By MacKenzie Brady
Washington College’s radio club, Radio Free George, is “made by the students for the students,” according to their Instagram bio.
The radio club features different podcasts hosted by students.
According to Radio Free George’s Instagram page, “Jailbreak” is set at “The Jarden Green Penitentiary [which] takes an abstract approach to prisoner reform. Anyone who can make it through the trials and tribulations within, and escape the building’s walls, will be considered free to go. That doesn’t mean the Warden makes it easy though.”
“Jailbreak,” hosted by senior Jackson Filicicchia, is a “radio drama,” which means it is a serialized radio show whose story will continue week after week.
“I have a story to tell, this is a medium, why not explore it?” Filicicchia said.
Radio Free George had always interested Filicicchia from his early days on campus, so since he had this story, he figured it was worth a try to get it out there.
According to Filicicchia, “Jailbreak” began as a sort of game when he was a sophomore or junior in high school. The project has spanned from, roughly, 2014 until now.
“I had a notebook, I drew a picture of a guy standing in a jail cell, passed the notebook to one of my friends and told him to write down what happened next,” Filicicchia said of the origins of “Jailbreak.” “He said, ‘The guy should dig with a spoon,’ I drew the next page, and then handed the notebook to somebody else. That continued on, it spiraled excessively, and over the course of several years the concept has expanded a bit, but the general concept of ‘this is a guy trying to get out of jail’ has remained.”
The original image for “Jailbreak” was of a guy in a jail cell with nothing but a key, a window, and a pumpkin. That first run with his friends spanned five notebooks, which Filicicchia still has.
The version of “Jailbreak” that will exist in the podcast has been refined, but a lot of the decisions are from that very first run.
“I’ve run the game of sorts verbally many times now — just like, I walk up to a person and, if they’re willing, we spend about an hour or two running through the scenario,” Filicicchia said.
“I’ve had a lot of interesting things happen as a result of that, and good pieces from various things over the years have wound their way into the bigger story, but by and large that first one was the ‘gold standard,’ so to speak,” he said.
“Jailbreak” was inspired by the sub-genre of online comic books which encourage readers to help decide what happens next.
“I just wanted to try that, but in a less digital format,” Filicicchia said. “But now here I am running kind of the opposite — trying to make a podcast out of a story.”
The podcast version of “Jailbreak” will not be listener interactive, but Filicicchia is going to try to maintain the feel of the listener having agency through his narration of the pre-determined plot.
While Filicicchia has never formally done voice acting before, he said that after every theatre production he has been in — both in high school and at WC — someone has come up to him afterwards to say he has a good voice and should go into radio.
“I have tried this with most of my friends at this point — a good couple strangers — and it’s fascinating the patterns that do and don’t emerge — things that some people do differently, some things that people never do. I said I had a map of the prison — there remains a room in the jail that only a single person has ever been in,” Filicicchia said.
The “Jailbreak” story kicked off a universe that consists of nine different stories.
“‘Jailbreak’ is the one I feel like I have the most obligation to tell because it started things off,” Filicicchia said.
Filicicchia said that, because “Jailbreak” is ever-changing depending on who he is talking to, the official story doesn’t actually exist. He looks forward to having something concrete that he can go back and listen to and go “Yeah, this is the story, here it is in all its glory.”
There is not yet an air date for the “Jailbreak” podcast.
Anyone interested in getting involved with Radio Free George is encouraged to fill out the Qualtrics survey in their Instagram bio, @radiofreegeorge.