Solar Driftwood is an independent podcast production studio specializing in humor and storytelling. We produce our own shows, and partner with individuals and organizations to help them create their own. We believe in the power of words to trigger curiosity, and we harness that power to create original and intimate audio.
Interested in partnering with Solar Driftwood?
“With infinite complacency people went to and fro over the earth about their little affairs, serene in the assurance of their dominion over this small spinning fragment of solar driftwood which by chance or design man has inherited out of the dark mystery of time and space.”
— “The War of the Worlds”, 1938, Mercury Theater of the Air
Solar Driftwood is the production company behind “Optophobia” — a fake talk show about fake conspiracy theories featuring very real improv comics — with more improv-based podcasts on the horizon.
Creator, Host, Producer
We’re in the midst of a disinformation age, and disinformation is this podcast’s currency. Optophobia features some of the funniest improv comics in the nation’s capital creating a new conspiracy theory each season. The show is itself a false flag. A cloaked, if emphatic and hilarious, defense of truth and journalism in the age of fake news. Learn more about Optophobia.
“Highly amusing…” — The Washington Post
The Colored American Opera Company
Between the Liner Notes, Episode 17
In 1873, just a decade after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, a Spanish American veteran of the U.S. Marine Band taught a French style of Opéra Bouffe to the choir of an all-Black church in the nation’s capital. Together they created the first American opera company — Black or white — in the nation.
“This 19th-century story may have been lost entirely if not for some 21st-century curiosity and ingenuity.” — The New York Times
Listen to The Colored American Opera Company
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What We Do
Develop our own shows, focused on comedy and storytelling.
Help comics and storytellers develop, promote and produce their own shows.
Through Solar Driftwood Studios, produce white-label projects for organizations and brands.
Have an idea for a podcast?
Whether you already have a solid idea for a podcast, or you want a creative partner from that aha! moment to launch, Solar Driftwood can take that idea and help you:
- Structure and script it
- Develop and refine it
- Create the artwork and other infrastructure around it
- Record, edit and push it out into the world
Solar Driftwood Studios
A podcast is a great tool to help make an emotional connection with potential clients or customers. We’ll do a deep dive to understand your business, help conceptualize a podcast for your brand, then produce your show. We can also use podcasting to help make your internal communications a destination, rather than a bus stop, for your employees.
Who is Solar Driftwood
Tim Townsend, a former reporter for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The Wall Street Journal, is the founder of Solar Driftwood Media. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone and Esquire. He is the author of “Mission at Nuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis,” and the host/producer of the podcast “Optophobia,” which The Washington Post called “highly amusing.”
What is Solar Driftwood
A little after 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 30, 1938, Orson Welles began a Mercury Theater of the Air production of “The War of the Worlds.” Welles had worked with a playwright named Howard Koch to adapt H.G. Wells’s 1898 novel into a radio play. At the time, news bulletins about Adolf Hitler pushing the world toward war regularly interrupted radio programming. Welles and Koch designed the broadcast to mimic the style of those news bulletins precisely.
“I had conceived the idea of doing a radio broadcast in such a manner that a crisis would actually seem to be happening,” Welles said later, “and would be broadcast in such a dramatised form as to appear to be a real event taking place at that time, rather than a mere radio play.”
While the concept came from Welles, the radio play’s words came from Koch, who moved “The War of the Worlds” Martian invasion from England to New Jersey. He gave the script enough contextual details about an actual town called Grovers Mills that, in tandem with the dramatic reading of the actors playing newscasters and man-on-the-street interviewees, it caused what the New York Times called “a wave of mass hysteria” among listeners across the country.
Scholars have since estimated that of the six million people who heard the broadcast, one million believed it to be true. The mass panic caused by “The War of the Worlds” was arguably the first viral moment of the broadcast age. And the introduction Welles read, just before the fake news bulletins began, set the scene: we are cosmically insignificant, spinning around the universe on this piece of solar driftwood.