This post will be a combination of all of the key aspects that I have learned about audio storytelling from two sources. The first is an interview of Ira Glass on Storytelling and the second is Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad: How Radio Creates Empathy.
From Ira Glass’s perspective there are two main building blocks for audio storytelling. The first is the anecdote, which is a short amusing story about a real incident or person. This will most likely be used to get the listener more involved with the story very easily. As Ira Glass describes an anecdotes, “is a story in its purest form”. No matter how boring the subject matter is when it is put into a narrative anecdotal format the listener will connect to it. It has momentum when it is told in this format as one event leads to the next and so on and so forth. When stories are told like this it build some inherent suspense that something will eventually happen. It is like you are on a train that has a destination, but no one knows where it is going yet.
Another important part is the bait to the story. You as the director want the audience to constantly be raising questions about the story. For example, a question you might want the audience to come up with is, “Why is it so dark in this room?” “Why is it so quiet in this room?”. This starts to get the audience engaged with the story so that these questions can later be answered within the story.
The second main building block to the story is a moment of reflection. This is summed up as pretty much the reason you’re listening to this story. It is somewhat of a revealing from the director as to where this is going or its purpose. Here is the bigger thing we are going toward. From the train example, it would be a revealing of the destination.
From Jad Abumrad’s perspective, audio storytelling is a cool thing because of the absence of pictures. It enables the simple fact of having to describe things to your audience. You are instructing the audience to paint a picture with their own paintbrush. For example, I woke up this morning and gazed out toward the sun. It was a warm peachy color. From this scenario, you might have pictured something in your mind. It was you who painted that picture in your mind just from my words. Jad Abumrad describes this act as, “co-authorship”, in which the director gives the paint and the listener paints the picture. The director and listener are sort of connected and that is what makes audio storytelling a really beautiful form of storytelling.
In conclusion, I have learned so much from these videos already and the week has only just started. I feel like I have a better understanding of why audio storytelling can be so powerful even without any real images like you would see in visual storytelling. My three main takeaways from these videos are the bait, anecdotes, moment of clarity, and co-authorship.