The History
Louis L’Amour
Audio Dramas

by Beau L'Amour

About 20 years ago, several mainstream publishers began to notice the growing audio publishing market. There was a lot of experimentation as different companies began to explore the various possibilities in the business of putting books on tape. Several forms, other than the single voice reading typical of today, were initially developed.

Because of the reliability of L’Amour sales, Bantam has often used a L’Amour product as it’s opening foray in a new and untried arena.  Jenny Frost, an executive with the new division, Bantam Audio Publishing, came out to California to discuss the medium with Louis.

The initial approach was to use L’Amour short stories for a shorter, and when compared to an unabridged novel, less expensive product.  Louis was naturally hesitant to put his old, and often hastily written, short stories into a new and untried market.  To give the stories a greater “production value” and to differentiate the Bantam product from the rest of the marketplace, Louis and Mrs. Frost decided to present them in a format similar to the classic radio dramas of the 1930s and ‘40s.

Veteran producer David Rapkin and director Charles Potter were hired and started creating a sample show; "Where Buzzards Fly."  To create the audioplay, the story was simply transcribed into script form, giving the actors each line of dialogue and handing the descriptions to a narrator.  Once production was finished it became obvious that while Buzzards was exactly the right length of 60 minutes, many other short stories wouldn’t be. 

So, unlike the normal “book on tape” where an actor reads the author’s text verbatim, the dramatized programs became adaptations of the original work.  A completely new script was written in a manner specifically intended to present the story as drama.  Often there are quite a few differences from the novel or short story; differences that enable the story to be told more through scenes than narration and allow the production to meet a specific (usually 60 minute) requirement as to length.

I first came into the program to oversee the adaptation process along with casting and other aspects of production.  Many of the scripts that followed were written by Charles Potter, Katherine Doughty, Charles Van Eman, and myself.

During the time I was working as the Supervising Producer, I wrote and directed Unguarded Moment, produced by Paul O’Dell and starring my friend John Putch, in order to try to teach myself the production end of the business. I supervised many scripts (and wrote and rewrote quite a few myself), training both young and old writers how to write for the particular type of production that we had developed. Over the years I believe we did some sixty dramatized shows.  In the beginning we were doing as many as six or seven a year.

The few times I produced an audio drama on my own in Los Angeles and when I eventually began cutting our shows for commercials so that we could run them on the radio, I worked in the recording studio with Paul O'Dell, my old friend and eventually the webmaster of the Louis L'Amour web site.  When the time came to produce Son of a Wanted Man both Charlie Van Eman, Paul O’Dell, as well as David Rapkin in New York, were there to help.

I believe that at this time, the Louis L’Amour Dramatized Audio Productions have had the longest production run and the greatest popularity of any drama series created for the audio publishing market.




The History of
"Son of a Wanted Man"

by Beau L'Amour

Some time in the 1980s I ended up working as a sound engineer on an independent film for a friend of mine named John Putch. The film was called "Waiting to Act" and it documented the fictional and often comical struggles of a number of aspiring young actors who worked in a restaurant in Hollywood. There were a whole group of us including myself and Paul O'Dell, that just like the actor/waiters in the movie, were trying to find our places in the business of theater and movies. Occasionally we came together on films where one or another of us had a position of some small responsibility.

The lead role in Waiting to Act was played by a guy named Charles Van Eman and though we did not know one another particularly well, we both stayed in the group and eventually even worked on another film, doing the same jobs ... Charlie in front of the camera while Paul and I were far behind it.

Charlie was also involved as an actor in the audio production of "Merrano of the Dry Country", which I wrote and directed and Paul produced and edited. It was an attempt to produce a real state of the art show and a great improvement over "Unguarded Moment". Also in the cast were Will McMillian ("Son of a Wanted Man's" Ben Curry) and Nicholas Ballas (Molina). Howard Gale, "Son of a Wanted Man's" engineer, also helped out.

At some point Charlie and I started talking about writing, and eventually discussed collaborating on a movie script. Soon we began an adaptation of my father's novel, Son of a Wanted Man. Together we wrote a draft or two but around this same time Charlie went off and spent the next several years on the East coast. Throughout that time, he made appearances as an actor in other Louis L'Amour audios that were recorded in New York City.

After my father had passed away I began focusing more and more on working in the publishing and audio publishing business where I supervised the writing and production of our dramatized shows along with designing cover art, editing and occasionally ghost writing parts of books of short stories, producing a fiction magazine, and writing a great deal of jacket copy. Slowly my attention had become more and more diverted from working in film.

Eventually the Bantam program of dramatized audios was slowing down, Charlie Van Eman was back in LA and working on the Louis L'Amour Biography Project, Paul had moved to Washington State, and I was looking into other things altogether. The script for "Son of a Wanted Man" still sat on my shelf and continued to call to me to put it into some form of production. I still had a love for theater that was not being satisfied in the book business. I realized that I didn't need film to do what I loved, especially as the costs and politics withheld so much of the enjoyment of the process. Perhaps I could make one more try at the blind art of radio.

A few years ago we decided that Louis L'Amour need a better presence on the world wide web. It was an area that I knew very little about so I called Paul to ask a few, rather uninformed, questions. The last of these questions was if he knew anyone who might run a web site for us. Purely by accident, I had hit the right moment.

Paul and I started coming up with the concepts for the Louis L'Amour web site ( We also imagined several projects that we could do in conjunction with it, things that the opportunity of working together again would make possible. The first of these was to resurrect our old love of "Radio Drama" style productions. I dusted off the script to "Son of a Wanted Man" and took a careful look at it. I had learned a few tricks in the intervening years so I went to work on it.


Pre-Production and The Script

Turning a novel into an audio script

and Casting

Getting it all on "Tape"

Recording Session

Recording Sound Effects

Putting the Pieces Together

Editing and Sound Effects


Mixing and Mastering.

What's Next?


Son of a Wanted Man

Home | The Story | The Perpetrators (Crew) | The Co-Conspirators (Cast)

The History and Making of Son of a Wanted Man
The History | Novel to Script | Pre-Production | Recording Dialog | Recording Sound Effects
Editing the Dialog and Sound Effects | The Musical Score | Mixing and Mastering | What's Next?

Photo Galleries
Location Photos | In the Recording Studio | In the Field (Recording Sound Effects)

Audio Sound Bytes
Trailer | Music

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