The wise words of Ira Glass and Jad Abumrad

Over the past fifty years, Americans have gained a growing dependence on visual aides to tell a story (such as television shows, Netflix, and video games). But one source of media that has been neglected over the years are those of the radio/audio format. I will be the first to admit, I never really saw the point nor thought it was at all interesting to actually listen to some story over the radio because in my mind I figured “Well why not see it all act in front of me rather than waste my time with hearing a story?”. But, listening to well-known professionals in the field does make a so called “visual lover” like me gain a new outlook on storytelling through audio.

Ira Glass, host of a renowned radio show called- This American Life explains in a video interview the overall underrated importance of audio storytelling and creativity.  The first part of the video, Glass explains just like regular storytelling you need to understand the building blocks of telling a story. He later elaborates upon the point by saying when it comes to audio storytelling the best way to tell it is combined through different parts. One, being the anecdote or the actually sequence of events in the story. This anecdote needs to have a “flow” meaning which connects all plot points together. Glass says that if the flow has a good momentum then the listener will not be bored. The other component he then states, is raising questions to those listening and proceed to answer those questions. Not only does this peak the listeners interest but it keeps them wanting more of the story. Finally, Ira Glass says what I took to be the most important part was to reflect on the story. Tell your listeners “Here’s why this is important and how it may or may not affect you”.

Ira Glass also dabbled in talking about creativity and honing it in when it comes to creating a story. He says it’s difficult to find a story rather than creating one, and it’s okay to kill the ideas or as he puts it ever so lightly “kill the crap”, this will enable you to execute a great story to your audience. One of the last points he makes which I thought was good to take note of is sometimes (he stresses especially at the beginning), you will make mistakes and your work won’t be that good, but you need to keep working at it because eventually things will come together for you.

Radiolab’s host Jad Abumrad recycled the ideas that Ira Glass had said but did emphasize the importance of details in audio storytelling. Abumrad says by describing the details of things- no matter how simple they may be this puts no distance between the host and the listeners. The lack of details as Abumrad states actually to be the greatest advantage to audio storytelling because this allows a “co-authorship” to form between the listeners and the host as I they were working on it together and we can imagine our own image of what is happening as it is being described.  Abumrad than closes saying while no one is perfect, there is always room for improvement, something I can attest to, that I need to work on.

I can’t say I will ever have a beautiful relationship with radio shows or an other forms of audio storytelling like I do with my television shows and video games but I can say that listening to both Glass and Abumrad I do gain massive respect and understanding for what they do. If I ever come across a radio talk show, I will take the time to listen because a lot more goes into it than what people think. Another key point I got from listening to these two was how to approach the way I create and do my assignments. I think from now on, more attention will be focused on all the details and flow of how I put my assignments together. One last thing, hearing both Glass and Abumrad reflect on their experiences with work one can tell they had a passion for what they do despite the many mistakes they encounter and no matter how bad things can backfire putting you effort into something can make a worthwhile story.

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