UD grad gets help from local songwriters for podcast project



Creator of musical drama says he loves community he’s found in Dayton

Can we find hope when there isn’t a future to look forward to? That’s the central question of the new podcast, “The End is Nigh,” a musical radio drama from Dayton transplant Tanner Elrod. However, it’s going to take financial support to learn the answer, which is why he launched an online crowdfunding campaign on Feb. 1.

“The Kickstarter will run for a month,” Elrod said. “Once we’ve met all of our funding goals, we’re planning on getting into Reel Love Recording Company in early March to record the show.”

Elrod, who earned his master’s degree in English from the University of Dayton, first started working on what became “The End is Nigh” when he was an undergraduate at Northern Kentucky University.

“I actually started doing it as a short story collection for a creative writing class and that didn’t really pan out,” he said. “I worked on it as a short film and that didn’t pan out. Then I got into doing podcasts and doing audio dramas. These are fictional stories that are told specifically through audio and are kind of reminiscent of the old-timey radio plays. I was kicking the idea around with some people and they said it would actually make a pretty interesting musical.”


In “The End is Nigh,” a group of strangers seek refuge in a church on the eve of the end of the world. Elrod has cast actors with singing experience to portray the characters, which include a dominatrix, a widow, a grifter and a disgraced man of God reflecting on the true price of being human. To help tell this story through music, Elrod enlisted a group of talented local songwriters such as David Payne, Amber Hargett, David Thurlow and Kyleen Downes.

“I’m not a musically inclined person,” Elrod said. “I love music and I love theater, but I have no clue how to play an instrument, read music or write music, so I reached out to Libby Ballengee to see if she knew of any local musicians that would be interested. I wanted this to be a product of Dayton’s artistic community so she gave me a list of people. I started reaching out and, luckily, everyone I reached out to said, ‘Yes,’ with the exception of two people.”

For Payne, the frontman for roots rockers the New Old-Fashioned, contributing a track to a musical podcast was an opportunity to stretch himself as a songwriter.

“It sounded like a fun challenge,” Payne said. “I did a lot of theater in high school. so it’s kind of familiar territory to me, but it was definitely a different challenge. I knew the song I ended up with was the finale of act one. Tanner had said it should be this big ballad, which I totally agreed with because of where it is in the show and the character I was writing for.

“It was almost easier in a way but harder in some other ways,” he continued. “I knew I needed to write a ballad and it needed to be from this specific character’s point of view on a particular subject. I was writing about something very specific so I knew where I had to get to. That was helpful in some ways and quite a bit restricting in other ways.”


Elrod said he was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming people from the local arts scene have been to this project from a relative unknown.

“Having not known any of these people beforehand, everybody is being very generous with the amount of time they can give us,” he said. “And, having never done a music-based project before, it’s been awesome to see how receptive they are. These songwriters are trusting me to be the creative mind behind it, but then they’re also letting me use the work they’ve created.”

That community support is one of the reasons Elrod and his wife stayed in the Miami Valley after graduating from UD.

“I’ve been here going on five years but we didn’t intend to stay,” he said. “We didn’t want to move back home but we didn’t think we’d like Dayton that much and we love it. I don’t know if we’ll ever move because we do genuinely love it here and we did not expect to. Part of that is, obviously, Dayton is growing. There is a lot of opportunity and a lot of really cool stuff going on but it’s also that sense of community.

“We’re active in our church, which is a big community for us,” Elrod added. “Then, for me, there is also this booming artistic, creative community, specifically on the theater side of things and there is such quality across the board. I don’t know if we’ll ever move anywhere else unless circumstance changes that. We are very loyal Daytonians at this point.”

For more information visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1953887329/the-end-is-nigh-an-original-musical-podcast.

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or e-mail at donthrasher100@gmail.com.

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