‘The Pub’ #65: Where the bleeps and bloops come from, live at The Greene Space

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If you’ve ever heard some digital slurp, bloop or BOOM in a radio story and thought “How’d they make that?”, listen to this episode of The Pub to find out.

Sound designers Jonathan Mitchell of Radiotopia’s audio fiction podcast The Truth and Alex Overington of New York Public Radio/Q2 Music’s Meet the Composer podcast open up their laptops and demonstrate how they create the kind of digital effects that pervade today’s high-touch audio storytelling.

Hint: Even those sounds that seem like they were digitally custom-fabricated are often bought off the rack.

Mitchell and Overington are both composers-turned-radio-producers (like me!) and see little if any distinction between sound design and scoring.

“Any sound can be music,” Mitchell said, “When I make a radio piece, I kind of think of it like I’m making a piece of music. … There’s a sense of momentum and a sense of tension and release.”

This episode was recorded live at The Jerome L. Greene Space at WNYC and WQXR in New York. Watch it on video:

Also on the show:

  • I offer an analysis and a defense of WBAA’s decision (since reversed) to drop This American Life from its schedule.
  • WNYC Vice President of On-Demand Content Paula Szuchman previews WNYC’s upcoming women’s podcast festival “Werk It.”
  • Audience members play a game called “Auto-Tune the Radio” in which they have to identify famous public radio voices that have been amusingly altered.

Please subscribe to The Pub in iTunes or your favorite podcast app, and leave us a rating and a comment! That will help boost our search results and allow people to find the show more easily.

We welcome your feedback on the show: You can reach me at adam@current.org or @aragusea on Twitter; my supervising producer at Current, Mike Janssen, is at mike@current.org; and you can contact Current generally at news@current.org or @currentpubmedia on Twitter.

If you’d like to offer a comment to be used in the program, please send on-mic tape (recorded in a studio, with a kit, a smartphone, anything) to adam@current.org either as an attachment or through Google Drive. Please keep it short!

Adam Ragusea hosts Current’s weekly podcast The Pub and is a journalist in residence and visiting assistant professor at Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.

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