Audio storytelling is very popular not only in terms of radio but also in podcasts. Moon Graffiti is a prime example of audio storytelling. From the second I pressed play until the second the broadcast ended, I was hooked, I was invested, and I was engaged. Without being able to see, I still had an image in my head the whole time I was tuning in. This goes back to what Jad Abumrad was talking about in How Radio Creates Empathy, saying what makes radio so special is that the lack of visuals allows imagination to fill in for that absence.
From the start of the podcast, I began to imagine the story being told. The sound effects of the walkie-talkies, the beeping in the spaceship, the astronaut on the radio saying “Roger” helped me envision the story that was about to unfold. The background sound effects were so detail-oriented like the static of radio that really helped paint a picture of the story.
Two things stood out to me from the radio show. The first thing I would say is the plot twist that happens within just the first few minutes of the broadcast. The broadcast started out establishing a “sense of space” that the astronauts are flying and then the astronauts crash. That very sudden and unexpected plot twist made the broadcast attention-grabbing. Not to mention, the spaceship crash was orchestrated very well. When the spaceship was about to crash the astronauts’ voices started getting louder and louder and depicted fear and a sense of urgency in their voices. Then immediately after, there was a dramatic silence that followed. Immediately after the crash a speech was read announcing the death of the astronauts without any context of what happened. The production of the production was very smart in how they told you enough so that you are interested but not enough to where you know the full story so you want to keep listening. I also want to point out that the eerieness of the background sound while the astronaut’s deaths were announced, really sparked emotion.
The second thing that stood out to me was that the radio show was not introduced until 2 minutes after the broadcast. The hook came before the introduction of the actual radio show. I found that very different as I am used to hearing an introduction before work is presented but for the purposes of a radio show it worked perfectly.
Audio storytelling is a very enjoyable form of listening to stories, but I could not help but think about how grueling the process of actually telling an audio story is. Paying attention to the sound effects and background music got me really surprised about how the radio show was produced. The sound effects along with the dialogue I was listening to made me remain interested in the story. From camera click sound effects when the astronauts were taking pictures for evidence, to the exhales and heavy breathing of the astronauts to depict that they really were walking on the moon, allowed me to paint a picture of the story being told.
Abrumrad’s claim that audio storytelling allows for co-imagining and co-authorship of the listener and the speaker is absolutely true. The reason being, at the very ending of the Moon Grafiti broadcast, the astronauts were discussing their fate and one of them stated “It’s really really pretty up here.” When the astronaut said that there was a vivid image in my head of what he was seeing. That image I have is different from the image my peers who listened to the broadcast envisioned… THAT IS THE BEAUTY OF AUDIO STORYTELLING. The narrator tells the story, but as a listener, I paint the actual picture of what is being said.
But hey, even if Neil Armstrong was presumably said to die on the moon, he’d have a lifetime supply of cheese. (That’s a sweet deal if you ask me!)