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God is in the Radio

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I really loved Ira Glass’s take on the “building blocks” of stories—the way he approaches storytelling from an audio perspective is really cool. The way he talks about anecdotes and stories in their purest forms was pretty cool—even really simple, “this, then this, then this,” stories can become really powerful, even if the basic plot is pretty interesting; it creates a sense of momentum, according to Glass, that allows for an audience’s participation and investment in the material—they just feel driven and drawn in by the story and want to know what comes next. The cool thing about an audio story is that beyond just the facts laid out, you’re able to use ambient noise, voice-acting, the actual tone and pitch and feel of the story to push readers along.  The thing is, though, an audio story can fail if it lacks one or more of the essential parts—and as Glass says, there’s tons that can go wrong. From the creative process, to the actual production, tons and tons of time and effort go into the process. I should have heeded Glass’s advice a little more carefully. I thought audio would be just as fast and easy as I find writing, but man, it takes so much time.

Jad Abumrad (which is a pretty sweet name) has a pretty cool idea about how radio creates empathy, and I would say the biggest thing I took away from his video is that “the coolest thing about radio is what it lacks.” There’s no pictures—so the author and the audience are in a partnership, where they have to work together to paint the images and convey the story. Way cool. Seriously—that has always been my favourite part of any creative work; no work exists in a vacuum and there is never, never a one-to-one ratio between what the author imagines and writes/puts down/records and what the audience perceives. Ever. And that means that somewhere between the author and the audience there is a creative process—not just on the author’s part, but on ours as well. And being able to tap into that is part of being a successful creator. “Radio never dies.” Four for you Jad Abumrad. You go, Jad Abumrad.

I listened to three of The Truth’s short Movies For Your Ears, and they were PHENOMENAL. The first one I listened to was called The Modern Prometheus and it COMPLETELY blew me away. Here we had the story of an artificial, intelligent “neural” network—an insurance company’s computer, that sort of ended up taking over a small corner of the world through well placed political ads. Incredible. And not just for the sake of power—no. This computer wanted a family. FRIENDS. Holy balls. This story blew me away, and I’m going to listen to it again and again—the computerized voices, the acting, the creepy background music… everything was spot on. And beyond that, the interspersed political ads were SO CONVINCING (despite being, as far as I can tell, entirely fictional) that at first, I was annoyed like, god, why do I have to listen to stupid ads before listening to this podcast. But they were part of the story.  So fantastic. The next one I listened to was called Third Party and was a creepy (woo, I love creepy) story about a serial killer—a little cliché, a little pastiche, but in the way that I love. I love old fashioned melodrama, and this really hit the spot with its slightly over the top sound effects—like the cocking of the gun and the fight scenes. So fun. So creepy. And slightly inspiring! The final story I listened to was a submission-inspired one called The Death of Poe and though it wasn’t my favourite, it was cool that we were able to hear how the listener’s submission was converted to a podcast story through the overlay of voice acting and music, sound effect, and heightened drama. Also, rats are and continue to be creepy creatures. So lots of creep all around this week. Awesome. Right up my alley. Though I could have done without some of the spurting pus.

Audio was supremely effective for getting these stories across, and the choices the authors/creators/contributors made in their usage of sound effects, ambient noise, and background music really brought the tales to life in very unique ways. No two were at all alike, and none of them were at all lifeless or straightforward like reading off a card; instead, they were vibrant and dynamic and alive. Kudos.

So that was a fantastic listening experience. When it came to ds106 radio, I hate to say it, but I wasn’t quite as impressed. Maybe it was because we were supposed to listen to a full hour instead of a few shorter segments, but ds106 radio really didn’t hold my attention. When I tuned in, it was always in the middle of someone talking or music playing—I couldn’t tell if it was a story or a talk show, or part of a larger arc. And I simply could NOT focus on the radio for more than a few minutes, if I wasn’t immediately interested, which meant I kept tuning in and out and not really ever feeling like I was hearing anything significantly worth really investing in mentally. Also, I was doing some other stuff at the time, because the idea of just sitting there for an hour doing nothing but listening kind of broke my brain. I don’t have anywhere near that kind of attention span. Oops. I also had trouble focusing when I tried to listen to the examples cut from  Detective Stories, possibly for the same reason; it felt a bit chopped up and my brain just couldn’t find any traction in it.

(I did watch the Video of foley artists at work on Prairie Home Companion however, and absolutely freaking loved it. So fantastic. Seriously; this class is making me again want to be a Foley artist when I grow up and I had given that dream up years ago).


Ok, update time: I wrote that bit about ds106 radio a few days ago. Tonight, I’m giving it another shot. I have it playing in the background while I work on this very weekly summary. Now that I’ve had some time to get over my initial misgivings, I’m still finding it a strange experience, but a more enjoyable one.

Further update: I’m engaging in a fantastically awesomely entertaining back and forth with Stephen Hurley, a ds106radio host, on twitter, listening to great music, and having one of those freaking lightbulb moments. SO THAT’S how it’s supposed to go. (ps, there’s like 5 people listening right now. Word)

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Part of the exchange, because it ended up getting long and crazy and involving Alan himself XD


more images: Wish I could get one big intergrated pic, but that’s beyond my skill

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About making my radio bumper: I did this after making the sound effect story, which was HARD AS ALL GET OUT, because I was working on an ancient pc at my parents’ house that hasn’t been updated since like freaking eighth grade. And yeah, after that, making my radio bumper on my sweet baby mac was easy as pie.

The radio bumper I tried to keep short and sweet, and the sound effect story I wanted to make longer and more badass. Editing the cat’s meow in and dropping the pitch of my voice were fun things to do that were easy ways of making the tone much more creepy. My own voice is a bit too peppy–by dropping the pitch to -50.00, I was able to better match my character’s perspective.

The story, obviously, is from the perspective of my character, who has been in some kind of roadside accident that he can’t remember–hence the scattered memories. I undershot everything with a level of static and chaos to just throw everything into a kind of discordant haze–if you listen, you’ll hear that the ambulance siren starts before the actual sound of the crash–I wanted to apply a bit of a fragmented memory, things out of order, voices cutting in and out, that kind of thing. I think I did ok.


Daily creates were the same as the prior few weeks, but this week, I did them “in character.” I’m looking forward to learning more about this poor confused character. I did one audio one, one writing one, and one image.

This is me humming a cover of the song Bus Stop Waiting by the Hollies, the song my dad used to play on the record player when I had colic as a baby. He would put me on his hip and walk in circles in the living room. I remember that if he slowed down, I would kick him with my heels. :) Poor guy. Process: hummed and recorded using my computer’s built-in-mic and Soundcloud’s recording function.

The writing one was just a fast acrostic poem–didn’t think too hard about it, just fired it off.

And the image? Redid the movie poster of 12 Angry Men.



I actually commented on people’s blogs (is it people’s or peoples’?)—Chelsea paid me a compliment this week, and Kaitlyn provided me with some pretty great advice. Thanks ladies! I went onto their blogs and commented here and there on things I found really impressive—both of them have very cool blogs that I think are going to be really fun to keep an eye on—as well as learn from. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard from the final member of our group yet, but I went ahead and posted a bit on his blog. Hoping to hear from him soon!


Oh, snap, just remembered I never did go back and fix that freaking gif. MAN. I need to get on that.


I learned this week that I absolutely freaking adore audio, and can’t wait to sink my teeth into it even deeper during the next few weeks. This isn’t going to be much of a paragraph because my wrist is killing me from where I sprained it before Christmas break and I am feeling burned out from sewing all day (I made a protective sleeve for my recurve bow!) and now typing is basically agonizing. So just take my word for it: DS106 is awesome, radio is awesome, and everything is awesome except torn ligaments and orthopedists. Well, I guess orthopedists are ok, but wrist braces suck. Ok, I’m really digging the song that I’m listening to on ds106 radio right now. I guess it really comes down to what mood I’m in—the first time I tried listening, I COULD NOT GET INTO IT AT ALL.


Now, I’m kind of digging it. Hoping the guy on the radio tweets me back. Is that a thing that might happen?

ANOTHER UPDATE: obviously, he did, and it was awesome.


That’s it for now!

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