Listening to the Rad eeO

There were seven of us listening to the ds106 radio this evening, Monday, February 7, from 8-9 p.m. Our Professor Paul Bond wove us through the intro and outro (was he also the sound editor emeritus??).

Unfortunately, I could not engage in the discussion on Discord. I didn’t receive my invitation in the first week and perhaps was feeling a little like Cinderella not getting invited to the Ball. Not really. I forgot all about Discord in the whiplash of challenges in the first four weeks until 6:13 p.m., when I emailed our brave leader in desperation to connect. I did connect but couldn’t find the conversation by 8 p.m., having gotten caught up in “Would You Like to Make Some Friends??” and “Would You Like to Create Your Own Server??” and “Would You Like to Build the Empire State Building With Toothpicks Tonight??” NO! JUST HELP ME FIND THE RADIO STATION DISCUSSION GROUP!!!! i was lost in a loop and couldn’t get out…..

The hour-long radio show started with the lead-in tune Burning Down the House by Talking Heads, good segue selection. I caught a couple of bumpers in the intro and I think a couple in the outro–I couldn’t hear some of them but I’m not sure if it was because the recording was so low and it couldn’t be turned up, or what the issue may have been. A couple were really good and got my attention. Thanks to everyone for going first–I used them all for inspiration.

The radio drama, Escape: Sonic Adventure in the Anthropocene, takes from the familiar radio dramas of the 1940s with intense musical scores and dramatic narratives and plots, and twists them into a modern narrative that gets the listener intrigued about current environmental and political issues. In this episode, it starts out with the disturbing background sound of a nuclear blast, like from the nuclear testing done in the 1930s and 40s. The music changes from light guitar and voice to echo voice to an accented voice to the roar of an accelerating nuclear rocket.

The sound artists were working in the abstract, creating metaphors with sound from one global experience in one time to another global experience in another time. The common thread was human destruction of the environment and it was made clear to the listener by using prominent themes from one scene to the next, and also using the nodal narrative. The nodal narrative in this story was about establishing the lighthouse as a key node by giving the listener great detail about it and centering the plot around the lighthouse. This lighthouse also lit up the end of land at the edge of the world in a penal colony–an outpost of people thrown away from their society.

The narrator talked about the intentional sound of the good, consistent clicking of the machine because it was reassuring and smooth-working. In contrast was a derelict ship heading toward them and then the sound of millions of rats getting louder as they fly off the ship to the land and the lighthouse. The sound artists received awards for creating the sound of rats swarming by running wet corks across sheets of glass. We hear the humans franticly calling out to each other and trying to close doors and windows to save themselves from the rats getting into the lighthouse. This created the tension, between the human-built infrastructure, and the natural environment.

In the end there was silence. Then music. The rats are gone and a cornet is playing in the middle space, creating more depth for the listener. Then there is ominous music like something bad is about to happen, but it doesn’t. The rats have gone back to a ship but with no human crew. Then we hear the sound of a cornet in the distant space, again increased depth of space for the listener.

There was more information about the environment and science but for me, it went too far into the academic weeds toward the end and lost the audience. It was a good story with a solid moral but lost its focus. It would have been a stronger story if it had cut it to about 40-45 minutes.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Olivia

    I wasn’t able to tune in on Monday, but your reflection made me feel like I was there! Great job!

  2. Zoe

    There may have been 8 actually on Monday listening. If you weren’t on discord you may have missed that I tuned in a little late. 🙂

    1. admin

      Zoe, you’re exactly right. I finally figured out that I was alone in Discord because my cell phone was not in my profile. That’s fixed now so I’m part of the world!

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