Here’s a short radio piece I just finished. Listen to it, then I’ll tell you about. It’s only 2 minutes long and might make you laugh at least once.
Did you listen to it?
Okay scroll down.
Okay, so, here’s the background behind the project. A friend of mine posted on Facebook about how he was going to make a song for each of the first three people who commented on his status, and I was like, “that’s pretty cool.” I was in the mood to do some audio project and thought I could do something like that, but not necessarily music. But I’ve done two audio related things in my past (radio DJ, audio journalism class) and I’m currently binge listening a whole slew of podcasts (interview podcasts, audio fiction podcasts, radio podcasts, storytelling podcasts), so I thought it would be fun to try something.
So I made my own Facebook status asking friends to send me 5 minutes of random audio and I would make something with it. It could be 5 minutes walking down the street. It could be 5 minutes cooking dinner. It could be 5 minutes taking a nap. My friend Matt was the first to send me audio. It was 5 minutes of him rambling. He had no prepared remarks, just 5 minutes of stream of consciousness.
As I listened, I thought, what the heck can I make with this? He talked about podcasts and TV and the weather in Chicago and flowers and gas. He has a tendency to sort of speak in a slow, monotone, and I guess since he talked about the weather for a long time during his 5 minutes I thought – he sort of sounds like a dull weatherman. I remember being driven around in Chicago and whenever we were on or going to the highway, we’d be listening to WBBM traffic and weather on the 8s and the traffic/weather person would always speak SO fast. I could not understand how anyone understood what they were saying. So I thought it would be a funny contrast to have this dude who is not that at all.
So now I had a premise: dull weatherman reads the traffic and weather.
Cool, but if he doesn’t sound like the typical traffic/weather person, there must be a reason.
Cue the dystopian future. I think I was just in a random mood when I was writing the script. I wanted the radio station to be called WBBB (in homage to WBBM and WPRB). WPRB’s tagline is “the only radio station in New Jersey” which I think is not true, but funny nonetheless. So I gave WBBB that tagline as well. But then I thought, why on Earth would Chicago have only ONE radio station. There must’ve been some disaster and now we’re in post-apocalypse dystopia.
Thus the narrator intro (as read by my friend Aleka). Since the radio piece is so abnormal, I wanted a narrator introduction to quickly explain why things are so weird (because: dystopia). Ain’t no body got time, they still need to know the traffic, but bronchitis runs rampant (because: dystopia), so they hit up WBBB. This kills two birds with one stone: 1) Why is Matt doing the weather? Larry Byrne has bronchitis and can’t do it. 2) Jab at Veronica Roth’s Divergent, which takes place in dystopian Chicago and features a super annoying character named Tris.
So we have Matt rambling and a decent introduction as to why Matt is rambling. But we still need DRAMA.
So I play the part of a WBBB anchor who is super pissed off because I’m working with idiots who can’t do simple jobs such as READ THE WEATHER and SAY THE TRAFFIC REPORT and TURN OFF MICS WHEN SOMEONE ISN’T SUPPOSED TO BE HEARD. I know it’s kind of a cliched plot device, but whatever. If no one ever used overused plot devices there would be no television or movies, ever. The point is to do something sort of new, and I think that comes from the origin of the audio: my friend rambling for 5 minutes.
Regrets: I was getting audio from a bunch of different sources (two friends, sound bites from GarageBand, my iPhone microphone). The iPhone microphone is pretty clean when used under a large blanket, but it gave me mono (sound, not the disease) and so it sounds different than the narrator introduction and the other sound bites in the piece. I doubled my voice track and panned one side left and the other side right until it sounded balanced and a bit fuller. But since I was getting audio from a bunch of different sources anyway I think the unevenness of the clips would’ve persisted. That’s definitely the most annoying thing I hear in this piece. I wish I knew how to edit sound better. What is sound even*? I recorded the WBBM jingle from the external speakers on my computer and then had to try to edit it to make it sound like WBBB, but I don’t know how to edit sound well, thus the static at the end of the jingle. I feel like it actually isn’t so bad because that gives it a weird, abnormal feel. If it had just been a straight up jingle, would people have gotten into the dystopian tone as readily? Would they have been prepared for “are artificial yam sweeteners poisoning yer** cats?” Anyone know of better editing software / good online primers for using said editing software?
Cool. Thanks for listening. If you listened. And thanks for reading. If you read. Listen again(./) (I/i)f you feel like it(,/.) (S/s)hare it with your friends.
*I know what sound is.
**Listen to it again, I seriously say “yer” not “your.”