I don’t grok radio. I don’t usually listen to it, aside from maybe some songs a friend happens to flip on in the car. I don’t watch movies and shows much either. Mostly, I read. Listening Deception by Radiolab was a new experience. And kind of a pleasant one. Why? This show is odd in that it portrays visual contents with pure audio. The really surprising thing is…it works. Why? I’m not entirely sure I understand, but two things stand out: sound backing and dialog.
Sound effects are an effective and intuitive and effective replacement for prose. Instead of describing a sound, you just play it. Cars, jet engines, and people talking portray a trip to the air port. Musical clips set up the emotional tone of a scene. But here’s the thing: from my previous attempts at finding and using audio, this seems like it’s harder than writing. Sure, you have to revise prose and re-write it, but you don’t have to manage or track down samples and the rights to them.
Dialog irks me. I’m used to reading. It’s faster. But at the same time, there’s more information in the dialog. The voices convey more inflection than text on a page can. I like this.