Building an Aura via Radio

What I found from this week’s podcasts was that radio, or narratives told through audio, can have a profound ability to create an almost tangible aura of emotion, much greater than simply reading text could. It sets is spare from a movie still, as most movies “show” a story, while the two podcasts for this week actually told the story, the way you would read it as if it were text. But the ability to use individuals’ voices, add music, sound effects, etc, really help to bring that story to life, make it much more believable, and proportionally intensify the emotions evoked.

The most interesting thing I found about the “This American Life” clip was indefinitely it’s ability to captivate, simple as that. The entire piece just kept me in sheer anticipation of the next clip. How did the authors and producers of the show manage to do this? It was offered to it’s listeners in a presentable, friendly medium. Unlike most novels, the show did not jump straight into it’s main content. As its format as a radio show, the host let us know exactly what the show would be about, its specific content format, and even how long the show would be (several times over, in fact!) It developed a very comfortable preparatory listening environment before diving into the content, and even manages to make the listener somewhat excited for the show.

As for the shows content, I found it to be pleasantly amusing, with one story begging to introduce the next. Each tale, though different in content, carried a light-hearted, often slightly humorous air to it. Each story had corresponding background noise, characters sounded as one might imagine they would, conversations sounded genuine, and even music added to them helped to convey the feeling the writers wanted the audience to feel.

As for “House on Loon Lake,” much of the enhanced-by-radio elements are paralleled. Voices switch back and forth as if a real group of friend sits before you and unfolds this event for you by their own accounts, with their own expression in their voices. Music was a big factor in this one as well; I instantly recognized the pieces from the Requiem for a Dream movie score, and the emotions boxed up with even the mention of that movie brought about suspense as I listened on.

What I found most interesting about this story was the explicit mention of the couch propped up against the basement door. Few things I can imagine would be more frightening than that. And yet, while they refused to go down to look, they still searched for an answer. Logically, if they wanted a HUGE clue, wouldn’t they decide to go down? Mention of this couch-in-front-of-basement did much to the overall aura like hanging a huge weight over it, like being given an Oscar envelope and not being able to open it.

The matter-of-fact tone of voice used by the elderly folk interviewed towards the end really demonstrated the differences in opinions; it was hard to believe that someone could take burning down a house full of relics so lightly and without second thought, and the old man’s persistence was much of a shock to me, especially in contrast to the other characters’ ability to treasure such lost articles.

These two podcasts showed me how much more emotionally grasping a story can be when the characters are materialized beyond the page and text, but take on a voice and, in turn, a personality. Movies have a completely different effect, as if you’re watching the events unfold through a crystal ball; hearing stories like this, having it be retold through the personas of the individuals inside the stories, brought them together much more than a few paragraphs could.


~ by n00neimp0rtant on January 31, 2011.

One Response to “Building an Aura via Radio”

  1. Please put your name in your blog posts

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