Zombie Horde Seizes the Airwaves

By Bethany Reynolds • October 10, 2010 at 11:59 pm


They are here. Guts spilling, skin peeling and brains decaying, the zombies have arrived. Soon they will be flooding Commonwealth Avenue and infecting Boston University.

Soon no one will be safe.

That, at least, is what Nate Goldman (COM ’11) wants you to believe throughout the “Undead End: The Zombie Apocalypse Radio Drama,” WTBU’s month-long radio performance. Inspired by Orson Welles’ 1938 performance of War of the Worlds, the Undead End aims to be a “re-imagining of his story told in 21st century landscape,” according to Goldman, who created the series and WTBU’s radio performance department.

A BU student showcases the end result of the zombie makeup workshop for the Undead End done by Vera Papisov (COM '12). Photo by Nate Goldman.

“My first research paper I ever wrote in college was about Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds,” Goldman said. From there, he was inspired to re-create the event on a much larger scale and, in the form of a zombie apocalypse. The project has been years in the making, and Goldman re-worked and developed the execution of his idea until he decided to approach the WTBU Executive Board about creating a new department specifically for radio performance, within which he could further plan what would become the “Undead End.”

“Whereas Orson Welles’ performance was told only on radio because it was 1938, this is told throughout various media… to create a more interactive component,” Goldman explained.

These interactive components include a help hot line, websites such as www.geneeva.com and www.radioalternation.com, pamphlets, fliers and other small ways in which students can immerse themselves in what Goldman calls “a zombie-infested world.”  “I really enjoyed the idea of creating an alternate reality,” he continued.

The central component of the project, the radio broadcasts, air live on WTBU on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. The first of five episodes aired on September 30, and Goldman hopes its group of 150 listeners will  increase as the series gains popularity.

The series follows Dr. Daniel Matheson (played by Chris Nolan), the genetic mastermind of GeneEva Laboratories, whose research “aims to usher in the next stage of human evolution,” according to the first installment of the series. Soon after a document indicating a partnership between GeneEva and the U.S. military gets leaked, something goes awry in Matheson’s research and mysterious illnesses begin popping up. Then the infections spread and the zombie apocalypse begins.

While the performances primarily air under the guise of the AlterNation Radio news program, the guerrilla advertising techniques set up by Goldman and the WTBU E-board throughout campus will be integrated into the show. The events explained throughout the show will relate back to events happening on campus, such as a zombie run and live performances. Because Goldman penned the script for all five episodes of the “Undead End” himself, it is easy for him to manipulate new events into the series, essentially incorporating them as they happen. Even if listeners hear about the show well into the series, they can still get in on the gore. After they air, episodes can be heard online on the Undead End and WTBU’s websites.

WTBU hosted a zombie makeup workshop the day before the first episode aired in hopes of both promoting the event and getting help later for the zombie run. Since the zombie run represents the climax of the story line, Goldman hopes to get a lot of people involved.

“People seem really into it,” he said. “People seem to really want to participate and help out and dress up as zombies.”

Vera Papisov (COM ’12) led the workshop. The makeup for creating a zombie includes tissue paper, stage blood, and chicken bones.

WTBU’s Public Relations Director, Tara Jayakar (CAS ’12), is integrating the events with activities she had already planned. “We would be doing this stuff anyway, but now it’s something extra; that makes it better,” Jayakar explained, and highlighted WTBU’s annual bake sale as an example. The bake sale will be a mock fundraiser for families affected by the zombie attacks, and will take place in the GSU link on October 18 through the 22 from 12 to 4 p.m.

Jayakar also hopes to hand out fliers and pamphlets at ComiCon next week to get the greater Boston community involved.

“All the things we’re doing for this helps us because our name’s on it,” she said.

With zombies apparently everywhere in the media today, it seems like a likely choice for Goldman to choose the monsters for an apocalyptic setting. For Goldman, though, the re-emergence of zombies in pop culture is coincidental.“I’ve always loved zombies,” Goldman admitted. “Actually, the only recurring dream I’ve ever had is about zombies. The inspiration to make the performance episodic came from a zombie comic book, The Walking Dead.”

More importantly, the project is about expanding the influence of not only WTBU, but radio in general. While many, including Goldman’s radio engineer father, believe radio to be a dying medium, Goldman says he prefers to see it as an evolving one.

“This is my attempt to show what radio can be in terms of entertainment medium,” Goldman explained. “Show the potential it still has.”

To listen to the Undead End after it airs, visit: www.theundeadend.com
For multimedia and more information on events, visit:
www.facebook.com/theundeadend
For more information on the Undead End and WTBU, visit:
www.wtburadio.org




Responses

  1. Tara

    Just seeing this, but I’m in CAS, graduating in 2012.