In Audio Lead with Your Best Quote

When producing audio lead with your best quote, writes Journalist Christine Gorman in a brief overview of a workshop on audio she attended recently as a Nieman Fellow in Journalism.

Radio was (is) my first love in the media. It’s a medium that encourages imagination on the part of the producer and listener. It gets my creative juices flowing.

When produced well, good audio is as involving as a good book. It’s about experiencing a story by placing you in it. But the medium can’t carry the same information as print. It doesn’t work well to quantify the story or present comparative data, for example. That’s best left to tables and charts that can be viewed.

Working with a good sound person is an experience all its own. I’ve watched sound engineers go through painful contortions to get the right sound for the audio track of a film. I waited in the waning light of a long, long day in sub-Saharan Africa while a sound engineer tried to capture the buzzing tiny wings of an insect. I wanted to eat and sleep. He wanted bzzzzz. I waited, and it was worth it when we got to post-production.

And I’ve been frustrated at meticulous calls to “do it one more time” because some imperceptible (to my ears) errant sound crept into an interview. Later, when I heard the takes, I was so grateful the sound person was so particular.

Getting the right sound is such a precise skill, perhaps even a delicate skill because it requires an ability to know what sound cut works to set a mood, make an impression, or draw you into the story without referring overtly to itself.

I haven’t produced audio for a number of years, primarily because the nature of my work changed from producer to administrator. But I’ve often wondered what it would be like to host a radio talk show today, or to produce audio for the Internet, which I’ve only experimented with.

With podcasting as accessible as your keyboard the only limits today are your imagination and the company you keep, I suppose. (I know that’s an old, old line but it’s still true.)

At any rate, Christine got my juices flowing, as you can tell. She provides a good brief overview of the workshop and she lists a couple of “how-to” websites. If you’re interested in audio storytelling, it’s worth a hop over to the Global Health Report Blog.

One Response to “In Audio Lead with Your Best Quote”

  1. Christine Gorman March 22, 2008 at 5:41 pm #

    Now I know why you have such a great appreciation of what radio means in Africa!

    I’ll be bringing along a Compact Flash audio recorder on my 3-month trip to Malawi. So I’m recording everything I can before I leave, learning about levels, etc. The goal is to produce a couple of good radio/audio pieces and maybe a narrated slide show or two.

    Hope I haven’t taken on too much! 🙂

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