fall 2014 // MWF 11:15-12:05 // laura michael brown

journal #5

For your journal #5 (due 12/8), I want you all to find an episode of a podcast or a radio program (preferably a recent episode), listen to it, and then reflect on your listening experience.

In your one page journal response, please answer the following questions:

  1. What did you listen to? Name the program, the episode, and the date it originally aired.
  2. What was this episode about? What was its purpose? You don’t need to go into great detail, but include at least a sentence or two that describes the topic or topics that were up for discussion and identifies the point that you think they were trying to make.
  3. Describe the style of vocal delivery. Is this podcast/program more conversational, more journalistic (like a news program), or maybe more formal narration (like the speakers are reading from a script)? Describe their tone of voice, how quickly or slowly they spoke, how loudly or softly they spoke, how much or how little they varied their pitch, etc.
  4. How do they use effects? Do they add any sounds or music to enhance the listening experience? Does the podcast/program seem to be heavily edited or not? How can you tell?
  5. What did you like about their vocal delivery? Was there anything that annoyed you? More importantly, do you think that their decisions about vocal delivery, the use of effects, and the level of editing helped them to achieve their purpose and effectively communicate their argument? Did they make any choices that took away from its effectiveness?
  6. Would you ever listen to this program again? Why or why not?

Searching around in iTunes can also be a great way to find new podcasts, but here’s a list of a few of my favorites. You might start here if you’re not sure where to look; however, you are free to choose any program you like!

Slate podcasts: Slate, an online magazine, hosts a number of podcasts across a variety of subjects. Great contributors, and a good way to get some different perspectives on current events. There’s the “Culture Gabfest,” the “Political Gabfest,” “Hang Up and Listen” (sports), “Double X” (women’s issues), and “Lexicon Valley” (language!), to name a few. One of the newest podcasts, “Working,” features interviews with people who have interesting/strange jobs about what it is that they do all day long (if you’re a Stephen Colbert fan at all, the episode with his interview is excellent).

NPR podcasts: NPR also hosts a number of excellent podcasts; most of these are just downloads of their regular radio programs. I don’t care a thing about cars, but old episodes of “Car Talk” can still be a hilarious listen (I was raised on that program). “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” is a weekly call-in news quiz hosted by Peter Sagal and a rotating cast of comedians. “Planet Money” talks about economics in a way that makes sense. “All Songs Considered” is my go-to source for finding out about new music (the NPR music website itself is entirely excellent). “Pop Culture Happy Hour” is fun (though I tend to prefer the topics discussed on Slate’s “Culture Gabfest”). You’ll see that NPR is more than a tool parents use to make their kids miserable in the car.

American Public Media podcasts: APM is responsible for the brilliant “A Prairie Home Companion,” featuring comedy sketches, music, and host Garrison Keillor. The podcast version doesn’t play the full show, unfortunately, but it does give an excerpt from the Lake Wobegon monologue every week. I also recommend the daily “A Writer’s Almanac,” in which Garrison Keillor reads poems and talks about that day in history. They also have shows not hosted by Garrison Keillor.

This American Life: Each week, This American Life chooses a theme and features several stories (mostly real, but sometimes fictional) on that theme. Every episode is a little different. You might start at their favorites page to find some of the most popular episodes.

Serial: A This American Life spin-off that has recently taken the podcasting world by storm, this is one nonfiction story unfolded week by week. Still in it’s first season, the current story is trying to piece together what really happened in a 1999 murder case. If you haven’t already listened to the podcast, you have to start with Episode 1 (and then don’t be surprised if you find yourself binge-listening to the rest of the season so far).

Death, Sex, and Money: Host Anna Sale interviews celebrities and regular people about the things we think about a lot but tend not to talk about. The conversations are thoughtful and striking. It’s a relatively new program, so there’s not a huge archive, but I would still bet that there’s at least one episode about a topic that is interesting to you.

This is, of course, only scratching the surface of what’s out there. Search around and see what strikes your fancy.

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