Nonprofit arts organization the ZBS Foundation began as a “media commune” in the early 1970s and continues to the present day: a period that spans dramatic changes in American radio culture and audio technology. The key creative figure at ZBS is the writer and producer Thomas Lopez, whose work serves as a case study in a “post-network” style of radio drama, one shaped by multitrack editing, field recording, and the ethos of the 1960s counterculture. The ZBS aesthetic comes into sharpest focus in the Jack Flanders adventure series, which demonstrates how ZBS adapted a “theater of the mind” approach to radio drama to create a “theater of the mind-body” that re-accentuated earlier conventions of the radio adventure serial for a countercultural audience. Lopez’s increasing use of field recordings to structure his narratives established a formal tension between the inner exploration of the hero’s psyche and an encounter with different cultures. I chart the development of this formal tension in ZBS’s theater of the mind-body and argue that Lopez’s work with ZBS is a bridge across multiple eras of radio, an archive of enduring characters and distinctive styles of storytelling, and a sonic laboratory for the fostering of cultural dialogue through sound.

The ZBS Foundation is a nonprofit arts organization with a focus on radio production. ZBS began as a “media commune” in the early 1970s and continues to the present day: a period that spans dramatic changes in the culture and technology of American radio. The key creative figure at ZBS is the writer and producer Thomas Lopez, a.k.a. Meatball Fulton, whose distinctive approach to audio drama took shape during what Eleanor Patterson calls the “post-network” era of radio, when the medium underwent “massive transformation” in the wake of the introduction of television.1 Lopez, like other producers of scripted radio drama after the mid-1960s, had to respond to new habits of radio listening, audience segmentation, and the rise of station formatting. Lopez’s career provides a situated perspective on the post-network era, a period that is relatively understudied by radio historians.2

The ZBS story adds a chapter to radio history and places that history in dialogue with accounts of countercultural and communal production. ZBS was established as a media commune in 1970, with a mandate to use radio to “expand consciousness.” The ZBS commune was thus an example of what Fred Turner calls the “New Communalists” of this era, who “turned away from political action and toward technology and the transformation of consciousness as the primary sources of social change.” Communes of this sort tended to deploy “small-scale technologies—ranging from axes and hoes to amplifiers, strobe lights, slide projectors, and LSD.”3 In the case of ZBS, the small-scale media technology that offered “the possibility of individual and collective transformation” was the assemblage of the multitrack recording studio and radio broadcasting.4 An examination of ZBS adds an audio component to studies of media and the counterculture that focus on magazines like the Whole Earth Catalog, graphic and video artists, network television, and the advertising industry.5

In what follows, I draw upon oral history interviews, industry trade journals, and popular press coverage to chart ZBS’s history. I am equally concerned, however, with the audio aesthetic that resulted from the ZBS mandate to expand consciousness, and that aesthetic is most vividly encountered on ZBS’s Jack Flanders radio adventure series. The character Jack Flanders is a hybrid of spiritual seeker, occult detective, and world traveler, and his audio adventures illustrate how ZBS adapted a traditional “theater of the mind” approach to radio drama to create what I’m calling a “theater of the mind-body.” Neil Verma argues that American radio dramatists of the 1930s developed techniques to produce a theater in the mind of the listener, and by the 1940s, radio had become a theater about the mind, via psychological themes and stories that “thematized the power of influence upon inner life.”6 I aim to extend Verma’s argument into the post-network era by delineating a theater of the mind-body style attuned to new forms of spiritual exploration. “Mind-body” here is a shorthand for a set of beliefs and practices associated with the 1960s counterculture that aimed at the integration of one’s physiological, psychological, and spiritual condition. The key features of ZBS’s theater of the mind-body are the thematic emphasis on expanded consciousness through dialogue and dramatization, recordings of spiritual teachings, and narrative sequences that function as therapeutic or meditative sessions for listeners.

The first Jack Flanders adventure, The Fourth Tower of Inverness (1972), is a vivid demonstration of ZBS’s metaphysical and multitracked style of adventure, and subsequent Flanders series expanded the sonic palette of Jack’s adventures through the use of field recordings.7Moon Over Morocco (1974) features recordings that Lopez made on location in Morocco and inaugurated a formal tension on ZBS adventures between the inner exploration of the hero’s consciousness and an encounter with political and cultural difference.8 In the sections that follow, I chart the development of this formal tension in ZBS’s theater of the mind-body, from The Fourth Tower of Inverness to the introduction of field recordings on Moon Over Morocco, to Dreams of Rio (1987), a show that reveals the fullest potential of ZBS’s dialogic style of radio adventure. I conclude with a discussion of ZBS’s continuation into the era of digital audio, and how the organization might add nuance to arguments about the legacy of 1960s communalism.

Thomas Lopez grew up on a Michigan dairy farm and received a degree in media production from Michigan State University.9 Inspired by Jack Kerouac’s On The Road (1957), he headed to Berkeley, California, in 1960, where he encountered the work of radio dramatist Erik Bauersfeld at station KPFA, in particular the series “The Black Mass” (1963–67).10 In 1963, Lopez wrote and produced his first radio play, Ha! Fat Chance for KPFA, and learned to edit sound on magnetic tape.11 By 1966, however, he had become bored with his situation in Berkeley and decided to relocate to London. Lopez arrived at the height of “Swinging London,” and he brought along a portable reel-to-reel tape recorder as part of an arrangement with KPFA and the underground rock station KSAN.12 Once in London, Lopez recorded interviews with popular musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Donovan, the Who, Syd Barrett, T. Rex, and Eric Clapton.13 He also became acquainted with Yoko Ono, who was new to London herself. Lopez made audio documentaries of some of her first public performances and subsequently recorded sound for her film Bottoms/No. 4 (1967).14

Figure 1.

Meatball Fulton (a.k.a. Thomas Lopez), circa 1973. Image courtesy of ZBS.

Figure 1.

Meatball Fulton (a.k.a. Thomas Lopez), circa 1973. Image courtesy of ZBS.

Close modal

Eventually, Lopez ran out of money and in 1968 left London for Philadelphia, where he got a job as a producer for radio station WUHY. It was here that he began to refer to himself on the air as “Meatball Fulton,” a name he’d seen in a Rolling Stone article about a fictional folk musician.15 While at WUHY, Lopez produced a Sunday night program called Feed, which was politically engaged and intentionally provocative, featuring field recordings made by Lopez at protest rallies and interviews with Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Ruben, the Fuggs, and Frank Zappa. At WUHY, Lopez worked with a young engineer named Bob Bielecki, who recalled that Lopez would begin his show with Tibetan horns and Captain Beefheart records to drive away the station’s more straight-laced classical music listeners.16 The political content of the show provoked some listener complaints, and on 4 January 1970, while Lopez was out of town, the DJ who sat in for him broadcast a recorded interview with Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. The interview was peppered with expletives, and the station was hit with an FCC fine for “indecent” programming. Lopez’s show was canceled.17

The kerfuffle at WUHY garnered considerable coverage in the trade press and reached the attention of an eccentric Canadian media mogul named Geoff Stirling, who, in 1969, invited Lopez to work at his free-form Montreal station, CKGM.18 Bielecki joined him in Montreal, as did Lopez’s friend from Berkeley and fellow broadcasting professional Patricia Anderson.19 Around this time, a journalist named Robert “Rango” Durand had come into an inheritance, and he decided he wanted to use it to explore radio’s potential to “expand consciousness.” He sought out like-minded radio professionals, some of whom, like Lopez, were working in Montreal, and others in New York City. Durand decided to buy property midway between the two cities and invested in a 40-acre farm near Fort Edward, New York.20 Thus, in June 1970, ZBS Media was founded as a “media commune,” ZBS standing for “Zero Bullshit.”

Figure 2.

The ZBS media commune, circa 1972. Lopez is third from left. Anderson is in the doorway, with her arms around Bielecki. Image courtesy of ZBS.

Figure 2.

The ZBS media commune, circa 1972. Lopez is third from left. Anderson is in the doorway, with her arms around Bielecki. Image courtesy of ZBS.

Close modal

Lopez, Anderson, Bielecki, and Durand were among the 12 people living at the farm, and Bielecki built a recording studio on the premises. The group members were unified by the goal of expanding consciousness through media production, rather than by sharing a common spiritual practice, guru, or political agenda. Anderson recalled that, while they all lived together on the property, “there was no single, unifying person, ideology, or belief system in play.…Our focus was radio and audio production in all its many forms and fancies. The shared goal was to bring the rich variety of thought bouncing around during those years to the wonderful world of broadcast radio.”21 A 1972 article about the commune quoted a member as saying that “if you talked to all 12 members of ZBS, you’d more than likely get 12 different viewpoints and philosophies.”22 In terms of the group’s politics, Lopez wrote that everyone at the commune was “liberal, obviously against the war in Vietnam, for Civil Rights, feminism,” but he stressed that their core identification was as “pranksters.”23 One indication of the commune’s combination of audio, politics, and humor can be heard on one of their first projects: an album recorded on the commune with the activist Abbie Hoffman, called Wake Up, America! (1971).24

Though the group had no specific spiritual program or political ideology, Lopez wrote about the links between the transformation of consciousness, media production, and social change. In 1971, Lopez published two articles in Billboard that articulated the ZBS ethic. Urging radio artists to “extend consciousness,” he noted that “the essence of communication is simply the feeling you leave ’em with. It’s less important what you’re putting out than where you’re at while you’re putting it out.…An asleep person, who means well, and shouts over the air—Wake up! Wake up! wakes up no one. You gotta walk it like you talk it or you’ll lose that beat, ’cause the only thing you really communicate is who you are.”25 An article in Record World made a similar point, writing that the group had “realized that before you can raise the consciousness of the outside world, you’d better be sure that your own is on the upward trend,” and that, for ZBS, “doing radio was their means, not their end.”26 ZBS aimed to walk it like they talked it, emphasizing process as much as product and aiming for collective transformation through an address to a public of like-minded listeners. The first series that Lopez and his collaborators put out left listeners with a feeling that was unique in the history of radio drama.

In his history of 1960s communes, Timothy Miller notes the importance played by the arts in communal life, writing that “many of the 1960s rock bands lived communally,” and “a great many communes had artist members whose income helped finance the venture.”27 In 1971, Variety listed ZBS as one of three examples of communal societies—“one of the byproducts of the younger generation’s new life style”—that were “supporting themselves by show business activities. In addition to farming, the communes dig for extra scratch by utilizing all commercial talents within their setups.”28 ZBS Media was an experiment in communal living, but it was also a commercial enterprise, and the group hoped to make enough money to cover their costs. To that end, they began producing radio commercials for record companies like Warner/Reprise, RCA, Decca, Grunt, Buddha, and Paramount.29 During this period, ZBS made two promotional records for Warner-Reprise, The Warner-Reprise Radio Show, Vols. 1–2 (1971), which featured original skits interspersed with excerpts from the label’s newest releases.

In addition to these promotional materials, ZBS began to produce several other kinds of programming. Among these was Weekly Farm Report, a program described in Billboard as intended “for a modern consciousness” and strongly influenced by Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog in its dedication to “a simpler and more integrated life.”30 Another article explained that Weekly Farm Report would cover “such subjects as acupuncture, psychic phenomena, music, art, spiritual growth, organic food and gardening.”31Weekly Farm Report was syndicated to a “network” of college radio stations, an alternative channel of distribution during a time when mainstream radio was veering toward narrow format programming.32 Anderson and her ZBS colleagues saw college radio as “the natural home for the weird and the wired”: “what we were producing was quite popular with college students, ‘hippies’ and others outside the so-called mainstream.”33

Lopez was growing tired of writing radio ads, and in addition to Weekly Farm Report, he began working on an original radio serial. The story was loosely based on his memory of a farm outside of Montreal that had been used for CKGM staff retreats, and had a decidedly haunted quality.34 Grunt Records, the company founded by the band Jefferson Airplane, had hired ZBS to make radio ads, and they decided to sponsor the new serial, giving Lopez total artistic freedom in exchange for announcements plugging their artists.35 A representative for Grunt said at the time that they had “realized the importance of college radio and its increasing relevance in reaching a major share of the record-buying public” and hoped that their partnership with ZBS would be a “perfect vehicle for reaching that audience.”36 The serialized narrative took the form of 65 daily episodes of about seven minutes in length, which were syndicated to over 300 college stations.37

The Fourth Tower of Inverness (1972) had a distinctive style that was well suited to the post-network era. First, it managed to make an old form of radio drama seem new. As Patterson notes, hip, young listeners had been introduced to “golden age” radio dramas by the syndication of classic shows in the early 1960s. This kept audio drama on the cultural radar, but accentuated its association with the past. Radio producers in the post-television era were eager to avoid the impression that radio drama was passé and so framed their work as a departure from the medium’s history.38 The first episode of Fourth Tower strikes a balance between embracing radio’s past and keeping it at arm’s length. We hear the howl of a wolf and a spooky organ, as the announcer intones: “And now kiddies, just like back in those days of yore, the whole family can once again huddle around that beautiful mahogany cabinet…as in your mind, vague forms begin to shape themselves.” This playful pastiche addresses college radio listeners as “kiddies” and frames the proceedings with regard to “vague forms” that could register as either flights of the imagination or psychedelic visions. Next, the announcer sets the scene: “High upon a mountain…there stands an incredible mansion…its three towers appear to pierce the sky, its windows are like a thousand eyes turned inwards, and its doors, hinged on time, open into endless space—The Fourth Tower of Inverness!” The vocal pacing of an earlier era of radio is augmented with mystical overtones and a state-of-the-art multitrack sound design that was unmistakably contemporary.

Early in the series, we hear Jack talking to the matriarch of the mansion, his aunt Lady Jowls, in the rose garden. Their conversation is interrupted by the distant sound of music—the recording of “Angel Baby” (1961) by Rosie and the Originals—which is playing on an old jukebox sealed in the east tower of the mansion. Lady Jowls tells Jack that the jukebox plays this record whenever an accident is about to happen. Lopez stated that this narrative device was a reference to the radio serial I Love a Mystery (1939–44), which featured an organ that played every time an accident was about to happen. “I wanted to take what had existed in the ’40s and ’50s and update it into the present time,” Lopez said. His goal was to have “the same energy, the same spunkiness” of classic radio drama, but not try to slavishly reproduce it; “paying homage to the past but not doing the past.”39 A poster for the series visualizes that juxtaposition of old and new: A Gothic mansion and retro jukebox dominate the frame, but they are given eye-popping colors courtesy of the poster’s designer, David Byrd, known for psychedelic posters for rock acts such as Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, and the Who.40

Figure 3.

The poster for The Fourth Tower of Inverness (1972) created by David Byrd, known for psychedelic posters for rock acts of the era. Image courtesy of ZBS.

Figure 3.

The poster for The Fourth Tower of Inverness (1972) created by David Byrd, known for psychedelic posters for rock acts of the era. Image courtesy of ZBS.

Close modal

Fourth Tower solved the post-network challenge of “re-newing” radio drama, and it also appealed to a niche, countercultural demographic. One way that Fourth Tower addressed that audience was through a host of intertextual references. For example, the show subtly aligns itself with the European art cinema popular among young audiences at that time. Lopez consciously emulated Bertolt Brecht in moments of the series when actors can be heard breaking character and laughing. “I realized that when I left the crack-ups in,” he said, “it knocked you right out of the story; out of illusion.”41 There are also explicit references to the films of Jean Cocteau. To enter the fourth tower of the mansion, Jack must pass through a full-length mirror. “I remember how, in the Cocteau movies, they’d leap into the mirrors and disappear,” Jack says. Traditional folktales are another intertextual ingredient in Fourth Tower. One narrative arc in the story is credited as having been “gently and lovingly lifted” from a Hindu myth called “The Descent of the Sun.” With its blend of old-time radio, 1950s doo-wop, folktales, and art cinema, Fourth Tower is a narrative extension of underground radio’s “musical ecumenism,” which allowed listeners to hear musical sets that might include Buffalo Springfield, Mozart, John Lee Hooker, and Balinese gamelan.42 Such an approach would help ZBS to stand apart from an increasingly formatted and standardized environment on mainstream radio.

Fourth Tower also spoke to young listeners through its commitment to promoting an expansion of consciousness. An advertisement in a 1974 issue of Broadcasting described Fourth Tower as a “New Age” mystery serial for “contemporary listeners.”43 Lopez understood the spiritual dimension of the show to be central to its appeal: “There’s a lot of Zen, Buddhist and all kinds of Sufi sayings. All done in a…slapstick kind of manner. And people loved it.”44 When Jack meets the mansion’s caretaker, Far-seeing Art (played by Lopez), the old-timer invites him to listen to the sound “that’s coming from the center of the universe…It’s what’s causing all the turmoil everywhere. It’s what’s making the young people different, making ’em more awake. It’s what’s bringing on the New Age.” Later, Jack meets a ghostly figure who lives in the walls of the mansion, known as the Madonna Vampyra. She takes him to another jukebox, the Wurlitzer of Wisdoms, which contains recordings of spiritual teachers such as Vilayat Inayat Khan, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The Wurlitzer of Wisdoms provides the narrative motivation for excerpts from talks by Ram Dass, which are integrated throughout the series, preceded by the sound of a coin falling into a jukebox. In fact, Dass was a sometime resident of the ZBS community, and the group released a six-disc collection of his lectures, entitled Love Serve Remember (1973). Apart from these explicitly spiritual moments, mystical themes permeate the series. In one scene, Lady Jowls teaches Jack about the Tibetan Wheel of Life, making reference to Lama Govinda’s “Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism.”

The mandate to expand consciousness is manifested not only in dialogue, but also in segments when the narrative morphs into a de facto session in guided meditation. In one scene, the Madonna Vampyra plays the “Moonlight Sonata” on the piano during a thunderstorm and tells Jack to “feel the lines of tension in the air between us. It’s like wires, strung taut. It’s possible to walk out upon those wires…let your mind step out.” The hypnotic delivery and close mic’ing of the voice, combined with the relaxing sounds of the piano and distant thunder, make it feel as if the Madonna Vampyra is speaking directly to the listener. Later, Lady Jowls leads the residents of the mansion in a session of past-life regression, at the end of which an announcer provides an address so that listeners can request more information about the technique. In these sequences, Fourth Tower functions as a therapeutic tool for loosening the body and expanding the mind, along the lines that the historian Sam Binkley claims for countercultural texts like the Whole Earth Catalog.45 Scenes like these are key examples of the ZBS aesthetic I’m calling the “theater of the mind-body,” a term meant to signal both references to radio drama’s traditional “theater of the mind” and an update on that style for an audience interested in New Age philosophies and mind-body practices.

Figure 4.

Advertisement for ZBS’s “New Age mystery serials,” in Broadcasting, 4 March 1974, p. 46.

Figure 4.

Advertisement for ZBS’s “New Age mystery serials,” in Broadcasting, 4 March 1974, p. 46.

Close modal

Recall that “theater of the mind-body” is meant to extend Neil Verma’s analysis of radio drama of the 1930s–50s as a “theater of the mind.” The ZBS version of radio drama is best understood as drawing upon, but distinct from, earlier forms of radio’s theater “in” the mind and theater “about” the mind. The emphasis here is less on simply creating narrative pictures in the mind or exploring psychological themes; instead, Lopez’s work aims to represent and create the growth of consciousness through dialogue, spiritual teachings, the dramatization of spiritual awakening, and narrative sequences that function as therapeutic sessions for listeners.

In terms of genre, ZBS’s theater of the mind-body style was applied to a revisionist adventure. Fourth Tower’s principle narrative arc has to do with Jack’s search for his uncle, Lord Jowls, who has been missing in the tower for many years. Lady Jowls describes her missing husband as “the last of his kind…one of the last great explorers and adventurers.”46 Whereas Lord Jowls is a version of the outdated, colonial adventurer, Jack is cast as a new paradigm for the adventure hero. Lady Jowls says, “look at you Jack, where can you go now? Africa, South America, Borneo? Hardly! The day for that kind of explorer is over.” Instead, she urges Jack to think about “new continents, new worlds, planes of existence beyond the imagination. This is the new explorer! Hearty like the old breed, and yet requiring a sensitivity and discipline and spirit that selects only those who are most careful to do it right.” ZBS’s theater of the mind-body relocates the terrain of colonial adventure to the inner, psychological spaces of spiritual self-discovery. In Lopez’s words, the Flanders character continued the “pulp tradition of an adventurer, going into the jungles, meeting natives, looking for some sort of treasure,” but he is “more of a cosmic adventurer, his search is more spiritual, more in the tradition of Joseph Campbell’s hero on a quest to find himself.”47

Jack defies generic convention in the way he sounds as much as in the things he does. The actor whom Lopez had originally considered for the part was “a hard knuckles sort,” but he proved unavailable. Lopez interviewed Robert Lorick on the phone and recalled that, while he “wasn’t the Jack I had in mind,” there was “a sensitivity to his voice that I liked, and I thought, why not? Let’s see what happens.”48 As played by Lorick, Jack does not come across as a world-weary, hard-boiled tough guy or a self-assured, aristocratic world traveler. Instead, Lorick communicates a certain easy-going intelligence, curiosity, and youthful playfulness. To make a comparison to film actors, Lorick is less Dana Andrews, Errol Flynn, or Harrison Ford and more Elliot Gould, Alan Alda, or William Hurt.49

Lopez’s choice to cast his hero against type paid off, judging by the fact that Lorick played Jack Flanders for 40 years, until the actor’s death in 2016. As that longstanding creative partnership indicates, the eclectic formula of Fourth Tower was highly successful, and ZBS’s “Super-Stereo Mystical-Adventure-Satire Radio Experience” became a cult hit on college radio. ZBS found success in the industrial context of post-network radio through an idiosyncratic combination of communal production, college radio distribution, and countercultural corporate sponsorship. Stylistically, ZBS’s theater of the mind-body was an innovation in radio drama, but one that posed its own set of challenges. Shifting the terrain of adventure to a psychological and spiritual landscape could be criticized as a retreat from politics, or what Christopher Lasch famously characterized as an inward-looking “culture of narcissism” during the 1970s.50 From this perspective, Jack is an adventure hero who only crosses borders in relation to inner states of consciousness and only encounters difference that turns out to be an aspect of himself.51 Lopez’s follow-up to Fourth Tower demonstrated that the theater of the mind-body could expand its sonic purview and maintain a footing in the shifting sands of the post-network era.

Though Fourth Tower had been a cult hit on college radio, it hadn’t made enough money to support the ZBS operation. Grunt did not continue its sponsorship after Fourth Tower, and Billboard reported that ZBS was having trouble securing funding for a new series.52 The landscape for radio funding was thus of crucial importance to ZBS, which competed with National Public Radio (NPR)—formed in 1970, the same year as ZBS—for the money set aside for audio drama by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts.53 At the same time that Fourth Tower was being distributed to college stations, NPR was sending its scripted drama program Earplay to its member stations across the country.54 In 1973, ZBS Media became the nonprofit ZBS Foundation and started pursuing arts grants.55 That year, the New York State Council on the Arts funded an artist-in-residency program at the commune, so that artists could spend “a week in the country working on experimental sound for their projects.” Between 1974 and 1982, ZBS hosted artists such as Bill Viola, Philip Glass, Amiri Baraka, Meredith Monk, William Wegman, David Tudor, Allen Ginsberg, and Laurie Anderson.56

The next Jack Flanders adventure was Moon Over Morocco (1974), which continued the studio-based, multitracked “theater of the mind-body” style initiated on Fourth Tower, but pushed the ZBS sound in new directions. Moon Over Morocco continued the “New Age” adventure format, with Jack traveling to Morocco to study the energy patterns that flow through ancient monuments, motivating many discussions of ley lines, stone circles, and sacred geography. As with Fourth Tower, states of expanded consciousness are depicted through stunning sound design. Moon Over Morocco also continues the sonic ecumenism of Fourth Tower, with folktales via reference to the Arabian Nights, and the “cartoonish” role played by doo-wop songs in Fourth Tower fulfilled by songs from the musical, The Desert Song (1953).57 The show’s most striking intertextual relationship however, is with the film Casablanca (1941). In Tangier, Jack befriends a character named Kasbah Kelly, who is clearly based on Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) from the iconic film.

Moon Over Morocco is a continuation of the metaphysical, intertextual style of Fourth Tower, but it has a striking new element as well, in its novel use of field recordings. Recall that Lopez had brought a portable recorder with him to London in the late 1960s. One of the interviews he conducted while in England was with the American expatriate writer Paul Bowles, who was living in Tangier, Morocco.58 “I loved the sounds of Tangier,” Lopez recalled, “it was so rich with sound.…When I decided to write a story set in Morocco, I used a lot of the information about the Moroccans that Bowles had given me in our interviews, and decided to weave that into the story.”59 Kasbah Kelly was based not only on Rick from Casablanca but also on Bowles, and some of his lines are things that the writer said during their meeting.60

Once he decided that the next Jack Flanders adventure would be set in Morocco, Lopez returned to the country with his portable recorder. “I’d take notes as I was traveling,” he said, “and a story and plot started to take shape. It was the sounds I recorded that gave me the ideas.”61 For Lopez, the sounds were “as important as another character…it’s sort of like a film maker setting a scene in a visually interesting setting.”62 Marketplaces, cafes, courtyards, frogs peeping in a marsh, the sounds of dogs barking at the Tangier moon: all of these serve as sonic keynotes for narrative action in Moon Over Morocco.63 The field recordings were a selling point for the new series, as indicated by a Billboard article that quoted Lopez as saying that the location recordings made it “so real, you’ll even be able to smell the flowers and spice and dry earth of Morocco.”64

“I love to travel,” Lopez said, “I’d do some research on the countries, and the culture, and write that in. I figured, why not say something about the people, the culture, not just have another mindless adventure.”65Moon Over Morocco inaugurated a new era in the ZBS catalogue, and it is a dense, complex masterpiece of multitrack audio storytelling. Lopez’s field recordings served as a counterbalance to the more inward-facing tendencies of the theater of the mind-body, and they complicated a “hippy orientalism” that was prevalent at the time.

Brian Edwards describes the special place held by Morocco in the countercultural imagination, as manifested by well-publicized visits to the country by such cultural icons as William Burroughs, Jimi Hendrix, and Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones. Edwards is critical of what he calls “hippy orientalism,” and argues that the young Western tourists of this period tended to ignore the “points of connection” they shared with Moroccan youth, and instead saw the country as the site of timeless exoticism, in the “temporal lag familiar to Orientalism.”66Moon Over Morocco falls under the sway of these cultural currents, but it also mobilizes sonic and narrative techniques that pull against them.

In an early episode of the series, Jack explains that he has come to Morocco because he believes there is something “basic” and “primitive” in the land and its people: “I mean there’s a raw energy alive here that’s been lost in the West…the people here are so alive, awake, their eyes, their senses…they seem to have an instinct we’ve lost.” Later, Kasbah Kelly refers to Moroccans as being “like children…Their minds work differently than ours.…They have no logic…that’s what makes it so much fun.” In both of these examples, terms like “basic,” “primitive,” “raw,” “alive,” and “instinct” are positively marked: these are the ideals of the “loose” self of the counterculture. Moreover, Kelly’s comments are likely based on sentiments expressed by Bowles during his conversations with Lopez. Regardless of their source and intent, however, statements like these rely on the assumption of a “great divide” between “us and them,” east and west. In these moments, the show can feel less like a departure from an era of colonial adventure and more like a continuation of old structures of thought, albeit given a countercultural makeover.

It would be a mistake to end the discussion here, however, since other aspects of the series complicate an easy assessment of its engagement with Morocco. Edwards describes a pattern of “textual interruptions” in Paul Bowles’s The Sheltering Sky (1949). These are untranslated Arabic phrases that function as “textual interruptions for the American reader,” opening a space for critical engagement and acknowledging the limits of viewing the world solely from an American vantage point.67 A similar set of sonic interruptions can be heard in Moon Over Morocco. Consider the show’s many long, atmospheric sequences that feature recordings made inside airports and on airplanes as Jack travels from London to Morocco, and later from Tangier to Marrakesh. These sequences go on far longer than is required to advance the plot and serve to make the friction of international travel palpable, establishing that Morocco is not lost in the mists of mythic time but connected to the rest of the world through networks of travel and commerce. Something similar happens when Lopez allows recordings of radio and television broadcasts from Morocco to move into the foreground of his sound design. These broadcasts are left untranslated, and in some cases they feature news broadcasts about current events. Field recordings such as these interrupt the plot and situate the adventure in a concrete time and place.

Field recordings work as textual interruptions in other ways as well. During some scenes, fictional characters interact with the voices that are captured on Lopez’s location recordings, as when Jack moves through a marketplace and interacts with children who ask if he is from Chicago or New York. At one point, Jack, Kelly, and an American named Sunny Skies attend a music festival in Marrakesh. At the start of the episode, Kelly speaks directly to the audience: “You’ll be hearing a lot of strange music in the next couple of days,” he says, “and it’s through this music you’ll be getting a true sense of this land and the people.” The music in these episodes is taken from field recordings made by Paul Bowles.68 While we might question whether a casual listener could really get the “true sense” of another culture simply from listening to these recordings, the extended musical sequences are another example of a textual interruption that allows sounds or voices from Morocco to share the mix with Lopez’s script.

Consider as well Lopez’s use of proverbs from the region. Proverbs are often heard as epigrams at the start of an episode, a position that allows them to provide commentary on the story while standing apart from it. Among the proverbs we hear are: “A town’s gate can be shut; a fool’s mouth, never”; “By all means make friends with the dog, but do not lay aside the stick”; “The fish in the trap begin to think”; “If I listen I have the advantage; if I speak, the others have it.”69 The accumulation of these trenchant and multivalent sayings offers a subtle rejoinder to Kelly’s comment that Moroccans “have no logic.”

If field recordings and local proverbs served as textual interruption, the show’s long duration provided other means to refashion the radio adventure serial. In fact, some of Moon Over Morocco’s most striking innovations are best appreciated when we consider it to be a ten-hour radio adaptation of Casablanca.70 It may seem an obvious point, but much of this extra time is filled with dialogue; that is, with characters talking to each other. All this additional conversation makes the narrative more “dialogic” in a quite literal sense: the ideas and opinions of one character are often refracted through other points of view. The American expatriate Sunny Skies takes exception to the proverb, “A wise woman is one who has much to say, but remains silent,” which leads to a conversation about the relative position of women in Moroccan and American culture. Conversations such as these interrupt the plot and allow for a richer understanding of the adventure’s setting.

Consider a dialogue having to do with Moroccan music. Sunny complains that the music at a Marrakesh festival is “primitive.” Jack urges her to “surrender to it,” a good example of the counterculture’s embrace of “the immediacy of real moments” and desire to “live in the now.”71 Later, Sunny talks about her life back in America, where “there’s a lot of dead people walking the streets, dead people running the government.” During a lull in the conversation, as Moroccan music plays in the background, Sunny says: “It is beautiful music, isn’t it?” Sunny encounters difference at the festival, which prompts her to ask questions about her own culture, and as a result of that dialogue she becomes more open to another way of life. The combined use of field recordings and extended dialogue encourage listeners to join Sunny on this journey.

The temporal scope of Moon Over Morocco also facilitates an expanded role for the character Sam in Casablanca. Along with Bogart’s unmistakable voice and the script’s many quotable lines, Sam’s piano playing is one of the key sonic appeals of the film.72 Sam’s piano is the signature sound of Kelly’s bar in Moon Over Morocco and serves as accompaniment to many conversations. The ten-hour duration of the ZBS narrative allows more time for the piano, which in Moon Over Morocco takes on a hypnotic beauty akin to Brian Eno’s ambient recordings with Harold Budd, or early releases on the Windham Hill label.73 We might say that Sam in Moon Over Morocco is no longer just a character in the story, but a set designer as well. Just as Kasbah Kelly is a countercultural revision of Rick Blaine, so too, Lopez presents a revised version of the character played in the film by Dooley Wilson. In Moon Over Morocco, Sam becomes Mojo Sam and refers to himself as the “Yoodoo Man,” because he is an adept of both yoga and traditional African spiritual practices. Sam is played by Dave Adams, a friend of Lopez’s from Philadelphia. Adams had been working as an editorial cartoonist and art director for a small advertising agency when he was asked to read the part of Sam. Lopez stated that Adams was “knowledgeable about all sorts of metaphysical things,” and so wanted to “write him in as himself.”74 Adams said that Moon Over Morocco was the first time he’d been a radio actor and agreed that Mojo’s spiritual interests were his own.75

Figure 5.

Dave Adams, recording at ZBS, circa 1974. Image courtesy of ZBS.

Figure 5.

Dave Adams, recording at ZBS, circa 1974. Image courtesy of ZBS.

Close modal

While the depiction of Sam in the film Casablanca avoided some of the worst of Hollywood’s stereotypes, several critics have pointed out that the film limits his role to that of a Cupid figure who facilitates Rick and Ilsa’s (Ingrid Bergman) romantic relationship.76 In the expanded narrative terrain of Moon Over Morocco, Mojo Sam gets more time to develop as an independent character, and he has his own love interest in the mysterious “infrit,” Layla Oulupi (Chiitra Neogy). In his critique of Casablanca, Edwards notes that the film pays no attention to the local Moroccan population.77 There is a “potent possibility repressed by the film,” Edwards writes, “that Sam, as a racialized subject of U.S. colonialism, might enter into a conversation with the colonized Moroccan subjects who are relegated to the film’s background.”78 In Moon Over Morocco, Mojo Sam not only joins forces with Layla Oulupi, but another key figure in the story, Mustafa the storyteller, turns out to be Mojo’s old friend from America, Quagmire Jones—an African American who has taken an Islamic name. Through Mojo and Mustafa, Moon Over Morocco forges a link between racialized American subjects and colonized Moroccan subjects.

At the end of Casablanca, Rick and Captain Renault (Claude Rains) walk off into the distance, but the “beautiful friendship” that is inaugurated in Moon Over Morocco is between Jack and Mojo. More than a sideman or Cupid, Sam becomes a regular character throughout the Jack Flanders adventures. No other character from Moon Over Morocco is continued in this way, not even the ostensible hero of the story, Kasbah Kelly. Mojo Sam is even the star of several of his own ZBS adventures (The Land of Enchantment [1997] and Mojo’s Vest Pocket Voodoo Adventures [2009]), and Adams plays PaPa LaBas in the ZBS adaptation of Ishmael Reed’s Mumbo Jumbo (1980).

What I hope becomes clear is that, while succumbing to some aspects of the “hippy orientalism” prevalent at the time, Moon Over Morocco nonetheless presents a complex and multifaceted sonic engagement with another culture through its system of textual interruption and temporal expansion. The show’s depiction of Morocco came at a transitional period in the history of Western representation of the Arab world. Edwards notes a shift in the Western imagination around 1973, just as Moon Over Morocco was being made. Before that time, popular ideas about the Arab had primarily concerned Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, but the OPEC oil embargo and energy crisis turned American popular attention toward the Middle East.79 In this context, Moon Over Morocco is a late entry in a system of representation that was in decline. Likewise, it documents a moment when the high-water mark of the counterculture was beginning to recede. We might chart the turning of both of these cultural tides through a comparison of the Crosby, Stills, and Nash recording “Marrakesh Express” (1969)—which Edwards discusses as an example of hippy orientalism—and Jackson Browne’s “Something Fine” (1974), which plays a prominent role in the concluding episodes of Moon Over Morocco. Whereas “Marrakesh Express” emphasizes escapist fantasy (“had to get away to see what we could find”) and presents Morocco as the site of stoned tourism (“Blowing smoke rings from the corners of my mouth”), “Something Fine” is a wistful ballad about the passing of time that suggests the growing awareness of the distance between one’s fantasies of the past and a more fraught and complicated present. “Now you say Morocco, and that makes me smile / I haven’t seen Morocco in a long, long while,” Browne sings. In another chorus, the line is, “it hasn't been that easy for a long, long while.”

Like Browne’s song, the concluding episodes of Moon Over Morocco evoke the feeling of loss: of leaving behind an earlier, easier time; of being half-awake, aware of the waking world while still enthralled by the enticing outlines of a dream that is rapidly fading away. As Jack says to Layla Oulupi, “You are a fantasy I’ve pursued all my life.” That wistful aura was prescient, given that the show coincided with the twilight years of the New Communalists and the passing of the peak years of the counterculture. Moon Over Morocco signaled that ZBS could sustain a niche audience in the post-network era of radio, but only through constant innovation in audio technology and vigilant attention to alternative funding sources and means of revenue. Moon Over Morocco added a field recording–based mode of dialogic adventure to ZBS’s theater of the mind-body, and that style was developed and refined in the next Jack Flanders series.

The revival of radio drama that began in the 1970s was fading by the early 1980s: NPR’s Earplay was canceled in 1981, and CBS Radio Mystery Theater (1974–82) the following year.80 ZBS not only survived but scored its biggest success yet with the debut of the science fiction series Ruby: The Galactic Gumshoe (1982–present). By the mid-1980s, ZBS was no longer functioning as a commune, and most of the original members, apart from Lopez, had moved away from the Fort Edward farmhouse. The mandate to expand consciousness remained part of ZBS’s productions, however, and by the 1980s, that aspect of the enterprise had taken on a nostalgic appeal for some listeners. Around this time, a senior producer at NPR stated that “yuppies” enjoyed ZBS shows because the “counter-culture” or “Remember the ’60s” references they contained reminded listeners of a time when “we were all interested in mysticism and other realities.”81

Figure 6.

Cover art for the Dreams of Rio compact disc (1987). Image courtesy of ZBS.

Figure 6.

Cover art for the Dreams of Rio compact disc (1987). Image courtesy of ZBS.

Close modal

The Jack Flanders adventures continued with a series that explored the aesthetic terrain first charted in Moon Over Morocco. The location of Dreams of Rio (1987) indicates the changing geographical imagination of the baby boom generation, from Morocco as hippy tourist destination to the Amazon region as ground zero for concern over the destruction of the world’s rain forests. Pan Am airlines was one of the series’ funders and provided Lopez and his collaborator, the composer Tim Clark, with tickets to Brazil so that they could make field recordings for the new show.82 Lopez and Clark took along one of the earliest digital recorders, a Sony PCM F-1 that recorded onto Betamax tapes. A rechargeable battery made the device portable, though it was still quite bulky by today’s standards.83 Lopez and Clark schlepped this 25-pound recorder across Brazil, with the result being a series that has a remarkably rich sound design composed of both urban and wilderness environments.

A dialogic formal structure is evident from the opening scenes of Dreams of Rio. We hear jungle sounds and find Jack struggling through what we assume to be swampy terrain. We soon discover, however, that Jack is actually in a shopping mall, and the frogs we hear in the background are croaking brand names like “Coca-Cola.” A shopper informs Jack that all the malls in America have merged into “one gigantic, endless mall.” Demoralized, Jack buys a ticket for a film in the mall theater, and while watching Black Orpheus (1959), a mysterious man says he’ll help Jack out of the mall if he’ll travel to Rio de Janeiro to pick up a statue for him. Jack agrees, and the adventure begins. From the start, then, Dreams of Rio is a “contrapuntal” narrative in Edward Said’s use of that term, since it thinks through and interprets together “experiences that are discrepant,” in this case, interpreting together American malls and Amazonian rain forests, popular fantasies of “romantic Rio” and more complicated realities.84

Following the pattern established by Moon Over Morocco, Dreams of Rio incorporates textual interruptions from field recordings and dialogue. For example, Jack runs into Mojo Sam in Bahia, Brazil, and learns from him about African religious practices in the region, and the painful history of slavery that can still be felt in the place. Jack also learns about the indigenous people of the region from an anthropologist named Freda. She tells Jack that indigenous groups around the world “have met disaster when they were discovered by ‘cultured’ Christian white men. Now they slaughter the Indians of the Amazon. The banks of this river are soaked with their blood.” As with Moon Over Morocco, the temporal scope of ZBS narratives allows time for dialogue and field recordings to interrupt the plot and add cultural and historical dimension to the adventure.

Dreams of Rio refined the sonic template established with Moon Over Morocco and set the standard for a string of Flanders adventures produced by Lopez over the next 20 years, all of which interweave mind-body themes, field recordings, textual interruption, and extended dialogue. Notably, discussion of political topics become a prominent component of the ZBS style during this period. In Dreams of India (1992), Jack has conversations about India’s colonial past, and the sayings of Rabindranath Tagore function along the lines of the proverbs in Moon Over Morocco. In Dreams of Bali (1992), we learn about local folk beliefs and hear conversations about the history of Dutch imperialism. In Dreams of Sumatra (1993), Jack learns about Islamic practices in the South Pacific, and about the matrilineal society Minangkabau. Dreams of the Blue Morpho (2002) is set in Costa Rica, which prompts discussion of the history of the United Fruit Company, colonialism, and environmental issues relating to the nation’s coral reefs. Though Fourth Tower of Inverness and Moon Over Morocco are the best-known installments in the Jack Flanders series, Lopez hit his stride in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, perfecting his suite of stylistic innovations and achieving a compelling balance of ZBS’s mind-body and dialogic tendencies.

To the extent that ZBS’s progressive politics became more legible during the Reagan era and beyond, the trajectory of the organization goes against the grain of Fred Turner’s critique of post-’60s techno-utopian rhetoric and countercultural figures such as Stewart Brand for helping to set the stage for conservative deregulatory politics.85 During that same period, the Flanders series developed an overtly progressive politics of radio style, and Lopez’s scripts became increasingly attentive to the cultural and political contexts of his mind-body adventures. ZBS thus suggests the methodological utility of a case-study approach to histories of countercultural media production, to avoid painting the movement in broad strokes or failing to consider the role of media aesthetics.

ZBS’s theater of the mind-body lasted beyond the countercultural moment, but only by adapting to an era of government deregulation, reduced public funding, and flexible work. No longer supported by a communal infrastructure or countercultural corporate sponsorship, and struggling to get a piece of the shrinking amount of public funding, Lopez had to pursue other revenue streams, including the sale of recordings from the ZBS back catalogue. ZBS set up a toll-free telephone number, built a mailing list, and began selling first audio cassettes and then CDs of the ZBS shows. As fewer and fewer public radio stations broadcast original dramas, ZBS also explored the potential for online distribution. Lopez launched the first ZBS website in 1989, and in 1998, the foundation worked with Apple to demonstrate QuickTime 3.0 with the release of Ruby 5. This was an early form of podcasting, since it involved delivering audio content via the internet, and the ZBS website allowed subscribers to stream hundreds of hours of content for a monthly fee.86 One radio producer observed that ZBS was “podcasting before podcasting existed.”87 In a manner that parallels Michele Hilmes’s argument about PBS and “crowdsourcing,” ZBS’s attention to a dedicated niche audience, exploitation of back catalogue, and exploration of online distribution reveal the organization to have been on the “leading edge” of what have become the norms of digital audio.88

The ZBS website is still going strong, with the last Jack Flanders series, Madonna in a Green Velvet Chair, released in 2018. ZBS has navigated dramatic shifts in the terrain of radio during its remarkable 45-year run, and along the way Lopez has reshaped the conventions of radio storytelling. Fan posts online show a listenership that has moved with him, from college radio to online audio. One listener recalls hearing Fourth Tower for the first time in 1972 on a “portable radio tuned to the local college station,” before getting “hooked” on the cassettes. Another describes a father who discovered Fourth Tower in college and shared it with his children on CD, and now a third generation is being introduced to the shows through streaming audio on the ZBS website. “It’s a great audio tradition to start,” the listener concluded.89 Lopez’s work with ZBS is a bridge across multiple eras of radio, a case study in communal media production, an archive of distinctive approaches to audio storytelling, and a sonic laboratory for the fostering of cultural dialogue. A great audio tradition, indeed.


Eleanor Patterson, “Reconfiguring Radio Drama after Television,” Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 36, no. 4 (2016): 652. Also see Eric Rothenbuhler and Tim McCourt,. “Radio Redefines Itself, 1947–1962,” in Radio Reader, ed. Michele Hilmes and Jason Loviglio (New York: Routledge, 2002), 368.


Patterson, 653.


Fred Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 4, 36.


Ibid., 54.


See Patricia Mellencamp, “Ant Farm Redux: Pyrotechnics and Emergence,” Journal of Film and Video 57, no. ½ (2005); Thomas Frank, Conquest of Cool (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997); Sam Binkley, Getting Loose: Lifestyle Consumption in the 1970s (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007); Aniko Bodroghkozy, Groove Tube (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001).


Neil Verma, Theater of the Mind (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), 222.


On adventure, see Brian Taves, The Romance of Adventure (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1993), 4–5, 11; Don D’Ammassa, Encyclopedia of Adventure Fiction (New York: Infobase Publishing, 2009), viii; Martin Green, Dreams of Adventure, Deeds of Empire (New York: Basic Books, 1979), 23.


My thinking is shaped by M. M. Bakhtin’s concept of “creative understanding,” a dialogic encounter of two cultures in which both are “mutually enriched.” M. M. Bakhtin, Speech Genres and Other Late Essays (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986), 6–7.


Thomas Lopez interviews, August 11, 2018.


Interview with the author, September 1, 2017. Bauersfeld’s work made Lopez realize that “Radio Drama is still Alive!” Interview with the author, September 6, 2017. See also:

11 Lopez experienced an epiphany while working at KPFA, when he was tasked with learning to edit sound on magnetic tape. “They gave me a children’s story that had been recorded on tape…and said, ‘edit out every other word.’ The second word was ‘elephant.’ I snipped it out [and] held it up…suddenly, this shiver went through me, like I had been zapped with some kind of energy, and I realized my life would be tape and sound.” Interview with the author, July 12, 2017.


Michael C. Keith, “Tune On…Tune In: The Rise and Demise of Commercial Underground Radio,” in Radio Reader, ed. Michele Hilmes and Jason Loviglio (New York: Routledge, 2002), 397.


Jon Kalish, “Radio Dramatist Finds Support from Fans for his Adventurous Works,” Current, August 1, 2016,; Interview with the author, September 1, 2017.


Interview with the author, July 12, 2017.


Interview with the author, August 16, 2017; Kalish, “Radio Dramatist Finds Support,” 2016.


Bob Bielecki, telephone interview with the author, September 23, 2017.


See transcripts of the interview here: In Re WUHY-FM, E. Educ. Radio, 4548 Mkt. St., Philadelphia, Pa., 24 F.C.C.2d 408 (1970),; Mildred Hall, “2 FCC Officials Hit Censorship,” Billboard, April 25, 1970, 78. See also: “Educational FMer Ticked by FCC for Test Case on 4-Letter Words,” Variety, April 8, 1970, 50; “WHYY Inc. Refuses to Bite,” Broadcasting, May 11, 1970, 27. Bob Bielecki, telephone interview with the author, September 23, 2017.


Interview with the author, July 12, 2017; Kalish, “Radio Dramatist Finds Support,” 2016.


Anderson had been working as a production assistant at KRON-TV, the NBC affiliate in San Francisco, and got to know Lopez when he had been working for KPFA. Interview with the author, September 29, 2017.


Lou K. Tubbs, “Unique Radio Production Studio Currently Operating in Vicinity,” The Post-Star (Glens Falls, NY), December 9, 1970, 3.; Bob Bielecki, telephone interview with the author, September 23, 2017;


Interview with the author, September 29, 2017.


Beverly Magid, “ZBS Walks It Like They Talk It,” Record World, November 4, 1972, 8, 39, 51.


Interview with the author, October 5, 2019. Also note that Lopez decided to take the fictional character’s name to avoid taking himself too seriously on the air. Interview with the author, August 16, 2017; Kalish, “Radio Dramatist Finds Support,” 2016.


Bob Glassenberg, “ZBS Media is cutting a record featuring Abbie Hoffman.…All the proceeds will go to the Mayday Conspiracy Trial Fund,” Campus News, Billboard, July 17, 1971, 29.


Meatball Fulton, “Campus News: Gotta Walk It Like You Talk It, Says Exec About Communication,” Billboard, November 13, 1971, 30, 48. See also Fulton, “How to Grow in Radio Without Bursting Through the Cabinet,” Billboard, September 18, 1971, 41, 45.


Beverly Magid, “ZBS Walks It Like They Talk It,” Record World, November 4, 1972, 8, 39, 51.


Timothy Miller, The 60s Communes (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1999), 141, 217.


“Youth Communes Dig Show Biz For Utopian Cabbage,” Variety, April 28, 1971, 59.

29; / These zany, off-the-cuff spots usually featured the voices of Lopez and Anderson. ZBS ads can be heard on the ZBS “Podcast 21,” found here:


Sam Sutherland, “Serial, Weekly Program to Form Sources for 250-College Network,” Billboard, May 13, 1972, 41. The program was to feature interviews with personalities such as George Harrison, Stewart Brand, and Ken Kesey, along with segments on “various ecological and cultural subjects.” Binkley describes the Whole Earth Catalog as offering “items useful to the former commune dweller, or maybe the suburban hobbyist with like aspirations”: Sam Binkley, Getting Loose: Lifestyle Consumption in the 1970s (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007), 117, 124-5.


“ZBS Syndicates Mystery Serial to College Radio,” Cashbox, August 26, 1972, 14.


Eleanor Patterson, “Reconfiguring Radio Drama after Television,” Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 36, no. 4 (2016): 652; Sam Sutherland,. “Serial, Weekly Program to Form Sources for 250-College Network,” Billboard, May 13, 1972, 41. On radio formatting, see Peter M. Lewis and Jerry Booth, The Invisible Medium (Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1990), 49.


Interview with the author, September 29, 2017. Patricia Anderson remembers that rock stations at this time were being purchased by “corporate media and were turning away from wild-ass stuff and focusing on playlists and formatted programming.”

34 One inspiration was Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet), who liked Lopez’s ads but suggested that he create something longer.

35; “Grunt Distributes 65 Radio Mysteries for Collegians,” Billboard, September 30, 1972, 21.


“ZBS Syndicates Mystery Serial to College Radio,” Cashbox, August 26, 1972, 14.


Interview with the author, September 7, 2017.


Patterson, “Reconfiguring Radio Drama after Television,” 2016, 655.


“ZBS ‘Inverness’ Expansion,” Billboard, February 10, 1973, 38.


Interview with the author, July 12, 2017.


Michael C. Keith, “Tune On…Tune In: The Rise and Demise of Commercial Underground Radio,” in Radio Reader, ed. Michele Hilmes and Jason Loviglio (New York: Routledge, 2002), 399.


Advertisement, Broadcasting, March 4, 1974, 46.


Sam Binkley, Getting Loose: Lifestyle Consumption in the 1970s (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007), 211–12, 117, 124–25.


Lord Jowls is marked as a figure from the pages of classic adventure literature by the likes of Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad, and H. Rider Haggard. We learn, however, that Lord Jowls’ sympathies are aligned with the “contemporary listeners” of Fourth Tower. Lady Jowls tells Jack that, as Lord Jowls “watched colonization” creep across the world, “he’s seen how ‘civilized’ man lied and cheated and pushed the natives from their own lands. And still it goes on.”


Interview with the author, July 12, 2017.




A website that promoted Lorick’s voice-over work described his voice as “warm, mature, romantic and rich…upscale and intelligent”; He served as the “voice” of the Chanel perfume company for many years and can be heard saying the brand slogan, “share the fantasy” in the famous Ridley Scott–directed Chanel television ad made in 1979.


Fred Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 8. See Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1978), 4–5.


On the spiritualism of the counterculture, see Binkley, Getting Loose, 2007, p. 135.


Sam Sutherland, “What’s Happening,” Billboard, October 13, 1973, 17.

53; Patterson, “Reconfiguring Radio Drama after Television,” (2016), 659; interview with the author, September 1, 2017. Patricia Anderson stated that NPR executives “weren’t interested in ‘indie’ audio or what was then considered ‘experimental’ programming.” She recalled that, by the end of the 1970s, NPR had “a virtual monopoly on anything that wasn’t top 40,” and it was a “constant battle” for ZBS to get “a foot in the door.” Interview with the author, September 29, 2017.


Patterson, “Reconfiguring Radio Drama after Television,” 2016, 657. Also see Keith, “Tune On, Tune In…”, (2002), 411; Peter M. Lewis and Jerry Booth, The Invisible Medium (Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1990), 47.

55 “Love, Serve, Remember” are aimed at “providing religious programming to fulfill stations’ programming commitments in that area”; see “ZBS Fund Is Formed,” Billboard, September 15, 1973, 18.


Interview with the author, July 31, 2017.


Interview with the author, July 12, 2017.


Lopez recalled meeting Bowles in a hotel in Tangier, where the author was wearing “a trench coat and wide-rimmed fedora” and looked like “he stepped out of a Bogie picture.” See “A Time in Tangier,” interview with Lopez, available here:


Interview with the author, July 12, 2017.


“ZBS ‘Inverness’ Expansion,” Billboard, February 10, 1973, 38.


Interview with the author, July 12, 2017.


Brian T. Edwards, Morocco Bound (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005), 249.


Edwards, Morocco Bound, 2005, 113.


Ibid., 284.


Interview with the author, July 31, 2017. The proverbs in the show are collected here:


On radio adaptations of Casablanca made during the 1940s and ’50s, see Barbara Klinger, “Pre-cult: Casablanca, Radio Adaptation, and Transmedia in the 1940s,” New Review of Film and Television Studies 13, no. 1 (2015):, 49, 54.


Sam Binkley, Getting Loose: Lifestyle Consumption in the 1970s (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007), 55–56.


Klinger, “Pre-cult,” 2015, 50.


Performed by the pianist George Schultz, released separately on ZBS.


Interview with the author, July 2017.


Robert Gooding-Williams, “Black Cupids, White Desires: Reading the Recoding of Racial Difference in Casablanca,” in The Black Columbiad: Defining Moments in African American Literature and Culture, ed. Werner Sollors and Maria Diedrich (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994), 202.


Brian T. Edwards, Morocco Bound (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005), 70.


Ibid., 67.


Ibid., 1.


Patterson, “Reconfiguring Radio Drama after Television,” 2016, 662–63.


“ZBS Brings Back Radio Drama,” Bluefield Daily Telegraph, November 23, 1987, A5.


Clark became a key collaborator for Lopez in the 1970s. His first job was composing music for a planetarium, accustomed to leaving room for a voice in his sound design. Clark’s music is a major part of the Ruby series. Interview, August 13, 2017.


Telephone interview with Tim Clark, July 25, 2017. Also email interview with Lopez, September 13, 2017.


Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Vintage Books, 1993), 32, 66.


Fred Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 8.


Jon Kalish, “Radio Dramatist Finds Support from Fans for his Adventurous Works,” Current, August 1, 2016,; interview, July 12, 2017.


Kalish, 2016.


Michele Hilmes, “PBS: Crowdsourcing Culture Since 1969,” in From Networks to Netflix: A Guide to Changing Channels, ed. Derek Johnson (New York: Routledge, 2018), 55.


Robert Hosley, April 9, 2017; Thia Sleszynski, July 24, 2017; Christine MacLaughlin Walker, February 18, 2017: all posted at