Well, I got Audio-Pilled

Radio Theatre is Great, Changed my Mind

When I wrote my previous post, I held the belief that additional audio dubbed into stories was more a distractor than an enhancer, but after listening to three podcasts by The Truth Podcast, I believe audio stories made in such fashion benefit greatly by the addition.  The sounds that The Truth Podcast incorporated into their stories served to drive the action and influence the atmosphere in ways that would have been difficult without them.

What Could Have Been

Moon Graffiti gripped me from the moment the lander crashed. Once Nixon came on and I realized what had happened, I had to hear the rest. Listening to Buzz and Neil live their last moments made my gut wrench, and when combined with Nixon’s canned speech, evoked anger and sorrow on behalf of the lost astronauts. Also, the concept of this story resounded with the question-of-the-week from last week, about if something in history had happened differently. This familiar topic helped me connect with the audio story.

While the story itself was magnificent, the techniques utilized by The Truth in this podcast brought the text life.  By applying effects to make the voice of Nixon sound as though it were really recorded in nineteen-sixty-nine and to transmit Buzz and Neil’s voices over fuzzy helmet radios, the creators gave me a front-row seat by the radio in my house mourning our heroes, and a third seat on the lander, listening to the two astronauts drift to sleep for the last time.

I was also surprised by how much I enjoyed the sound effects during transitions.  The eerie background music playing with the narrator before returning to the astronauts was an effective setup for the rest of the story.  Additionally, the use of deep electronic tones to segue Buzz and Neil’s exit from the lander solidified the magnitude of the reality that they were on the moon.

I got Influenced

After listening to Moon Graffiti, I decided to check out other works by The Truth. Their latest audio story, Influencers, was a two-part venture with Benjamin Walker. This work gave a snap-shot of the life of journalists and social-media-ites confined to labor camps as punishment for being, as Trump calls them, enemies of the people. Here, their talents for reporting fake-news are redirected for making America great again. The authors used references to social media and current-events to make an entertaining but startling alternate reality.  Frankie’s weakness and lack of purpose led to the destruction of the anti-Trump resistance, eliciting righteous anger in me for his betrayal of Lauren.

Much like the use of cicada-noise  in the anime Evangeleon to refocus the audience’s attention between scenes, Moon Graffiti utilized the clacking of typewriters to reorient the listener back to the work-room throughout the production.  This consistent queueing mechanism established the prison-like repetition of the characters lives: wake, work, eat, work, sleep, and over again. Of course the prison-buzzer noise also gave that message, but the oppressive sound of typing, due to its unwelcome presence in my image of incarceration, was more powerful.  The prisoners’ talents to write were both their crimes and their punishments.

Against the explicit recommendation of the assignment, I did not listen to the audio stories in a vacuum; I listened to them at Starbucks. My ear-buds blocked out the background noise sufficiently at least ninety percent of the time, however there was a moment when their failure to silence the outside world brought me farther into to the story. During the scene when Frankie divulges his plan to Lauren to keep her at the camp, I was particularly struck by the light-hearted smooth-hip-hop playing in the background. The choice of music that would often be found in cheesy romantic comedies made clear the distance between Frankie and Lauren; Frankie was obviously romantically interested in Lauren, and he thought she would be grateful for his “effort” to save her from destruction. Frankie could not see that his mistrustful actions made the possibility of a relationship between them impossible. It was only after the scene changed but the hip-hop remained that I realized the music was not part of the story. I re-listened to the scene, but without the music, the dichotomy I found so powerful was gone.

What Will I Create?

After listening to these audio stories, I am inspired to try my hand at composing my own narratives. Perhaps I can take a scene from one of my previous assignments and give it new life. After refreshments, of course.

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