Interview with W. Ralph Walters Creator/Writer of the Zombie Astronaut’s Frequency of Fear

Dear Imaginary Readers(and Mom),

It has been an odd week here in Princeton.
A section of road near the graveyard collapsed revealing  hundreds of corpses. The bodies have been removed and sent to a storage facility while their fate is determined. It is unclear how they came to be beneath the roadway.

I spent today doing house work and training the cat to shadow box while we listened to Old Time Radio shows and Contemporary Audio Dramas streaming from the web. There are so many quality programs out there today. I wish that more people knew about and were interested in listening to them. Some time soon I will be posting my review of an audio program called The Zombie Astronaut’s Frequency of Fear. Episodes 1 and 2 of  “Jurassic Despicable”.  For now here is a brief interview with the series creator and writer, W. Ralph Walters.

1)How long have You been doing the podcast? When was the first?

The first podcast was posted back in March of 2007, although I spent a couple of months trying to figure out what in the heck I wanted to do. When I couldn’t come up with anything, I realized if I didn’t just start recording the podcast, I’d probably never do it.

2)What prompted you to do the podcast? And why in this format?

I kept a blog for a long time – I think 6 years – posting OTR and BBC stuff. Jesse Willis, the editor for the SFFaudio site, suggested I do a podcast. He thought more people would be more likely to listen to the podcast than to sift through all the audio I posted to find something they really liked. I’ve also always liked the idea of the horror host, and always wanted to be one before infomercials killed horror hosts, so the Frequency Of Fear started out as simply a horror host introducing episodes of OTR. The in-between bits got more and more complicated over time until we were offering AD of our own around the OTR. KC Locke wrote “Mother Knows Beast”, and suddenly listeners started requesting origin episodes of other characters, so the wraparounds became a little bit of a B-movie soap opera. I discovered there were people who liked the wraparounds but didn’t get into OTR, so I started editing down the wraparounds as Frequency Lite.

3)You’ve got a talented group of people working with you, Who are they and how did you get them on board?

Bill Hollweg of BrokenSea Audio was a fan of the podcast and mentioned wanting to be part of it, so I created Bob Wolfenbridgen, the inexplicably popular TV anchorman. More BrokenSea folks approached me about being in the podcast, so I created characters for them. Eventually I had so many people asking if they could do bit parts in the Frequency Of Fear the huge cast just happened. Some people like Scott Wentworth had never done any audio drama, but turned out to be truly remarkable at it. I did approach a couple of cast members, but most of them volunteered. The cast is primarily BrokenSea affiliated folks, but Jack J. Ward of the Sonic Societysigned on for Prof. Picklepepper and a few characters are old friends I conned into being in the podcast (like Therese Chevas (Eugene) and Brent Hinks (Dr. Von Martinez)).

4)You are a visual artist by profession? What are your markets? What are you most well known for? What kind of work do you enjoy the most?

I made some money doing freelance artwork (mostly tour posters and album covers) back in the 2001-2002, but the market bottomed out on me. You can find my stuff in a few books (The Art Of Modern Rock, Swag: Poster Art Of The 90s, etc.). I did illustrations for a conspiracy theory magazine called Paranoia for awhile – that was a lot of fun. Now I’m trying to build a portfolio of paintings. Even though they take me a lot longer to finish than the drawing, I love painting. I use acrylics because they dry fast so I can’t accidentally screw a painting up by bumping into it.

5)Do You have other writing credits? Acting credits?

No writing, but I’ve been in a few other things – mostly Bill Hollweg’s stuff for BrokenSea. I got to be the Cylons for his Battlestar Galactica AD, I was George C. Scott as Patton in his Planet Of The Apes and I’m Tony Vincenzo in his Kolchak The Night Stalker AD. I’m the announcer in Jack J. Ward’s Spaceways and I play bit parts in other things occasionally too, like Gaia’s Voyages.

6)What is the scope of the Zombie Astronaut project? Do you make any money with it? Do you think you will be doing the podcast in another 5 years?

I really don’t know what the scope is or will be. I’m planning a comic book, but beyond that I’m not sure. It’s actually become a little bit of a time suck to perpetuate, but I hate to see the podcast go before I wrap up all these dangling plotlines. There is going to be a spin-off called Streets Of Staccato that Victor Gates is writing and mixing. I’m tweaking the scripts now so we can get started on that one. Brent Hinks and I have discussed a Dr. Von Martinez spin-off, but that’s still up in the air.

I make no money off the podcast. I’m not opposed to making money off it, as I’ve certainly pumped enough money into it, but I don’t think it’s easy to turn a dime doing DIY audio drama. One day it may turn into something lucrative, but right now I’m just happy people listen to it.

I’d love to be doing the podcast in 5 years. I’m hoping I can eventually train someone to help mix the podcast down, as that would buy me a lot of extra time and make it easier for me to continue to do the podcast without it infringing on the time I should be spending on more important things. Heck, I’d like to do this until I’m too old to sound excitedly irritated about anything as the Zombie Astronaut or until I can’t do Capt. Bonemarrow without choking to death. We’ll see.

7)Did I miss an episode, What ever happened to Zombellina?

Zombelina is reluctantly played by my wife, Jennifer. She’s not really into my hobby, but she’s been kind enough in the past to assist. Zombelina is mentioned occasionally, even if she hasn’t made an appearance since “The Morgue The Merrier”, so she’s still around. She actually has a spike in appearances planned as she becomes an interesting part of the Zombie Astronaut’s origin story, so she’ll pop up again soon…

Would you mind/like me to link to your portfolio?

Eh, it hasn’t been updated in a few years, but it’d be okay.www.wralphwalters.com

Would you mind providing a super short bio?

Hmmm… lessee… Artist and VA, born in Louisiana, presently living in Indianapolis with a wife and two pugs. Watches far too many horror movies.

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