Sound drives stories in fascinating ways and takes them to whole new levels. This particular audio story would not be the same without the radio sounds, the camera clicks, and the intense background music. The Apollo 11, which is what this narrative is based on, was an intense mission by two American astronauts, which ultimately paved the path for space travel, not only as a nation, but rather as a collective world. This event was important and powerful and the sounds that The Truth Podcast selectively chose backs these feelings up. The videos that Jad Abumrad created and his beliefs also go along with this narrative. This audio story induces the listener into a dream state and allows for imagination to take them to the moon.
Audio storytelling has been around for several years and allows listeners to take a more intimate approach to processing a story. An example on a different subject than #moongraffiti would be last week with the TED talks. When the speakers say something funny the video allows the listeners to hear the applause and laughter from this audience. This almost makes the listener laugh along simply because everyone else is laughing. However, when listening to the commentary back and forth between the mission controllers and the astronauts this allows for a different emotion for the listener, one of anxiety and thrill. If these extra sounds played behind or on top of the actual meat of the video make listeners feel this way, I wonder what it was actually like on the day Apollo 11 took off for the moon. Another important aspect of audio storytelling that was explored in Abumard’s short clips is the descriptive words that are chosen. When listening to the #moongraffiti there was one line that stood out to me because of its descriptiveness, “it’s like fine powdery sandy grain that I can pick up with my toes”. This sentence takes the listeners to the moon in 1969 like they are there with Armstrong and Aldrin.
The producers of this short narrative used many audio techniques to convey their story. The first I noticed was how they layered the sound in the first 10 seconds of the story. Starting with “the truth” and then continuing with the controllers signaling to the astronauts. There are constant beeps, clicking of the signalers, and white noise after each radio conversation. The conversations and situation build dramatically and then all communication cuts out. It is interesting because while the noise definitely plays a key role in determining the mood in audio storytelling, I think the lack of sounds does as well. In this specific story the suspense builds only to be cut by silence and creates the thrill and urgency only to be cut to nothing by silence. In a situation like this a lack of sound or a loss of communication to the guys who are flying in outer space is not wanted. Especially in a place that in 1969 the world had very little knowledge of. Another example of how they used sound in this audio story is when the silence did come, the voice of Nixon appeared with the speech that was prepared in the event that these brave men did not return to planet earth. This was interesting because a lot of people do not know this speech was written and prepared, and they have definitely never heard it. This speech saying the astronauts would not be returning was brought in by a cracking noise like the channels of everyone’s television were changing.
Another sound that made this narration even better was when the astronauts were breathing heavily into their microphone. The nerves and fatigue in their breath allows the creation of the illusion the listeners are there with them. Finally, another key moment is when the astronauts are taking pictures of one another on the moon with the American flag. It is a suspenseful moment because they think they are going to die on the moon, but they still take a moment to take a picture with pride for our country. This specific moment shows how they used sound because of the camera clicking noise. This adds to the suspense and gives the listener a clear picture in the mind of what is happening at that moment.
Something I have not noticed before is the quick bantering. When this happens it does process in my mind, but not when thinking about the sounds and the roles they play. The astronauts talking over one another bouncing ideas off each other’s minds goes to show they are in some sort of danger. In this specific case they are trying to figure out what they should do if they die on the moon.
All of the choices they made when recording this narration made for the perfect audio story. Even down to the voice who played Richard Nixon because he had a mystical, slow and steady voice that sounded very presidential and calm in a tricky situation like this. When the voice emphasizes specific words and was placed above serious and stimulating background music it made for the perfect combination to bring the listener to 1969, hook and worry them.