Audio within audio: Story-telling and the Evocation of Emotion in Podcasting
Authors: Karathanasopoulou, E.
Editors: Chignell, H. and McDonald, K.
This chapter looks at audio storytelling and the evocation of emotion and atmosphere through the use and recreation of audio technologies such as the telephone, voice memo and PA systems. Chion’s cinematic “on-the-air” concept will beanalysed as a ‘doubling-up’ of auditory space in podcasting (1994: 55). While “on-the-air” sound may have been considered in relation to radio before (ex. Crook, 1999:86-87), the prevalence of headphone listening and the wide useof the mobile phone as a listening device for podcasts, deliver new exciting parallelsand creative avenues. Dramas such as Passenger Listand Documentaries such as S-Townare analysed here and reveal how audio technologies may carry inherent intimate, emotive qualities and how these can be invoked andused as narrative devices in audio storytelling, factual and fictional. This chapters builds on my own research into radio as an intimate medium. That research revealed the existence of a number of intimaciesderiving fromdifferent combinationsof two core intimate modes that exist in audio media: technological intimacy, which is inherent in ourlistening and recording/production technologies;and performative intimacy, which may enhance the medium’s inherent intimacy to different degrees, depending on genre, producer, production methods(Karathanasopoulou, 2015). Technological intimacydescribes arelationship between the medium and the listener, regardless of type of programme.In the case of podcasting particularly, this stems from on-demand listening technologies, headphone listening and listening on portable mobile phone devices. Performative (or personal) intimacy, on the other hand, describes the relationship between the listener and a specific programme and/or producer, voice, audiotext. Intimacy here is understood to stem from the broadcaster and the ways she uses her voice, audio technology and mediated sound in general.I examine here podcastingas a ‘medium’ (Llinares et all, 2018)and the unique ways that different genresand creatorswithin it can combine these two relationships in order to create a new set of unique intimacies, only present in this medium. By homing in on the usage of ‘on-air-sound’ this chapter aims to reveal textures and modes of signification that arenew and emerging. It aims to observe and describeelements of podcasting’s intimacy canon as this is being formulated. The work builds onto the now established field of radio studies and uses as its launch pad Tim Crook’s discussion of Chion’s “materialising sound indices” (1999:86). It looks at how, telephone conversations, voice memos, loudspeaker announcements are used in both fictional and factual narratives in podcasting in order to create immersive, emotive intimate storytelling. I look at how emotion can be generated by the doubling up of a phone conversation within a podcast that is being listened to from a listener’s own mobile phone. How a voice memo recorded in a protagonist’s phone can become an intimate aural object for the audience who is listening from a similar device. How a PA announcement listened to through headphones has a strongercapacity to immerse the listener in an imagined aural environment than it would have done if listened to via a kitchen-top radio.