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We Have A Date!


On Friday, September 9 at 11:25 AM, we have a once-in-a-lifetime, 10-minute date with astronaut Takuya Onishi on the International Space Station!

Doors to the auditorium will open at 10:30 AM.

Anyone can attend, but we’re handing the radio over to teens to ask some all-important (and fun) questions. While awaiting contact you can check out local organizations sharing their space and science knowledge AND we’ll be launching paper rockets on the lawn. Watch our Facebook event page for up to date information and fun facts about the ISS.

ARISS lets students worldwide experience the excitement of talking directly with crew members of the International Space Station, inspiring them to pursue interests in careers in science, technology, engineering and math, and engaging them with radio science technology through amateur radio. Made possible with help from the Douglas County Amateur Radio Club and Lawrence Creates Makerspace.

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Summer HAM Jam!

This weekend at Wells Overlook Park, we’ll be talking to as many HAM Radio operators around the world as possible!

The Douglas County Amateur Radio Club’s Field Day runs Saturday, June 25 from 1–10 PM and Sunday, June 26 from 8 AM–1 PM. All ages welcome!

We’ll have a radio specifically for “non-hams” to make supervised contacts. Swing by to learn about HAM radios and get ready for our contact with the International Space Station in September. Questions? Miriam‘s got answers!

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Revisiting the Star Wars Radio Drama

Like William, I was lucky enough to be born into a good, Force sensitive, Star Wars loving household. As a kid, my brother and I watched Star Wars movies several times a month. My parents were fairly religious and had strong opinions about what media was “appropriate for the Sabbath.”

It may seem odd that laser swords, spaceships, and Death Stars made the cut off (along with The Sound of Music, The Princess Bride, and Disney movies), but they did, and watching the original trilogy became a regular Sunday activity. The fourth, fifth, and sixth Gospels. We were in deep.

Action figures, video games, and Legos (this was before Lego video games or we would’ve had those too) all branded Star Wars were an integral part of my childhood and teenage years. To be honest, Star Wars is a large part of my adulthood. For my 28th birthday and much to my spouse’s (and to a certain extent, my own) incredulity, I bought myself a Lego Star Wars set. An expensive one. I spent my birthday sitting on the ground in our living room watching The Clone Wars as I built it. You only live once, right?

All this started in 1977, when visions of a galaxy far far away completely mesmerized my 13 year old dad. The movie that later became known as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was like nothing he’d ever seen. As one of ten kids getting by on my grandpa’s teacher’s salary, it wasn’t often that my dad got to go to the theater, but he was industrious. Scrimping and saving he managed to see A New Hope a couple of times in theaters thanks to his paper route earnings. Some of his friends saw it well over a dozen times and had every line memorized. They’d reenact the entire movie by heart. They’d talk about it in their radio club at school. No wonder I ended up so nerdy.

My newest Star Wars experience was something with which my dad was already well acquainted.  The Star Wars Radio Drama. I didn’t know this existed until my dad offhandedly mentioned listening to “the Star Wars tapes” back in the 80s.

Tapes? What tapes?

In 1981, George Lucas “sold” the rights to produce a radio serial version of A New Hope to KUSC-FM, UCS’s public radio station, for a dollar. Looking at it objectively, the idea seems a little preposterous; a large part of Star Wars’ appeal, especially when it first came out, is the sight of it—special effects, iconic spaceships, strange creatures, and foreign planets—it really does transport you to a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away.

But thanks to some great performances from Mark Hamill and Anthony Daniels who reprise their roles as Luke Skywalker and C-3PO, as well as a talented voice cast (who if I’m honest, sometimes ham it up a little too much), liberal use of the original sound effects, and access to John William’s iconic film score soon NPR was touting “you may think you’ve seen the movie; wait til’ you hear it!”

The radio drama is broken up into thirteen roughly thirty minute episodes and clocks in at just under 6 hours as a whole. That’s a lot of radio drama for a two hour movie. But it works. Brian Daley, who adapted the original screenplay, really wanted to add characterization, including some additional backstory, to the cast. That’s probably where this adaptation shines the most, adding to the movies some of us have seen hundreds of times. I particularly appreciate that Luke and Leia both have brief moments where they get to grieve their tremendous losses in the radio drama. Ben Kenobi’s fate gets some extra attention as well.

There are little additions like that, but there are also all new scenes. Obi Wan gets in a little more training with Luke. There are extra scenes with Han Solo showing more of his rascally side, as well as scenes elaborating Darth Vader’s cruelty. There’s an entire episode dedicated to Leia’s backstory. You also get to finally meet Luke’s friends at Toshi Station, and spoilers: they’re not great.

Add all that new material to compelling performances and great production value and you have a hit. When the Star Wars Radio Drama first aired it broke NPR records with over 750,000 listeners. One of them was my dad. I asked him how many times he relistened to the tapes once he got a hold of them. “We probably listened to it ten thousand times.”

And why not? It’s not perfect, but the Star Wars Radio Drama adds a new depth into a classic story that so many of us have come to love. And most importantly, it’s a lot of fun. And luckily for us, we don’t have to wait years between episode; the library’s copy comes with dramatizations of both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. So get listening!

Oh yeah, and may the Force be with you.

—Ian Stepp is an Information Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.