Listening to Stories: Getting Away with It

I chose to listen to an episode of The American Life entitled “Getting Away with It.” Overall, I really enjoyed listening to the stories, most of them being quite humorous. It’s amazing some of the crazy things people can get themselves into, while skating by without any consequences!

As far as the audio techniques and elements go, a majority of the radio show was dedicated to the recounting of the individual stories. The producer chose to present them in various ways. The show began with what seemed like a real-time interview, intermixed with various interjections from the interviewer. These interjections tended to be comments and explanations on what the interviewee was saying. This section, the Prologue, gave the audience a snippet or sneak peek of what to expect for the remainder of the episode, various individuals telling stories of how they got away with something. The host of the show was also very direct in describing the purpose/focus of the episode. Following the Prologue, the host introduced the next segment as if it was a cliff hanger to keep the audience entertained. This very much relates to one of the main building blocks of audio storytelling as discussed by Ira Glass. By giving listeners an idea of what to expect next, but not fully revealing it, the host kept listeners engaged for the entirety of the show.

Some other elements utilized, were instrumental/musical interludes. Many times, I noticed that these musical segments were used as transitional indicators. They would often lead listeners from one scene/event to the next. The music was also played in the background of interviews and conversations as well. When I listened closely, I noticed too that the music played was meant to elicit a specific emotional response within the listener’s mind. As a story would get more suspenseful, the music would build and grow in volume and speed, or when a particularly funny or lighthearted moment occurred, a more relaxed, playful song would be going on in the background.

I don’t think I would have noticed many of these audio techniques or elements if I had not approached the radio show with prior knowledge. However, I am astounded at the many details that can go into something that I first assumed to be so simple. This does make it a little more daunting to have to make our own audio stories, but I’m hopeful that it will be a great learning experience.

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