The National Audio Theatre Festivals, Inc. (NATF) is an organization for emerging and established creators and enthusiasts of audio theatre, audiobooks, radio drama, and radio theatre. NATF began in 1979 as the Midwest Radio Theatre Workshop (MRTW) and is a fully qualified 501(c)(3) non-for-profit corporation based in Missouri.
In 2013, NATF began producing the Hear Now Audio Fiction and Arts Festival, featuring live audio theatre performances, a juried competition for recorded works, panel discussions, and networking opportunities. The educational experiences offered by MRTW live on in HEAR Learn workshops at the festival and throughout the year.
Thousands of participants at MRTW and HEAR Now have been inspired by both the accessibility of the art form and its tremendous creative possibilities. Scores of new audio theatre groups have emerged all over the country as a result. NATF continues to grow and expand its scope by taking advantage of internet connectivity as well as the increasing interest in podcasting and voice acting.
The mission of the National Audio Theatre Festivals, Inc. is to serve the advancement of audio theatre and evolving media arts through education and presentation. NATF promotes, supports, produces, and educates within the audio theatre genre and hosts education- and workshop-based programs through the Hear Now Festival and other events.
NATF and Hear Now are committed to fostering diversity, and welcome participants and workshop leaders regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, and ability.
The Hear Now Festival is a gathering where the work of master storytellers in audio is celebrated and shared. Hear Now also introduces audiences to developments in audio preservation by showcasing restored and archived award-winning audio dramas.
Hear Now is the audio equivalent of a film festival for contemporary audio storytelling in all its forms:
Tony Brewer, President – Bloomington, IN
Russell McGee, Vice President – Bloomington IN
Ellen Stewart, Treasurer – Sonora CA
Angela Elam, Secretary – Kansas City KS
Thomas Tiggleman, Bloomington IN
Bonnie Bogovich, Austin TX
Meredith Ludwig, Boonville MO
Michael Brainard, Los Angeles CA
Steven Brown, Salem WI
Ray Archie, San Francisco CA
Charlie Potter (Chair)
The Firesign Theatre
Roger Gregg- Crazy Dog Audio Theatre
Tom Lopez- ZBS
Brian Price- Great Northern Audio Theatre
Don Priest – Community Radio – Fesno, CA
Ben Taylor – Recording Engineer – Tempe, AZ
Randy Thom- Skywalker Sound
Vanessa Whitburn- BBC
Robin Whitten- Audiofile Magazine
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For many of us who worked with Renee over the last 30 plus years it’s been a very difficult loss. She loved working with audio in all its many guises and would do anything within her ability to make it happen. Her smile, twinkling eyes and can-do approach to our many audio adventures will be missed by all of us whose lives she touched.
Bonnie Bogovich is a sound designer and voice actor in the video game and audio drama industries. Her voice can be heard in projects including The Call of the Flame," "Pugmire," "Mandible Judy," "I Expect You To Die," "Codename Blank," "Pathfinder: Kingmaker", and "Death and Taxes." She is the co-producer of Cryptic Canticles’ "The Dracula Radioplay Experience", co-creator of "Super Smash Opera," and "Evenings in Quarantine: The Zombie Opera," and arranger and vocalist for a plethora of video game tribute albums. Her audio production company, BlackCatBonifide LLC, is based in Austin, Texas. Learn more at https://blackcatbonifide.com.
Tony Brewer is a poet and sound effects artist from Bloomington, Indiana. He has taught and performed at the Hear Now Festival since 2013 and has been on staff with NATF since 2001. Tony specializes in live productions and has worked nationwide, from Florida to Minneapolis and from New York to Washington State. He has won an ANGIE award (named for Angela Lansbury) and was made a Kentucky Colonel for his work at the International Mystery Writers Festival in Owensboro, Kentucky, and he received the inaugural Bradshaw Award (named for Firesign Theatre character Lt. Bradshaw) for Service to the Field of Audio Theatre. More at http://www.tonybrewer71.blogspot.com
Alice Anne English is an audiobook narrator and actor with a sister who lives in the Kansas City area. She has been a Mark Twain reader and has been andis the producer of the Mark Twain readings at the 2021 Hear Now Festival Online. She has performed in both New York City and the Washington, DC area and toured with Encore Shakespeare out of Richmond, Virginia. She’s a bit of a technophobe, but is learning a bit more about sound technology every year with Hear Now.
Emily Labes is the Communications Manager of Soundbooth Theater as well as a freelance Creative Communications Specialist. For Emily, storytelling takes a variety of forms – from helping to craft Soundbooth’s core messaging to drafting ad copy and blogs to writing her very own audio serials. As the co-creator of Space Buns, Emily wrote the script of the very first SBT Original! She has also been fortunate enough to hear some of SBT’s talented voice actors perform her work in “Meta Narrators,” a sketch she wrote for the 2019 Independent Audiobook Awards, and Love in the Time of Corona, a series that was performed in nine weekly installments on Soundbooth Theater Live! and then adapted into a one-act play for the 2020 Hear Now Festival. The Hear Now production received the 2020 Festival Favorite Award. Prior to running away from corporate America, Emily was a publicist at Finn Partners, a publicity firm, before becoming the Digital Marketing & Strategy Manager of Caserta, a tech firm specializing in big data. As a publicist, Emily primarily worked in book publicity. She had the privilege of promoting books by many notable authors and individuals, including Diane Ackerman, Dean Koontz, and Pope Francis. She graduated from Emerson College with a BFA in Creative Writing and currently resides in New York City.
Russell McGee is a 2021 Audie Award Finalist, a three-time Telly Award winning writer/producer, and a 2019 Regional Emmy nominated writer. Russell received his Master’s in TV/Film Production from Indiana University in 2013, and his Bachelors in Theatre with a creative writing minor from Indiana State University in 2001. He currently works as the On-air Promotions Producer at WTIU, teaches Screenwriting and Sound Design at Indiana University, has written multiple Doctor Who short stories including a Subscriber Short Trip, and is a sound designer for Big Finish Productions LTD on their Doctor Who audio dramas. He was also nominated for Best Audio Adaptation in the 18th Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards, nominated as a Producer, Writer, & Editor in Children's Programming 2018 Regional Emmy Awards, won the Best Vocal Direction Award in the 2019 Audio Verse Awards, and won the Bronze Festival Favorite Award in both 2019 & 2020 at the Hear Now Festival.
Charles Pptter is a retired audio producer formerly based in New York City. He has taught sound and audio production at universities and in workshops in the US, Europe, and Africa, including 25 years as Professor of Film and Television at New York University. He won numerous industry awards for his work including CPB, Armstrong, and Ohio State Awards, and produced three Grammy Award-winning recordings in the Spoken Word category. Charles taught interdisciplinary media and cultural studies courses at the Institute for American Universities in Aix en Provence, France for twelve years. He has been a craftsman all his life, working in many media: wood, metal, fiberglass, and stone. His special interests include, but are by no means limited to, old motorcycles, wine, Provencal language and culture, and all things medieval. He and his wife Helene are now full-fledged retirees who currently divide their time between Saugerties, New York and Apt, France.
Ellen Stewart is the General Manager of KAAD-LP, a community radio station in Sonora, CA., which she developed with her husband. She has participated with NATF since 2001 and has served as Treasurer for the group for the last decade. For the HEAR Now Festival, she produced Oh! What a Poetical War and 1917 as well as HEAR Now's live show in 2013 and 2014. Her production, Licorice, was part of Podcast Palooza, 2019. She has spent a lifetime as a theatre director/producer/actor in Sonora where she was Artistic Director for Columbia Actor's' Repertory and Mountain Actor's Conservatory. She is a retired instructor in theatre and speech from Columbia College in California.
Angela Elam teaches radio production in University of Missouri Kansas City’s Communication Studies Department and is the producer and host of New Letters on the Air, UMKC’s nationally distributed literary radio show. A graduate of Clemson University’s English Department, Angela received a Master of Fine Arts degree in dramatic writing from the University of Georgia. She started in public radio in 1988. Awards include the PRNDI Award for Best Use of Sound, finalist for the 2010 New York Festivals International Radio Arts & Culture Award, Clarion Award (2011 and 2013), and the Simons Public Humanities Fellowship with the Hall Center for Humanities at the University of Kansas.
Steve Donofrio spent 34 years on the air at KOPN 89.5 FM, where, as the Radio Ranger, he hosted a Weekly 3 hour Music and Info-tainment show featuring the flora and fauna of the State of Missouri and a mix of Americana music: Classic Country, Honky Tonk, Western Cowboy, Western Swing, Folk, Alternative Country, Rockabilly, Blues, Bluegrass, Tejano, Cajun and Cowboy Poetry. The Ranger served as KOPN's production and remote broadcast engineer from 1993 to 1996 and Produced - "Where The River Rolls", a live music CD, to celebrate KOPN Radio's 20 years of broadcasting local music. The Ranger also engineered and produced the award winning " Classical Trivia" that aired on KOPN.
The Ranger was the Satellite Coordinator for four national live broadcasts over NPR of the Grateful Dead -New Year's Eve:1983/1984 1984/1985 & 1985/1986 and the Summer Solstice SEVA Benefit concert from Toronto, Canada in June 1984. The Radio Ranger has been a Free-lance Audio Engineer &Technical Consultant for the past 22 years.
For ten years he served as Technical Coordinator for Midwest Radio Theatre Workshop and as its Executive Director for three more years. The Ranger is a current board member of the National Audio Theatre Festivals. The Ranger served on the Missouri Arts Council - Citizen Advisory Media Panel from 1995 through 1997 and is a member of the Missouri Cowboy Poetry Association. Currently, the Ranger works for the Columbia Online Information Network as a technical support specialist. The Ranger is a fanatic St. Louis Cardinal baseball fan, a vice he inherited from his mother.
Thomas Tiggleman is a Bloomington artistic professional working in event technologies. He has acted in several local short films such as The Thin Brothers from Tugboat Pictures, and Day’s Time from Grumpy Golden Entertainment. He works as the Master Electrician for the Bloomington Playwrights Project, Lead Tech at Markey’s Rental and Staging, and as a freelance lighting & sound designer supporting several regional high schools. Appearing in several corporate voice-overs, acting in award-winning radio dramas, and singing tenor in Bloomington’s premiere barbershop quartet Jordan River Crossing, he readily employs his vocal skills and recording techniques.
Renee Pringle is the Broadcast and Recording Tech at National Public Radio based in Washington, D.C., District of Columbia.
Meredith Ludwig is a writer/director/producer who grew up with a transistor radio under her pillow, saw her first musical at age eight and from then on embraced the act of storytelling in any media that she came in contact with. Due to current conditions, she has turned to the virtual world, learning to adapt to more visual format by creating video content for nine tribes in Ottawa County. Oklahoma with funding from the Administration for Native Americans. Her most recent body of work is Tilly Takes a Turn, the comedy of her Gemini twin, Tilly Tyrell. She was an early participant in Midwest Radio Theatre Workshop/KOPN and is forever grateful for the training she received in her formative years.