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Blanket Fort Radio Theater

A Storytelling Initiative from SIU Press in Collaboration with the SIU Creative Writing Program and WSIU

Blanket Fort Radio Theater (BFRT) is a collection of student-produced podcasts in the form of serialized audiobooks. The books chosen for BFRT are previously published titles from Southern Illinois University Press. In contrast to standard audiobooks, BFRT podcasts have a distinctive sound—an “SIU signature sound,” if you will—that features musical underscoring and many actors playing various roles giving the recordings the nostalgic feel of radio theater productions.

You can find BFRT podcasts on NPR One, Spotify, iTunes, or the WSIU podcast page. At least one new episode will be available each week. Each episode is 15-18 minutes in length. Search for Blanket Fort Radio Theater. 


Based on the book A Knight of Another Sort: Prohibition Days and Charlie Birger by Gary DeNeal.
The first two episodes will be available July 9, 2020; one new episode will debut each Thursday thereafter.
(listen to the trailer here)
(purchase the book here)

Episode 1: Charles Birger has gone down in southern Illinois history as a bootlegger, enemy of the Ku Klux Klan, and even as the reigning "kingpin of the Saline County underworld" during the Prohibition Era. In this episode, we meet Charlie as he emigrates from Russia to America, escapes a murder conviction, and settles in southern Illinois, his home for the rest of his life.

Episode 2: In 1913, southern Illinois bootlegger and former cowboy Charlie Birger moves to the small mining community of Ledford, where he quickly ingratiates himself by selling liquor to the locals and providing them with employment. However, not all the locals are fond of his breaking the law.

Episode 3: When police raid a local saloon, Charlie Birger uses it as an opportunity to take down one of his competitors in the liquor business, but not everything goes to plan. 

Based on the book The Undaunted Women of Nanking: The Wartime Diaries of Minnie Vautrin and Tsen Shui-Fang, edited and translated by Hua-ling Hu and Zhang Lian-hong, and supplemented with material from American Goddess at the Rape of Nanking: The Courage of Minnie Vautrin, by Hua-lin Hu
(listen to the trailer here)
(purchase the books here and here)

SURVIVED BY ONE--Coming soon! 
Based on the book Survived By One: The Life and Mind of a Family Mass Murderer by Robert E. Hanlon with Thomas V. Odle
​(listen to the trailer here)
(purchase the book here)

MOTHER JONES--Coming soon! 
Based on the book Mother Jones, The Miners’ Angel by Dale Fetherling
(purchase the book here)

Amy J. Etcheson, Interim Co-Director
Southern Illinois University Press

Pinckney Benedict, Professor
SIUC Department of English, Creative Writing (Fiction)

Follow us on Facebook! 


InFocus interview with Jennifer Fuller, 7-6-2020

SIU Today, news release

Inside the Blanket Fort: a behind-the-scenes look at the making of BFRT, hosted by Amy J. Etcheson and Pinckney Benedict, broadcast on WSIU Radio each Thursday at 8:43 AM and 5:44 PM
Week One

Week Two

Week Three