What is AIO? | The Town | Whit's End | The Characters
|What is Adventures in Odyssey, you ask?|
Adventures in Odyssey (AIO for short) was created by Phil Lollar and Steve Harris for Focus on the Family way back in 1987. Back then, they worked with people like Bob Luttrell, Chuck Bolte, Susan McBride, and Paul McCusker to create a family drama. After they had created characters and a storyline, thirteen episodes (now known as "Family Portraits") were written and aired on the Focus on the Family broadcast as a "test" in early 1987. The test was an overwhelming success and Focus decided to create a new drama series. The series, first titled Odyssey USA, aired its first episode on November 21, 1987. Since then, nearly 500 radio episodes have aired on thousands of radio stations. In fact, AIO is now the fifth most popular radio show in the United States. AIO has even expanded into 13 videos and 12 books.
Odyssey is a small town (about 35,000) people somewhere in the Midwest, but we are never told the state. It has it's own airport, bus station, theaters, computer stores, and much more. The next closest town in Connellsville, which often seems to be a rival to Odyssey. Odyssey has a small college named Campbell County Community College. Unlike some of the Midwest, Odyssey has mountains around it (Forest Mountain is often mentioned) and even a mountain lake or two. Trickle Lake is a popular place for Odyssey citizens. It has excellent fishing, a water park, and even a boat sales store. Newly built in Odyssey is the Timothy Center, a Christian Camp run by Tom Riley. Other places around Odyssey are Gower's Field, Miller's Ravine, and, of course, McAlester Park, which houses the most famous attraction in Odyssey: Whit's End.
Whit's End is a place where many AIO episodes take place. It is owned and operated by John Avery Whittaker (see below) and is called an "ice cream and discovery emporium." Not only does it have an old-fashioned soda fountain, serving everything from chocolate malts to pizza to sundaes, it has dozens of activities for children. It has a little theater where plays can be preformed, a library with many books to read (some available nowhere else), a train set that children can operate or build train cars, an "inventor's corner", and the Bible Room. The Bible Room has many different displays to help children learn about the Bible, including the often-mentioned Noah's Ark. Three of Whit's inventions exist in the Bible Room. His greatest is the Imagination Station, a machine that helps the occupant use his or her imagination station to experience the Bible or other parts of history. The Room of Consequence, another of Whit's inventions, helps the user see the possible consequences of his or her actions. The other big invention, The Transmuter, helps the user experience what it's like to "become" another person, to "walk in their shoes". Whit's End is also the home of the studio for a small radio station: Kids' Radio.
John Avery Whittaker
Often known as Whit to his friends, Mr. Whittaker is the main character in AIO. He is a "grandfatherly inventor" who is probably best compared to Ben Franklin in his wide variety of interests. Not only does he run Whit's End, he owns the Universal Publishing company, a business that publishes encyclopedias, textbooks, and items related to learning. He is also involved with the Department of Defense and National Security Agency as a consultant. Aside from inventing things, he is very involved with computers and has even developed programs for the Department. He is a helpful friend to the kids in Odyssey and is always willing to lend a listening ear.
Whit served in the navy in World War II and was given the Purple Heart for wounds received in the Battle of Guadalcanal. After the war, he married Jenny Whittaker and had three children: Jerry, Jana, and Jason. Jana married, had two children, and then divorced. Jerry Whittaker died in the Vietnam Conflict. For information on Jason, see below. After moving to Odyssey, Whit taught history at the public high school. After his wife died while fighting to save an old building (the Fillmore Recreation Center), Whit decided to open the building himself. It became Whit's End.
Whit recently went on a trip to the Middle East to take over an archeological mission. After finding some very interesting parchments and finishing the dig, Whit returned to Odyssey and is now, once again, running Whit's End. Whit has also opened a new Whit's End in the Oswald Heights section of Connellsville.
Connie is one of the most-loved AIO characters. She has worked at Whit's End since the fourth AIO episode and is one of the main reasons kids come to Whit's End. Although she is very curious and outspoken, she has an upbeat personality and is a very strong Christian (her Tuesday night Bible study is legendary). Her mother and father divorced years ago and she sees her father only on rare occasions. She recently graduated from high school (as valedictorian) and is now working at Whit's End and the Timothy Center. Also recently, she had a boyfriend named Robert Mitchell who worked for Novacom. "Mitch" died under mysterious circumstances in Plan B: Collision Course.
For the last five years, Eugene has been involved in a rather tumultuous relationship with Katrina Shanks. They were engaged for several years and got married at Katrina's father's bedside moments before he died. In Plan B: Missing in Action, the two of them disappeared with confidential research Eugene was working on.
Jason Whittaker, son of John, is one of the co-operators of Whit's End. Like his father, he was involved in spy agencies, and he often taps into the adventurous side of listeners. Jason shares much of his father's love of tinkering and adventure. He is more reckless than Whit or Jack, but is still a strong Christian. After considering a marriage with Tasha Forbes (another spy), Jason decided to stay unmarried in Odyssey. He recently was led to go into missions work and has shown up several places around the world working with radio stations.
As childhood friends, Jack and Whit grew up together. In fact, their lives wove together for many years. After breaking their relationship for over ten years, Jack visited Odyssey, expecting to find Whit, but found that he had left. After seeing that Whit's End would need new management, Jack was asked to run Whit's End for a while. He worked there for nearly four years, a quiet, but very committed Christian. After Whit returned, Jack married a woman named Joanne and they opened their own shop, the J & J Antique Gallery.
As a janitor around Odyssey, Bernard often frequents Whit's End. He is known as somewhat of an Eeyore-type, but is also a great story-teller and the host of television program called B-TV. He is a distant cousin of Eugene.
Tom is an old friend of Whit (he calls him "John Avery") and has been the coach of various sports teams, served as Odyssey's mayor through its most difficult times, and runs an apple farm. He owns horses and is known for his wisdom and "country sense." His son, Timmy died in a tragic boating accident and his wife, Agnes, lives in a home for the those who can't take care of themselves. She suffers from manic depression, but Tom tries his best to help her all he can. Tom recently opened the Timothy Center, a Christian camp and conference center. Novacom recently built a broadcast tower on Tom's land.
Operator of the Electric Palace, an electronics warehouse, Bart is one of the more devious characters in Odyssey. He has tried to become mayor on three occasions, but has always failed. He will try to make money however he can. His son, Rodney, is the resident bully in Odyssey. Rodney used to run a gang called "The Bones of Rath", but since serving time in jail, the gang seemed to break up. More recently, Rodney seems to have the bones back together.
There are many other Odyssey characters. Margaret Faye is the current mayor. Many children have come and gone throughout the program. The series villain was Dr. Regis Blackgaard. He was involved in Odyssey for many years, while trying to develop a deadly virus. However, Dr. Blackgaard was killed in an explosion of his own bomb under Whit's End. His brother, Edwin Blackgaard owns the Harlequin Dinner Theatre and is a very Shakespearean actor, along with his assistant Walter Shakespeare.