A transmedia overview on the radio


by Ana Vasile, published on 19.05.2011

Undead End is an independent multiplatform project that chose the radio as its primarily media. A rather unusual choice that raises a question already asked by one of our readers:  “Why is the radio so rarely considered when constructing a transmedia mechanism?”

A radio multiplatform drama

Undead End is a zombies-story, created by Nate Goldman, presents itself as an interactive and immersive experience. The author declared himself inspired by Orson Welles, when he decided to erase the borders between fiction and reality.

The plot, mainly told through news broadcasts, focalizes on the evolution of a research laboratory specialized on human body studies that start an epidemic with a zombies’ virus.

The multiplatform mechanism:

  • · The radio : the narrative media
  • · Internet through viral videos, designated websites and a blog
  • · Events (street theatre and a zombie march)
  • · The mobile : a safety phone number to cal if infected with the “zombie’s virus”
  • · Outdoor : posters with advices of how to avoid catching the infection
  • · A game : a “zombie hunt” in augmenter reality

The operation that started in 2010 was concentrated on the Boston University’s campus and broadcasted on the WTBU radio. For the first episode, the audience settled at 2 000 listeners, but the following one gathered the double, more than 4 000. Undead End was broadcasted as well by WZBC Boston radio, two months after its first broadcast.

If its plot is not that innovative, Undead End has the great quality of proving that we can still tell stories through the radio!

The radio told stories, once…

Before the TV’s democratization, the evening was the best moment to listen to the radio, all the family gathered in front of it. It was a cultural shared moment. This media’s function was more than just informational; the radio told stories, created and broadcasted dramatized narrations.

Devant la radio

The most obvious example is “The War of the Worlds” an Orson Welles radio adaptation of the SF novel, broadcasted in 1938 by CBS. This radio drama created panic for thousands of Americans, convinced that the fictional narrative was true and that the Martians are attacking the United States. The theorists blamed the program’s authenticity, even though CBS stated the fictional quality of its program: the actors took the role of reporters and told the fictional events as real news.

Radio evolutions and transmedia projections

The radios has for sure evolved, nowadays it is listened for its informational function or just as a musical background. The TV democratization has changed the consumer’s habits and evidently the usage of this media.


The study l’Année Radio 2009-2010, shows that the radio gathers in France more than 42,3 millions listeners aged of 13 years and more that listen to the radio more than  2.54 hours per day. The superior sociologic and professional categories are the highest radio consumers: more than 9 of 10 persons from this category listen to the radio daily.

A study driven by Ipsos shows that the morning remains the white collars’ radio rendezvous. The radio penetration on this group of consumers is, at least in France, 26, 7% between 7.45 and 8 o’clock.


In the construction of a transmedia strategy, the radio could become a way to create daily meeting points with some well defined audiences. Keeping in mind the programs proposed by the radio stations nowadays, we have to face a question: can we still can develop fictional narrations like in the old times, like Orson Welles. The debate is still open and we invite you to join it on our commentaries section or on Transmedia Lab’s .

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author Ana Vasile

Ana Vasile est rédactrice pour Transmedia Lab. Diplômé d’un Master Pro en Communication Multimédia et Audiovisuel de l’Institut de la Communication et des Médias à Grenoble, elle travaille en agence de publicité pendant plus de deux ans dans un département de création. Ana a contribué au développement de la politique éditoriale et à la rédaction d'articles au sein de l’équipe du Transmedia Lab de janvier à novembre 2011.