BOOM, Stak’s ground-breaking new audio drama, brings together spellbinding sound design with some of British acting’s hottest properties. From Issue #022 of the Pod Bible magazine, the Breaking Bread column from Stak spoke to writer Joel Emery…
“It’s the most ambitious project we’ve tried”.
That’s Joel Emery, the writer of BOOM. Launched in June, it’s the third drama that he and his partner, Adam Jarrell, have created with Stak, following in the footsteps of chart-topping comedy Jackie the Ripper and the award-winning mockumentary The Offensive. But BOOM is certainly like nothing they – or anyone else in fiction podcasting – has ever tried before.
“We wanted to achieve what The Duffer Brothers have with Stranger Things and the 80s, but with 1999-2001 – and in audio,” director Adam Jarrell explains. It’s taken hours of tweaking, experimenting, listening, tweaking again. Thanks to Adam and Tom Whalley’s (BBC Radio 6 Music, His Darker Materials) expert sound design, BOOM has lived up to its lofty ambitions: “Hearing the sounds of a 56k dialup, ‘You’ve Got Mail’, Nokia 3310 ringtones and Windows ’98 starting up is not just there for a bit of nostalgia, it’s all to ensure listeners believe they’re there with Jim in 1999.”
Set at the turn of the century in the headquarters of America’s doomed services and tech giant Enron, the story follows Jim Yang, a Finance Manager who is moved to their Broadband Services department to help fulfil the company’s chilling strategy: to control the internet. As Enron keeps growing, the once introverted Jim is thrust into the greed, chaos and dazzling debauchery of the late 90s. But it isn’t the new friends and soaring share price that changes his life. It’s an email. An email from a company in the future, who claim to have saved Jim’s life. And in return? They want Enron’s money.
What follows is an edge-of-your-seat thriller with a gripping dystopian twist, as Jim becomes embroiled in a time-travelling conspiracy that will blow his world apart. Few fiction podcasts can match the scope and ambition of BOOM’s plot, which reads more like that of a TV show than the first sixepisode season of a podcast. The show also boasts a hugely talented, star-studded cast, led by Akie Kotabe (Mad Men) – “a director’s dream, the perfect lead for our show”, says Jarrell. “Joining him are Omari Douglas (It’s A Sin), Sharon D Clarke MBE, Meg Cavanaugh and Mike Cappazola. What an absolute joy to be able to work with a cast like that!”
Each member of the cast spent hours with Adam in Stak’s studio in North London perfecting every last line – sometimes alone, but often recording with each other to capture the energy, tension and romance between the show’s characters.
Most of all, BOOM is a must-binge. The story will have listeners instantly hooked and wanting to come back for more. Because beneath the show’s futuristic twists and turns, listeners will be gripped by the touching story of Jim’s self-discovery as well as the ticking time bomb at Enron. The company’s infamous boom and bust is a timeless story of greed and the human condition – one that is more relevant than ever in our hyper-digital, hyper-corporate age today. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your Sony Walkman and climb into your own time machine – it’s going to be quite the ride…