Thursday, February 16, 2017

THE MOTH (due Mon. Feb 20)

True stories told live. The Moth is a non-profit group based in New York City dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. It was founded by poet and novelist George Dawes Green, who wanted to recreate the feeling of sultry summer evenings in his native Georgia, when moths were attracted to the light on the porch where he and his friends would gather to spin spellbinding tales (Wikipedia).

Students must listen to one podcast from either the STORIES section or the RADIO section of The Moth site. Your choice. Include the title of the story in your written response.

Students MUST post reactions ( minimum 250 words) to the listening linked below. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

THE STORY SO FAR (due Mon. Feb 13)

Students MUST post reactions ( minimum 250 words) to the reading/listening linked below. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

The Story So Far: Fiction Podcasts take their next step by Amanda Hess: "On one long August day, Eli Horowitz camped out in a cramped studio in Gowanus, Brooklyn, with Oscar Isaac, Catherine Keener, a microphone and a solitary Betta fish named Young Hollywood swimming laps around its little bowl.

Mr. Horowitz was there to direct Ms. Keener and Mr. Isaac as they acted out the story of a strange and intimate relationship between a therapist and an army veteran who come together as part of a secretive — maybe even sinister — government program. Mr. Isaac played the vet, Ms. Keener the therapist.

Young Hollywood served as scenery. The catch: They had to convey all of this exclusively through sound — including the fish. Also, Mr. Horowitz had never directed an actor in his life." Click heading to read the rest of the article. 

11 Fiction Podcasts Worth a Listen by Amanda Hess: "The fiction podcast is having a moment. But modern audio dramatists have been turning out intriguing scripted podcasts for several years, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down. Take a guided tour through the past, present and future of audio drama with these fictional standouts." Click heading to review recommended list, then pick one and listen to an episode. Don't pick one you have to subscribe to (the majority are free).

Thursday, February 2, 2017

MY HAND! MY HAND! (due Mon. Feb 6)

A) Adapt a scene from a movie, television show, comic book, or video game into a FIVE page podcast script. (If you want to use correct audio script format, feel free (and see #3 below), but for #2 proper format is NOT required.

Pick a scene that presents some narrative challenges (after the visual information is eliminated), and/or offers a variety of acoustic opportunities (i.e. don't just pick a scene in which two characters are talking in a empty room). In a fictional podcast, narration is often considered a crutch (though it's much more acceptable here than in film); unless it's something that already contains lots of narration/voice over, shoot for as little narration as possible.

Feel free to massage/revise the dialogue to include/articulate information that is removed with the visuals. For instance, in the light saber fight at the end of NPR's audio version of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke additionally yells, "My hand! My hand!" and Vader responds, "Yes, your sword hand, you can't fight without it!"

Choose something you're semi-obsessed with, as you're next assignment will be to write a fan fic podcast script from your source material.

NOTE: Sometimes something that is indelibly visual, Jaws, for instance, or, as I suggested in class, Empire Strikes Back, will surprise you with it's audial vitality. Jaws is all about sounds. The famous Duh Nuh that signals the shark’s arrival is easily as effective, maybe even more so, than the mechanical maw itself. Williams’ two note signature is, of course, hugely important, but so is the light lapping of water against a clanging buoy.

In the opening scene, ALL the noises—musical and atmospheric—create a sense of isolation well before the low pulse of strings creep in. And even prior to Chrissie Watkins' fateful flailing, she’s sitting around a bonfire with friends, enveloped by the sound of aimless conversation, acoustic guitar, and crackling firewood. Jaws was made to be a radio drama. Empire, too. Empire is highly visual of course, but think of the all the distinct sounds: from the Imperial March and Vader's labored breathing to R2D2's chirping and Chewie's incredible range of grunts and growls, which, at various times, were one of three different bears, a badger, a lion, a seal, and a walrus from Long Beach (or some combination of all five).

Post script below as a google.doc (or e-mail it to me at


Students MUST post reactions ( minimum 250 words) to the reading/listening linked below. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

A Brief History of NPR’s Star Wars: In 1981, NPR affiliate station KUSC, based at George Lucas’ alma mater, the University of Southern California, hatched a bold plan to adapt Lucas’ Star Wars for radio.

Easily the most visual film of the past decade, Star Wars as a listening experience seemed like an unlikely idea, but Lucas sold NPR and KUSC the rights to adapt the hit movie for one dollar, and opened the Lucasfilm vaults to the show’s producers: the Star Wars sound effects would be available to them in their raw form, along with every note of John Williams’ music, including selections that had yet to appear on an album.The somewhat unenviable task of translating a visual-effects-heavy blockbuster to the spoken word was given to writer Brian Daley.

Click heading to read the rest of the article.

Click HERE to listen to the first 30 minute episode (featuring the ice planet Hoth and the Wampa attack) or HERE for the final 30 minute episode (featuring the final saber battle between Skywalker & Vader) of The Empire Strikes Back from KUSC's STAR WARS: The Original Radio Drama.