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Thoughts on Radio and This American Life

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I really enjoyed listening to “Switched at Birth” on This American Life. The title of the episode immediately caught my attention because I had always if such things actually did happen at hospitals with newborns. As I began to listen to the radio show, I was shocked to hear that these girls that were taken home by the wrong families didn’t actually find out about it until they were in their forties! I also felt it kind of mean and selfish that the mother who realized that they had been switched on the day that they brought them home from the hospital, kept it to herself. Her excuse was that she didn’t want to disgrace the doctor by telling him that he had given them the wrong baby, but it’s a mistake that will affect you your whole life because it has to do with your own child. I’m glad that Glass included characters from both families so that we could hear the story in different perspectives and it was really sad to hear how one of the girls that was switched was very welcome and accepted in both families, but the other one wasn’t. I started to think about what I would have done in that situation and I still honestly don’t know how I would’ve taken it. I think I would have probably been very mad at both families for not doing something about it sooner or at least letting me know at a much earlier age. I think it’s also sad to see that you’re meeting your biological family for the first time and so they’re still considered strangers even though you’re blood related to them.
As I was listening to the show I couldn’t help but to note everything that I had heard and read previously from Glass’ videos and the Radio book. In his video, Glass stressed the fact that verbal story telling ought to only include anecdotes that follow one another instead of explaining or backing up one another. It had never crossed my mind that there was a distinction between these different styles of writing but now that it has been brought to my attention, I can definitely see how they differ. While the characters spoke, it was cool to see how they were in fact telling one anecdote after another so it was really full of action which kept me listening. The one thing that I was extra eager to listen for as I heard the show was if I could tell exactly when and where the editors cut and added different parts. My favorite part in Radio was when they were explaining how they stripped down the twelve hours of audio and extracted only about fifteen minutes from it. I thought it was really neat how they would be sure to keep pauses and breaths because it would make it sound more realistic so I would pay extra attention to the pauses and breaths in the show to see if what came after was part of the original audio or if they edited it in.
Glass was absolutely right about the music adding a lot of character to show. He mentioned in Radio how it just makes all the elements of storytelling come to life and the images flow a lot easier. I would also make note of when the music would stop, because that was when something very important was being said and then the music would restart which was when a new topic was being introduced. Glass had also said how after someone said something crucial, there would be a pause so that people could digest what had just been said and then reflect on it. Reflection was also very easy to distinguish in the show: after someone told their story, they would reflect and their emotions would come out.
I thoroughly enjoyed this activity because I thought it was really exciting to hear about all of the backstage secrets and exactly what it takes to make such a successful show like this one. One could tell that a lot of teamwork is put into it and it really looks like everyone has a great time doing their job. I especially loved reading Radio and watching the videos prior to watching the actual show because it kept me alert and it made me appreciate what I was hearing a lot more since it was easier to notice all of the different dynamics and effort put into it.

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