Monday, 25 August 2014

Sound is the New Story

By Lee Kindler

While the emergence of TV as an art form has been widely celebrated, its daggy uncle—the wireless—has been experiencing a quiet renaissance of its own. Panellists Benjamen Walker (Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything) Jessie Borrelle (Paper Radio) and Miyuki Jokiranta (Radio National) are at the forefront of this golden era of radio.


For most people radio is music, current affairs and sport but it also has a long tradition of artistic experimentation. With more and more people now accessing the wireless via podcasts, creators of radio have been able to break free of the constraints of the broadcast hour. They are now able to reach wider audiences who are willing to go with storytelling that pushes the conventions of the medium.

This panel’s discussion centred on the potential of radio to move in new creative directions.

Having begun his career writing comic books before moving to radio, Walker drew parallels between the two creative endeavours. “Like creating a comic book with a pen and paper, with just a microphone and recorder you can create a whole new world.”

Borrelle said that she saw her 'Paper Radio' creations as transcending the often predictable conventions of radio as we have known it in the past.

Each panellist shared a short snippet of their work. This included a segment by Walker about being thrown into a painting, part of a story that Borrelle had worked on, about marrying a race horse, and a powerful sound collage by Jokiranta. All three were strange yet engaging and left the audience wanting more.

Writing has increasingly become entwined with other types of media and new forms of writing are emerging as a result of these new connections; it was around the topic of the unique skills involved in writing for podcasts that this panel became most engaging.

When creating her show 'Soundproof', Jokiranta uses her knowledge as a sound designer to create an interaction between words and sound. She pointed out that one of the challenges of writing for radio is the need to mould words around sound rather than seeing sound as a separate entity.

Borrelle stressed the need to be able to play around with different ideas by alternating between writing and recording rather than using the traditional technique of writing a script and recording it later.

Walker discussed his strategy of counterpoint: “Using one voice against another… magical things can happen.”

'Sound is the New Story' was an exciting discussion about an emerging art form. Let’s enjoy the great TV writing that is happening at the moment but let's also embrace and explore the creative explosion that is happening in radio as well.

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