy site checks that seem to involve unrelated interrogation of staff, and arbitrary, verging on sadistic, destruction of station equipment and belongings,including my favorite mug, might be effective in momentarily delaying our operation, but has the overall result of confirming every single 89.x1 employee’s commitment to continuing to do the work of broadcasting Independent radio. So, with that said, we turn now to CFAS mandated sports.
[lively 90’s sports music intro]
Announcer: This is a sports talk show. Sports Byline. Here’s Ron Barr.
Ron Barr: Nice to have Bonnie Blair back with us here on Sports Byline. Medalist of the 500 and 1,000 meter events, speed skating in the Olympics, almost a gold medal winner in almost every Olympics you can think of. Bonnie, how are you tonight?
Bonnie Blair: [fuzzier sound quality, calling in] I’m doing all right — how are you?
Ron Barr: What’s your life been like because, uh, I mean, you have left your mark on the, the sport of course, but you’re somebody who has really emerged as a personality as well?
Bonnie Blair: Well, yeah, I mean, it’s uh, you know, there’s definitely been a point of transition there of not competing and not training every day and you know, you kinda, you know, I guess go through some emotional ups and downs, I mean, yeah it’s great to wake up and know I don’t have to do a work out every day but you know, like smells outside and things bring back memories, you know. So it’s almost kinda like going through a point of mourning, I guess.
Ron Barr: [laughing aggressively]
Bonnie Blair: and go to music and everything else, right?
Ron Barr: [continues laughing aggressively]
Bonnie Blair: [laughs meekly]
Ron Barr: Bonnie, thank you for joining us tonight here on Sports Byline
Bonnie Blair: Alright, thank you for having me
[lively 90’s sports music outro]
Broadcaster J. June: Wow, that sure was vital and not in any way just a distraction for the masses. It’s time for an Information Update. A ruling in conjunction with last cycle’s Media Protection and Conservation act stipulates we include the following.
Fast Tempo High Pitch, Unidentified Speaker: News is a protected speech content category and, as such, can only be crafted and delivered by organizations certified by the Coalition of Free Autonomous States. Any organization purporting to present news, facts, or truth without a CFAS issued license is in violation and will be held criminally liable. Non-licensed media organizations must still adhere to the Information Responsibility and Restraint Ordinance and the Council and Community Positive Sentiment Regulation. Failure to adhere to Coalition guidelines will result in criminal liability.
Broadcaster J. June: On to information. Over 674,515 people have died from a highly contagious virus that does not exist. The Coalition is investigating these events as part of a large scale mass suicide terrorist action. The former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority was removed from office after claiming the highly contagious virus exists and expressing doubts regarding the effectiveness of a drug in treating the highly contagious virus that does not exist. The former director uploaded their account to the Interplanetary Network. Citizens are being warned to avoid streaming this highly illegal action. We have sourced a short clip to help our listeners recognize the dangerous material with the hopes they will skip it immediately if they happen to come into contact with it.
Former Director of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority: Our window of opportunity is closing. If we fail to improve our response now, based on science, I fear the pandemic will get worse and be prolonged. Well, having trained my entire life to recognize these outbreaks, and recognize viruses — have a PhD in virology — I knew that all the signs for a pandemic were present. A novel virus, infecting people, causing significant mortality, and spreading, so all the signs were there. It was just a matter of time.
Broadcaster J. June: An unnamed Coalition official said the following to certified-news media organizations.
Unnamed Official (speaking in deep distorted voice): The former director was ousted for a drug problem rather than a problem with a drug. Easy mistake.
Broadcaster J. June: they then reminded certified-reporters that the former director was, in fact, a terrorist. Let’s pause now for a word from our Coalition mandated sponsors.
Unnamed Announcer: Sponsored by the Coffee Bureau. On the day of armed conflict we shall take time to say only these few words from our sponsors. They are words quoted from a recent department memorandum and they read as follows. It is a known fact that coffee plays an important part in the morale among the personnel. In total war, high morale is needed not only by our armed forces but by every civilian as well. Coffee gives the extra energy, the steadier nerves which are so much a part of the kind of morale we all must have. Coffee, more than ever before, is the necessary drink.
Broadcaster J. June: Thanks for that. An unnamed anti-Coalition former citizen, and now terrorist, claims their partner [censor bleep] was abducted off the street by military personnel and thrown in an unmarked vehicle. Certified news-organizations remind us this is not possible as [bleep] does not exist. Members of People for Equality continue their terrorist campaign. Supporters claim the movement works to promote equity and end Coalition sanctioned violence citing un-certified statistics regarding disproportionate monitoring, use of force, and incarceration of communities of color. The Coalition has “asked” that the following clarifying information be distributed on all platforms, which, apparently, includes non-news Independent Radio.
- Peace Officers have not killed 598 people this cycle. 2. The videos of Peace Officers physically engaging with citizens of the Coalition are not real. 2 a. It is illegal for citizens of the Coalition to record videos of Peace Officers physically or non-physically engaging with citizens. 2 b. It is illegal for citizens of the Coalition to view videos of Peace Officers physically or non physically engaging with citizens. 3. The Coalition does not see color. 3 a. It is illegal for citizens of the Coalition to see color.
CFAS spokesterminals have gone on to release the following statement to Coalition certified news media organizations.
Eerie Childlike Digital Voice: This week, rioters have plunged many Coalition cities into anarchy. These rioters, if not subdued, not only will destroy the livelihoods of law-abiding citizens but will also take more innocent lives. One thing, above all else, will restore order to our streets An overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain, and ultimately deter lawbreakers.
Broadcaster J. June: Well, that sure clarifies things. Would you look at that, Broadcaster L. Hughes has just informed me some Coalition of Free Autonomous States contingents may be passing through the area. Salutations and solidarity, officers. We wish you a safe journey and hope you make it to your final destination expediently. In the meantime, let’s move to the Wild World! The Wild World is a completely unobjectionable bit of radio where we discuss the wild and wacky world of insects and non-human animals across the galaxy.
[funky bass loop fades in]
Tonight we’re shining the creature spotlight on Protomognathus americanus, an ant species from Earth One. Recently bio birthed as part of a species recovery initiative, these fiery formicidae are thriving under careful certified-Scientific study. Back on Earth One, Protomognathus colonies were observed stealing other ant species pupae, using a chemical odor to enslave their captives, and growing their success through the resulting forced labor. A PreStandardTime2009 text from non-certified scientists Archenbach and Foitzik titled ‘first Evidence For Slave Rebellion: Enslaved Ant Workers Systematically Kill The Brood Of Their Social Parasite Protomognathus Americanus’ was published in the non-Science publication, Evolution.
Ant species enjoy eating just about everything in nature from fruit to other insects. And, did you know ants can swim? They sure are something! Keep crawling little ones.
[funky bass loop fades out]
Thanks to our friends over at Tubman Depot for sponsoring thisday’s Wild World. We here at 89.x1 are sending our love through the subspace. And we’re sending our love to you, dear listener. I’m going to turn it over to the musical stylings of Marion Harris. This is Broadcaster J. June signing off. Stay safe, stay informed, and stay tuned.
[“Don’t Leave Me Daddy” by Marion Harris fades in]
[end of episode 1]
ELENA: While we take a moment to find the next broadcast from 89.x1, I want to tell you about how you can support this podcast.
Radio Drama Revival has been showcasing fiction podcasts and elevating the voices of their creators for thirteen years. If you’ve enjoyed this show, if it’s helped you or healed you, or done the unforgivable and increased your episode queue, there are a couple of ways to support our continued existence.
First, you can join our Patreon, at patreon.com/radiodramarevival. We have a special Discord server for all our Patrons, where we organize monthly meet-ups with listening parties, silly and informative powerpoint presentations on podcasting, and more.
Second, we’re pleased to announce the creation of the Tickertapes, where for a small fee, you can share a message with the rest of Radio Drama Revival’s audience. I’ll read the messages, and they can be a birthday card, a quick podcast advert, a casting announcement — whatever you have that needs an audience like this one. You can learn more at radiodramarevival.com/tickertape.
Okay. Let’s check what your sign says today in episode two, Horoscopes!
[begin episode 2]
[radio tuner search sound]
Broadcaster J. June: Good morning friends and comrades. Thank you for tuning into 89.x1. It’s the top of the third rotation and I’m Broadcaster J. June. How’d you sleep? Things got little
heated at our headquarters last night. But, what else can you expect when broadcasting from a remote desert planet? Don’t worry too much — the haze has lifted. I’ve poured myself an extra large morning brew and Broadcaster slash tech extraordinaire W. Coleman assures me that any damage our security system might have incurred is superficial and they can sort it.
And now for thisday’s weather, [laughs] I’m just kidding. We here at 89.x1 proudly broadcast to all 268 Coalition planets as well as 126 fixed location space stations, and 12 recently terraformed meteors. I have no idea what the weather has in store for you thisday, listener, but I do know, whether it’s suboptimal radiation seeps or temperate ClimaFixed breezes, we’ll be right here, broadcasting, and doing everything we can to help you make it through the day.
Speaking of making it through the day, let’s turn now to horoscopes. Thisdays horoscopes are courtesy of astrologist N. Tolokonnikova over in quadrant three.
[dreamy acoustic guitar loop fades in]
Brave Aries, don’t be scared to indulge your creative side today. Seven moon aspect in quadrant four may have you feeling like art is that magic stick you’ve been looking for which could help you transcend languages, borders, nations, genders, social positions and ideologies.
Practical Taurus, every human being needs to have a set of tools to overcome horror. Spend today developing your toolkit. Be wary of an afflicted house.
Adaptable Gemini, remember absolute power turns everybody into an absolute shit.
Loyal Cancer, thisday you may find yourself looking around and not seeing a willingness to sacrifice, to be humble, to be aggressive and fight, that combination of extreme and dissimilar states of being in whose absence humans would differ little from tapeworms. You may find hundreds of people living a comfortable existence, people who know how to do nothing but play at bohemians without being real bohemians.
Confident Leo, with second quadrant suns in opposition thisday, it is a good day to keep in mind competitive solidarity does not exist; competitive love does not exist either.
Clever Virgo, being ridiculous is one of the best ways to tell the truth. When you are ridiculous, when you tell the truth, they will say you are insane.
Charming Libra, time and time again, the needle in your sewing machine breaks, but there are no spare needles. You have to sew but there are no spare needles. So you find old, blunt needles on the wooden floor and you sew. They do not punch through the fabric, and the thread gets tangled and breaks off. But you are sewing and that’s the main thing. At night you have a good dream that makes you wake up with a smile on your face: you dream that you are presented with a set of needles. You wake up, look around, and realize that no, it was only a dream, a beautiful rose-tinted dream. In reality, you will again sew the whole day with the blunt needles you scare up in the manufacturing zone. Take a chance on love thisday.
[acoustic guitar loop stops]
Lets pause now for a coalition mandated message.
[old wartime audio recording]
Unnamed Announcer: [crackly sound quality] I know that it is hard to realize the magnitude of the war in which we are involved. We have problems in this war. Fortunately the great majority in this great crisis of our history. Have shown themselves to be splendidly loyal to our flag. Everyone had a right to sympathize but now that we are in the war there are only two sides and the time has come when every citizen must declare himself peer or traitor.
[wartime audio ends]
[dreamy acoustic guitar loop fades in]
Broadcaster J. June: Well, that sure was something. Back to horoscopes.
Honest Scorpio, this day has you recognizing truths. It’s a mistake to put political activists in prison. It only makes them stronger and more convicted in their beliefs.
Optimistic Sagittarius, occupy streets and squares and do not leave until your requirements are filled. Plot, demand, persist. You know, metaphorically.
Ambitious Capricorn, there is power in asking simple questions.
Assertive Aquarius, your job is to ask annoying questions. Ah, look at that, maybe you should get together with Capricorn. Hmm, maybe not. It seems like you’re not particularly compatible.
Imaginative Pisces, a quadrant 4 T-square configuration means there is power in imperfection. Don’t try to be perfect all the time.
[dreamy acoustic guitar loop fades out]
And those are today’s horoscopes. Thanks again N. Tolokonnikova. We here at 89.x1 are thinking of you. And, we’re thinking of you dear listener. We’re about to head into a music hour so I can eat some breakfast. In the meantime stay safe, stay informed, and stay tuned.
[guitar riff begins]
[end episode 2]
ELENA: Finally, to round out our first exploration of this universe with the 89.x1 dispatch, they’ll have to comply with authority in episode 3, Deepest Gratitude.
[begin episode 3]
[Radio Tuner Search Audio]
Broadcaster J. June: Good morning friends and comrades, you’re tuned to 89.x1, Independent Radio broadcasting from a remote desert planet. I’m broadcaster J. June announcing we have two new and scaley faces around headquarters. A pair of chuckwallas have made themselves something of a home in a disused cupboard in our break room. I have mixed feelings about it, if I’m being honest, listeners. These slithery herbivores have been very pleasant about sharing their arid habitat with us and of course it’s only fair we do the same. Still, I’d be lying if I said their presence was a welcome surprise during my search for an oatmeal vessel. I’d venture my startled face was just as big a shock for them. The larger of the two ejected its tail and relocated behind the water recycling tank. Never a dull moment around here.
It’s 80 past the third rotation and some appreciations are in order. Long time listeners will recall, we here at 89.x1 are in the midst, perhaps perpetually, of a credit raising campaign. Believe it or not, there’s a cost associated with our little operation. Exorbitantly priced temperature control, higher than average rates of equipment damage, the solicitation of legal advice, and mental health services following lengthy detainments. The point is, without some outside help we wouldn’t have a single cupboard for two adventurous chuckwallas to move themselves into, let alone an entire Independent Radio headquarters. So, I’d like to say some quick thank yous to our community. The folks who always find a way to scrape something together to share.
[Funky Drum and Horn Loop Begins]
First we have the good folks over at the Scrappy Bean diner in quadrant nine. They’re hard at work serving up carbs for comrades. Be sure to stop by for a mean rigatoni and maybe an appearance from a doggy duo that know how to rock flannel. Over in quadrant twelve we have the Stanton House Collective, a refuge for anyone seeking shelter and a real contender for this cycle’s blooming botanist exhibition semi-finals. And lastly the Azevedo Art and Science Cooperative, a STEAM enterprise working to make the worlds better places. On behalf of the entire 89.x1 team, allow me to extend our sincerest thanks.
[Funky Drum and Horn Loop Fades Out]
Now a short pause for legally deemed necessary Coalition mandated content:
[60’s Style Riff Begins]
Unnamed Announcer: Introducing the Sloppy Joe — a brand new dance from Libby’s, the people who make sloppy joes. Just heat and eat . . . and swing to the beat. Nothing like it anywhere. In beef or pork. What do kids think of it?
Unnamed Child: Man, it’s the sloppiest!
[60’s Style Riff Ends]
Broadcaster J. June: Cool. It was strongly recommended to us that our broadcast be more adamant in expressing positive sentiment toward our glorious interplanetary authority, the Coalition of Free Autonomous States. We heard you loud and clear. And, in the interest of expressing appreciation, we’d like to dedicate this non-news information segment to highlighting one of the many ways the Coalition is working to keep its citizens safe. First, in compliance with the Media Protection and Conservation Act:
Unnamed Pre-Recorded Voice: [Increased Speed and Pitch Audio Recording] News is a protected speech content category and, as such, can only be crafted and delivered by organizations certified by the Coalition of Free Autonomous States. Any organization purporting to present news, facts, or truth without a CFAS issued license is in violation and will be held criminally liable. Non-licensed media organizations must still adhere to the Information Responsibility and Restraint Ordinance and the Council and Community Positive Sentiment Regulation. Failure to adhere to Coalition guidelines will result in criminal liability.
Broadcaster J. June: [dripping with insincerity] Thisday we would like to draw attention to the Coalition’s wise and just incarceration of nearly 1% of its citizens. Without policies of swift and lengthy detainment these violent, and also often non-violent, criminals, and also often folks accused of criminality but unable to meet excessive bail cost, would be on our streets, in our homes, and contributing to our society.
But our gratitude for the Coalition’s judgement in keeping us safe needn’t stop there. The CFAS works, even after release and time served, to keep a watchful eye on these menaces to society. Imagine the state of our worlds if the Coalition didn’t diligently ensure 10.6 million cases of incarceration each cycle. If, listener, you were for some reason harboring disloyal thoughts toward the Coalition — don’t worry, I know you’re not. But, if you were, you might find yourself questioning the cost and efficiency of a punitive so called justice system with often arbitrary incarceration lengths that fails to take into consideration the impact of a so-called crime on a community and is just one part of an endless cycle of detainment and poverty.
Allow us here at 89.x1 to explain the error in your thinking. While you may have, mistakenly, worried about the cost to taxpayers and the treatment of human beings, you were missing two key details. First, criminals are not human beings. While it may seem like the only difference between a person deemed a criminal and a person not deemed a criminal is a series of luck, economic status, skin color and other issues of inequity outside of our control, this is not the case. The Justice system is exactly that. Just and indisputable. Also, we don’t see color. Secondly, regarding any concerns about cost, although it is a costly endeavor, the key detail you’ve forgotten, listener, is that it’s also a money making enterprise. The Coalition brilliantly contracts with private prisons to monetize the incarceration of human beings. Furthermore, while inside, detainees are set to work doing everything from manufacturing to firefighting for seemingly illegal, but totally legal, minuscule pay. They are also set to doing any labor and upkeep the facility demands.
I know it can be hard to conceptualize. Imagine, listener, an apartment in the Central District. Actually, that would be a little on the small side. Imagine instead a large rural plantation home, kept away from and, importantly, out of sight of society.
[Banjo Music Loop Begins]
That house would be a safe place to gather all of the criminals. You’d need a set of non-criminals, obviously, to oversee things and manage the day to day operations, and to forcibly keep folks there against their will. Then you’d have this large and seemingly impossible to control group of people that feel they have suffered at the hands of the authorities. So, naturally, you’d channel that energy into something, monetarily, productive like, I don’t know the production of a ubiquitous commodity consumers have come to expect at a low cost. And you’d set these criminals to work producing this commodity, and you wouldn’t have to pay them any standardized credit amount, because they’re being kept there against their will with very few options. Then, eventually, the length of time you agreed to keep them there would expire, so you’d release them back into a society only after convincing everyone that they’re too dangerous to function in that society, which would be great for you because they would then eventually, and against their will, come back to your rural plantation where you need them to to keep up the production system you’ve established, and, if you played your cards right, you could get money beyond their unpaid production powers by incentivizing the powers to be to pay you a small fee for each human being you keep against their will.
[Banjo Loop Ends]
You get it. So, we here at 89.x1 feel absolutely positive that this system, brilliantly devised by the Coalition, deserves to be broadly recognized and understood. You might even call it a positive sentiment. Deepest gratitude to the CFAS for continuing to keep us safe. And that concludes our non-news information segment. This is Broadcaster J. June saying stay safe, stay informed, and stay tuned.
[Bass Music Begins]
[Bass Music Fades Out]
[end episode 3]
ELENA: If you liked what you heard, you can support Morgan Maxwell and Dispatch From the Desert Planet over at https://www.patreon.com/dispatchfromthedesertplanet. Join us next week for our interview with her, where we talk about art, oppression, and the power of satire.
Radio Drama Revival runs on the smell of jasmine in the spring and strawberry-patterned swiss rolls. If you’d like to help keep us afloat and featuring new, diverse, unique fiction podcasts and their creators, you can support us on Patreon, at patreon.com/radiodramarevival.
And now we bring you our Moment of Wil.
WIL: Hello! It’s time to talk about one of my favorite satires: Adventures in New America. Adventures in New America, uh, was a fiction podcast distributed by Nightvale Presents, by screenwriter Stephen Winter. It is so much fun. It is a campy, schlocky, pulpy take on a new America in which there are vampires and, just, a whole bunch of over-the-top genre fiction campiness that I really love. But at its core, it is this scathing indictment of American capitalism and American institutionalized racism. It rules! And it did not get the press it deserved — let me tell you. We tried! [laugh] We tried, especially Ely and I — we tried. But it’s called Adventures in New America — I hope you give it a listen!
That means it’s time for the credits.
This episode was recorded in the unceded territory of the Kalapuya people, the Clatskanie Indian Tribe, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, and the Atfalati tribe. Colonizers named this place Beaverton, Oregon.
If you are looking for ways to support Native communities, you can donate to Nourish Our Nations Arizona, an organization that provides essential food items to Indigenous families from more than six tribal communities, including White Mountain, Navajo Nation, and Gila River. Their gofundme is https://www.gofundme.com/f/nourish-our-nations-arizona.
Our theme music is Reunion of the Spaceducks by the band KieLoKaz. You can find their music on Free Music Archive.
Our audio producer is Wil Williams.
Our marketing manager and associate audio editor is Anne Baird.
Our researcher is Heather Cohen.
Our submissions editor is Rashika Rao.
Our associate marketing manager is Jillian Schraeger.
Our transcriptionist is Katie Youmans.
Our audio consultant is Eli Hamada McIlveen
Our associate producer is Sean Howard.
Our executive producers are Fred Greenhalgh and David Rheinstrom.
Our mascot is Tickertape, the goat.
I’m your host, Elena Fernandez Collins. This has been Radio Drama Revival: all storytellers welcome.