This month, something new will hit the Charleston internet airwaves. Or ... maybe it's something old. Perhaps it's something blue? We're not sure, but this is what always happens to us when we talk about time travel, and, dear reader, that's exactly what we're about to discuss. Time travel and radio shows? Because if we're going to talk about a show about time travel, let it please be a radio show, a relic of past times, but now also a podcast-y wave of the future.
And ... paradox! Space-time continuum! TARDIS!
Ahem. Excuse us. It's the time travel. It muddles us.
Right. October. Our near future, soon to be our past. It will see the launch of the Cardinal James Production's newest project, It's About Time podcast. The new show will be a biweekly podcast sitcom following two bumbling 40-something fellas as they learn to navigate the world of time travel, spawning worldwide disasters along the way.
Steven Cardinal, a familiar face to the Charleston stage scene, is half of The Cardinal James Show, a radio program running on Kinetic HiFi. The Cardinal James Show has hosted local musical groups, comedy teams, and now they're moving into the world of fictional podcasts.
"We've seen the success of shows like Welcome to Night Vale," says Cardinal, referencing a popular podcast series published by Commonplace Books. "It's become a bit of a role model for us."
So Cardinal and co-host Charlie James (another well-known radio personality already and 2007's Academy of Country Music On-Air Personality of the Year) started brainstorming, trying to come up with an idea for a podcast sitcom. "We were sitting around, talking about various ideas. We're both big Doctor Who fans and fans of sci-fi in general. Somewhere along the line, we came up with a question: 'What about a time-travel agency?'" says Cardinal.
Thus, an idea was born. Two middle-aged characters — feckless idiots, to hear Cardinal speak affectionately of them — inherit a time-travel portal from their travel-agency employer. When the agency owner has to make a sudden and suspicious escape, the men — fittingly named Steve and Charlie — decide to use the portal to make their fortunes, and high jinks ensue.
Cardinal and James brought in additional writers, like local novelist Rob Britt (Someone Else's Tomorrow, Blaze Motors) and playwright Douglas Clinton (Princess Tabasco Saves the Universe, The Prophecy of the Shoe) and spent a few Saturdays writing their show's time-travel "Bible."
"Every time-travel production needs rules," says Cardinal. "We agreed that our time travel would be portal-based, not machine-based. When you go back in time, you're going back on your own timeline, but as soon as you're there, as soon as you make a change, you're on a different timeline. When you come back to your own present, nothing on your timeline has changed. You jump back to your original timeline."
It's a great way to avoid the paradoxical questions that plague all the great time travel productions. For example: What would have happened to Marty McFly in Back to the Future had he disappeared from the 1950s dance where his mother and father first kissed? How would the future have been altered had he never existed to go back in time to muck things up in the first place?
See? Time travel. It'll kill you.
Then again, maybe we're not thinking fourth-dimensionally.
Cardinal and James are sure they can navigate that fourth-dimension with It's About Time. They've brought on local talent like actors Maggie Borden, Raul Ceballos, and Christopher Fabian, to voice the many characters they meet throughout time. Their characters will visit pre-Civil War United States and the Titanic, among other not-so-far-flung times. Along the way they may actually cause some worldwide disasters.
And as far as the logistics of planning and releasing a podcast sitcom, Cardinal has it all planned out. "We want to get two or three episodes out quickly to get a following going, and to convince people we're committed to the show," he says. "Once we have visibility we'll spread it out to a biweekly schedule."
As for funding, they're looking to crowd-source the endeavour, at least for the moment. "Our podcasts will be free, so we're hoping to do an Indiegogo to cover cost of recording equipment, stuff like that," Cardinal adds. "It'll be relatively modest. Then, moving forward, we'll look toward merchandising to support ourselves."
The Dunder Chiefs wrote and recorded the It's About Time theme song, and may play at their October launch party (details are still up in the air for that). And each time the intrepid time travelers return to our time, they'll land in the bathroom of Planet Follywood.
"It's a little sinister and a lot funny," says Cardinal. "And with multiple seasons planned, with sitcom-style cliffhangers, we hope to keep audiences tuning in."
Celebrate the launch of It's About Time podcast at a party at DIG in the Park (1049 E. Montague Ave.) Oct. 14, 6-9 p.m. before the series officially launches Oct. 15. To hear the first episode, visit itsabouttimetravelagency.com.