Storytime on Air

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To practice listening to stories, I chose to listen to This American Life (producer = Ira Glass) episode 476; What Doesn’t Kill You. This is a radio show that has a theme every episode. I chose this particular episode because I love that sayin “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”. This episode was filled with soundbites from people who have had “close calls” with death.

One woman, Tig, found out she had cancer and a week later did some stand-up comedy about it. At first, I thought “why the heck is she making fun of the fact that she has cancer?” But my thoughts changed as the show went on. She was almost shedding light on the fact that she had cancer because she was so repetitive. She was getting laughs at her jokes because she had so many bad things happen to her, it was almost comical. At one point, she even asked the audience if she should switch to happy jokes and they all said no.

Ira does a nice job crossfading between him when he was broadcasting and the soundbites of the people telling their stories. This was an effective technique for telling a story because it allowed for Ira to point out a specific part of a clip or to tell background information that was not included in the soundbite. Another technique used by Ira was sound effects, maybe even foley sound. He created the tune of jaws in the shark bite story {oh man, that story gave me the c-h-i-l-l-s!!!}. It sounded like he used his mouth to create this tune. I think foley sound is just about the coolest thing ever! I would love to be the person who has to make the sound in the studio to match a picture.

One thing that I noticed {that I don’t typically} is bumper music. Ira played music/sound clips in the background quietly. This is one thing that I don’t notice unless I am paying full-on attention to it. Then I thought about it, little clips of music play a lot in movies, shows, and the radio – but it’s so quiet and subtle that we {or at least I} don’t notice it. The bumper music made the stories more dramatic to me because music has the ability to make things dramatic, serious, really anything it wants to do. One technique that wasn’t specifically in this episode, but that I’ve noticed through my years of listening to the radio and watching tv shows is the Wilhelm Scream. A scream is recorded and used in several different occasions because it is part of the “sound track”. I’ve also noticed this with laugh tracks.

Overall, I think that if you have the right audio, you can do anything. I never thought a collection of sounds would be a part of digital storytelling {my view of what digital storytelling is changes everyday!}. It was kind of neat to explore the Radio Glossary and put a name to things that occur everyday on the radio. I definitely have a greater respect now for radio announcers!

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