I chose to listen to the episode called “Heretics“. I found the format to have a lot more strengths than I was expecting. Having seen the This American Life show before on Netflix, I felt that the video component really played to the benefit of the storytelling and was a little apprehensive about opening up to an audio only format. Despite my initial reservations, I was still able to hook onto the story that they were telling very easily. As Ira mentioned in this video on storytelling, and is also emphasized in “Radio”, they do a good job of finding stories that do not just tell the simple facts, as would an impersonal documentary, but they tell the stories of people and characters. I felt that the use of the audio clips of conversation from the Reverend in this episode, really helped me to connect to his emotional situation. While I could not study the expression in the face, as I could with the video versions, I found even more carefully observing the emotion in the voices. We did not need to deeply explore the views of those that opposed him as a documentary might.
The biggest weakness I perceived with the audio-only format actually came when there were longer sequences of background information. While this information is necessary, it is definitely the slowest and most un-gripping portion of the clip. It is in moments like these, that the use of video and images in a fuller version are really beneficial.
One of the things that I appreciated the most which he touched on repeatedly was the use of a very conversational style of communication, both when telling a story, conducting the interview, or even typing at a computer. He suggests that we don’t need to talk like people on the news do with lots of word emphasis, but rather to be inviting with our storytelling. I definitely felt this coming across while listening to the episode. If there had been sixty minute long presentation that was given as someone would on the news, it would be excruciatingly boring and hard to sit through. This, on the other hand, was easy to sink into. The minutes go by much quicker with this level of engagement.
All in all, I would generally prefer a video-based format if I were going to more frequently indulge in this type of storytelling. For its restrictions, however, I found this to be as very interesting format, and definitely better than just reading an article.