Fully-Realized Experiment: Making a Podcast

I am planning on making a podcast for my fully-realized draft. My podcast will use personal narrative and scientific evidence to explore the connection between music, memory, and emotion. I was inspired to take on this topic in a podcast format after realizing that, out of the many music podcasts on iTunes, very few gave a voice to fans for sharing how music has affected their lives. I thought that incorporating a scientific perspective into this theme would complement the emotion that dominates personal narratives, and add depth to my piece. I want to be able to explain and demonstrate, for instance, why a song can make someone nostalgic, why we keep revisiting sad songs, and why we often turn to music to express affection.

In terms of my authority as the host, I am aiming to establish myself as a peer to my audience. I am not an expert in any of the areas that I plan to discuss, but rather a storyteller who is aiming to make sense of why music affects us in the way that it does. I anticipate that my audience is equally curious in learning why and how people come to love music, and thus will aim to serve this interest through meaningful research and carefully-selected stories. I also think that my stance as a peer will be the best way to match the podcast’s personal and relatable subject matter.

I am very excited to make a podcast, but also very nervous! I have never done anything like this, and am worried that, at the end of the day, if I can’t figure out how to properly edit and produce, I won’t have a final product. Still, I believe in this project because I think that a podcast is a great format for giving a voice to a topic from which listeners can learn and empathize: the format will hopefully allow me to form a more intimate connection to my audience, as I am using my own, hopefully approachable, speaking voice in order to share a narrative on a rather personal/emotion-based topic. My other experiments, a mini graphic novel and a collection of music essays, seemed to not fit my goal of holistically exploring the emotion behind music as effectively as a podcast. It definitely would have been more of a challenge to include a scientific component into a graphic novel, as well as to authentically share an interview in the voice of its subject in either of these two remaining mediums.  I am also just overall a huge fan of many podcasts, and have always been curious about what it would be like to make one of my own, so that is certainly an added benefit.

Again, I think that a podcast gives me the ability to craft a narrative on my own terms, literally in my own voice. This will enhance the personal tone that I am trying to establish, and hopefully inspire listeners to embrace what I am saying as a peer rather than a daunting or overly-technical expert. I have found this to be the case in my own experiences listening to podcasts, as I am much more eager to enjoy and absorb an episode that includes discussion and friendly debate rather than a dry lecture. With this in mind, I think that I face two main challenges: avoiding to talk at my audience, and creating a cohesive story. I do not want to simply read off facts and then sign off, and I also do not want to leave the audience more confused than when they started by offering a final product that does not focus in on a consistent theme. If all things went according to plan, I would likely try to get this podcast published on iTunes, if I did decide to actually distribute it.

Experiment 2 Reflection

I chose to do a graphic novel for my second experiment. The graphic novel genre has interested me ever since I wrote a paper last semester arguing that graphic novels belong in the literary canon. My research both for this essay and for Experiment 2 served as an important learning experience, as I came to appreciate the coordination and artistry required to make a final product good. It is very fascinating how nuances such as color pallet can dictate how a piece is received. I also became intrigued by how authors integrated text with their images, as each research piece I examined chose to approach this differently. Overall, I think that the artistic license offered by the graphic novel genre makes this an appealing format for exploring my origin piece.

Just like with my Experiment 1 reflection, I realized that working on a graphic novel requires much more planning and thought than I anticipated. Going into this experiment cycle, I assumed that if I could come up with good images and accompany them with decent text, then I would automatically have a cohesive and artistic final product. Upon examining my research texts, though, I realized how many elements need to be coordinated in order to craft a meaningful piece. It would be unreasonable to focus solely on what I am drawing and writing, as these elements serve as only the skeleton of the genre. To give my work life, it would be necessary to select which illustration style I want to incorporate, now knowing that realistic vs. crude imagery instill very different tones. Other factors that I would need to consider are coloring/color palate, point of view of the speaker, how to convey a sense of time and time jumps, the layout of panels, and overall how to bring these components together to create a holistic and distinct style that is consistent with the tone of the story.

My origin piece directly inspired the stories that I plan to tell within the graphic novel. Out of the five parts of my origin piece, I plan on translating two of them directly to the graphic novel, and summarize the other three as a means for connecting the plot. I think that the most radical way in which I leave my origin piece is by choosing to incorporate a visual element. My origin piece does not feature much of a description of physical imagery, so I think that this is an interesting enhancement, and I’m excited to see how this interacts with the story I have chosen to tell.

There would have to be a lot of learning on my behalf in order to fully realize this experiment. I think that the most important aspect that I can research is how authors create a cohesive style among their images and text. The best way to investigate this is to read more graphic novels and dissect the choices that authors have made on factors such as coloring, point of view, formality/realism of dialogue, illustration style, and panel arrangement, as well as the interaction among all of these choices. I also think that it is necessary to learn more about how authors create a flow within their piece, so that moving from one image seems like progress rather than a choppy transition. In terms of the topic itself, I do not think that I need to do a lot more research than I already have, as my origin piece was a personal narrative, and I’m sticking with its original story/personal tone for the most part.

In order to fully-realize Experiment 2, I would likely need to use illustration tools/software such as Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop and a drawing tablet of some sort. Since all of my research pieces were hard-copies, and that is the format on which I most enjoy reading graphic novels, I would consider submitting a graphic novel to a formal publisher to have it printed and physically distributed. With that in mind though, graphic novels are gaining a growing presence online through websites specializing in comics/graphic art. This could be a less formal, more accessible distributor to explore as well.

Experiment 1 Reflection

I chose to do a podcast for my first experiment, as I am an avid podcast listener. Going into this experiment, my favorite quality of the genre was its personability: I liked that I had constant access to intimate and engaging conversations. As I continued to research the structure of podcasts, though, I also came to appreciate their capacity for versatility. It seems like a podcast is a suitable format for almost any subject-matter, ranging from educational lectures to funny talk-shows. Ultimately, I found this to be daunting as well, since the possibilities were endless in terms of what I should talk about and how I should arrange my segments.

The primary realization I had when researching for Experiment 1 was that a good podcast requires good conversation. Although seemingly obvious, I certainly took podcasters’ ease of talking for granted prior to considering that I would have to master this as well. My expectations for turning this into a fully-realized draft have since evolved, as I initially assumed that organic conversation would be sufficient for producing a coherent piece. Now it is evident that my podcast would need to be thoroughly planned, likely with a robust script to ensure that I’m guiding my work in its intended direction.

My origin piece inspired the podcast’s theme of nostalgia through music. I think that, out of the four segments of the podcast that I planned, two are very literal in their connection to the plot of my origin piece. The other two segments will hopefully add dimension to my personal narrative and help make a holistic final product. I am especially excited to incorporate a psychological perspective into my work, as I found many interesting research papers that explore the how the brain expresses nostalgia as well as common traits of memory-provoking music.

I think that a lot of progress will have to be made in order to fully realize this experiment. Most importantly, I need to develop my interviewing skills. I plan on featuring two interview-style segments in my podcast, both of which are critical in helping facilitate the connection between music and memory. In order to gain meaningful insight from the people I’m interviewing, I need to optimize both the way in which I deliver questions and my ability to sustain a conversation/make productive connections. Additionally, I think that I need to learn how to instill a sense of longevity within my podcast. I do not want my work to come across as a stand-alone episode, but rather as a launching point for a broader exploration of its theme. Figuring out how to accomplish this will be challenging, as I think that this is a more nuanced quality that can change among different types of podcasts. A good starting point would be figuring out what keeps me, as a listener, eager to subscribe/continue enjoying a podcast.

To fully realize this experiment, I would need access to recording equipment and software. I plan on recording through the Wineberg Media Production Room, which gives full access to a microphone and booth. I also intend on editing with Audacity, which is a sound-editing software frequently used by podcast producers. There are many online tutorials guiding new users on how to create their own podcasts with Audacity. Finally, I would likely consider publishing this piece through iTunes, as it entails a simple uploading process and reaches a large audience.

Blog Post 2

One of my research pieces for Experiment 1 is the podcast Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People (Beautiful/Anonymous). I started listening to Beautiful/Anonymous because I was a fan of Chris Gethard, the show’s creator and host. Each week, an anonymous caller engages in an hour-long phone call with Gethard, in which they tell him stories that range from melancholy to uplifting, all of which are deeply personal. Although this podcast is often more earnest than what is expected from a comedian, I think that this project aligns well with his body of work. Although most commonly showcased on TV in The Chris Gethard Show and his HBO special Career Suicide, Gethard has written three books and a handful of articles. Through all mediums he aims to celebrate the humor in hardships and the value of resilience, most frequently using his own life experiences as the research that fuels his work. Beautiful/Anonymous seems to be the exception to this, as Gethard lets the caller he is speaking to provide the story that he interacts with. 

Since Gethard creates across so many different formats, his publishing process seems to vary greatly. For his TV show, Gethard had to come up with content that would garner ratings while appeasing the network that produced it. Ultimately this lead to him being dropped by two networks. In this case, both audience members and network executives held control over his content, as they ultimately dictated the success and longevity of his show. Gethard’s three books seem to have taken a conventional route for publishing novels, although he was presumably granted fewer restrictions in terms of content due to his established position as a comedian, and personal rather than serious academic subject matter. Finally, Beautiful/Anonymous is published by multiple podcast distributors, including iTunes and Spotify. These companies can control whether his episodes are appropriate for consumption and representation, which in turn likely impose some constraints on how provocative his work can get. Additionally, the podcast receives monetary support from sponsors, whom Gethard likely also needs to tailor his work to satisfy in order to generate revenue from this work. It seems like Gethard makes money from all of the aforementioned endeavors, partly due to his consistent fanbase and also from the originality of his work.

Hello!/Introduction

Hello! I’m Leah, a sophomore from Shaker Heights, Ohio studying Materials Science and Engineering. I’m excited to begin the Minor in Writing because it offers a chance to complement my more technical coursework and to explore my passion for writing. I have always enjoyed writing, and was reminded of that during a writing seminar I took last year. Prior to that, I had taken a course-load that was all math and science, which was a pretty big shock considering that I was heavily involved in humanities throughout high school. During that writing class, I recognized how much I missed writing, and how much more there is to learn about it. This eventually lead me to discover the Minor in Writing, which I decided to pursue after considering that this would be my best opportunity to both write and improve my writing while in college.

The origin piece that I chose is an essay titled “Good Songs,” which focuses on the evolution of my taste in music as well as how listening to music with my dad has changed as I’ve gotten older. It’s my favorite piece I’ve written, as I’m always eager to take any opportunity talk about the music I enjoy. This was also one of the first personal narratives that I ever wrote, which served as a turning point in how viewed writing since before that I was primarily exposed to argumentative essays. I was drawn to the narrative genre because it felt refreshing to be myself and not overly-mechanical or factually precise. 

I think that creating experiments from this piece will be both fun and challenging because there’s a lot of content to work off of that I’m happy to revisit, but I also want to push myself to explore unfamiliar mediums and expand beyond its original message. I think that it would be exciting to work on a podcast inspired by this essay, as it would provide a good platform to integrate certain songs with the discussion about music that is at the forefront of my essay. I already listen to and enjoy a few different podcasts about music, and appreciate the additional context that this format allows.