RadioLab’s ‘Words:’ actually, kind of annoying.

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As I was listening to a RadioLab episode of Words (Season 8, Episode 2), I was able to get an idea of what Glass and Abumrad had been talking about in their videos on how to do talk-radio.  I’d never listened to this show before, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.  I was immediately taken by the sound effects used in the storytelling, but the technique that most interested me was the man narrating the story as the guest was telling it.  I’d seen that technique used in movies, but the idea of using it on the radio had never even occurred to me.

I should probably clarify before I continue:  the man wasn’t talking over her as he was narrating.  After she would finish one small segment, he would jump in with “and her friend…” and she would pick up with “my friend, who was just a little older…”  It was an interesting way of telling the story.

While it was interesting, it was not a technique I necessarily enjoyed.  I actually thought it was kind of annoying and took away from the story.  That being said, RadioLab is pretty well-known, so I can’t help but feel like I’m probably alone in that boat.  To me though it felt like he was interrupting and speaking for her.  She was speaking in the background; you could hear her.  Why not just let her tell the whole story?  Add the sound effects, if you like, but let her tell the story!


The only other thing I wasn’t a fan of was how many sounds they added.  I didn’t feel like the echoes/repititions were necessary and some of the sound effect transitions seemed random and misplaced.  It came across as someone just trying to insert as many sounds as they could.

(I had high expectations for Jad, so I have to say I was a little disappointed)

Aside from all that, I really liked the story that was told.  The story-telling and even interview question prompts to find out certain details were interesting, and it came across as an effective way of telling the story because it felt like the person interviewing (I could never tell who was who, besides the woman) was finding out the information with us.  The questions I might have come up with were being asked and answered for me.

I really enjoyed listening to the show and even if I didn’t appreciate the ones used, I got an idea of how sounds could be used in addition to talking, and I was able to hear the techniques  I’d learned about in practice.

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