The Earthquake



Well, it's been a couple of hours now.  Miranda may be in some 
pretty serious trouble there, and Samantha can't be the one 
to come help her, because she's already busy helping people 
at the temporary shelter she and Susan have been setting up..



Well ladies and gentlemen in the listening audience, 
today is a banner day for Milford-Haven,--and they 
said it couldn't be done. Yes folks, it's true, 
we have survived one of the fabled California earthquakes. 
The transmitter was having some trouble there for a while, 
but yours truly here at KMH has everything under control, 
and we are once again on the air.

Now listen up, 'cause this is an important announcement. 
The Environmental Planning Commission wants you to know 
they have set up a temporary shelter down at the Town Hall, 
so if any of you finds himself, or herself, in a house 
that isn't safe, or isn't standing, get on down 
to the shelter, and they'll take good care of you.


Stay tuned to KMH, because believe me I'm going to 
bring you all the news as it comes in here to the station...



Good, I was hoping he'd get that announcement on the air.
 Well, at least we know he's alright. Susan, get back to 
the phone, would you? I don't want you hurting yourself 
again hobbling around on those crutches.


Right, Samantha.  I guess that's about the only 
really useful thing I can do at this point. 
It was still dead, though, the last time I tried it.

From the episode title, you already know what happens. But the challenge was figuring out how to present an event that affected every character simultaneously. My solution was to start each scene with a “back a moment in time” narration. In this way I could present the shock, surprise, or concern in real time for each storyline, rather than making the listener navigate through a series of “having hads.”

Since fictional Milford-Haven is a California town, I always knew we’d have to do an earthquake storyline. Of course, it’s always better to write from our own experience. Having grown up in Japan, I’d experienced many minor quakes throughout my childhood. We had specific protocols both at home and at school: turn off the gas; stay away from windows where glass could break; stand inside door frames that were structurally stronger than walls. Usually by the time we took these steps, the temblor would be finished.

It would be two years after the debut of Milford-Haven USA on the BBC that my home city Los Angeles would suffer a 6.7 magnitude blind thrust earthquake that killed 57 people, injured thousands and caused billions of dollars of damage. This was an entirely different experience, and I went on to write about it in the novels based on my radio drama. I also did much more extensive research on seismology in general, and the dynamics of California fault lines in specific, which proved both fascinating and predictive. So this radio drama episode foreshadowed what would later be written in the ongoing Milford-Haven narrative.

But in this episode, we showed the potential for injury, the usual lack of preparation, and the fear. We also wanted to show how emergencies tend to bring out the best in people. Suddenly compassion surmounts selfishness, and helping others becomes a natural and automatic response.

This brings Season 2 of our podcast to a conclusion. Will Miranda be all right? Will everyone remain safe? Will Milford-Haven recover? To find out . . . you’ll be able to tune in to Season 3, which will start in a few weeks.

So now is your opportunity either to download this episode, or to binge listen to all of Season 2, tune in to your favorite device, and join us in . . . Milford-Haven!