Thursday, June 25, 2015

Struggle and Hope: Honoring a Black Teacher

As part of the Struggle and Hope web, documentary project on Oklahoma's still surviving all-black towns, here's a short documentary, highlighting the Oklahoma African American Educators Hall of Fame and one of its recent inductees, the late Lola Parker Dean. She fought for her job and those of other black teachers after desegregation. As the United States goes through more pivotal moments in tense race relations, it's important to have a better knowledge of history, deeper into the people's history, so that we make progress and strive toward a future where color is only a positive.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Teaching Audio, part 1 - Instilling Passion

The past few years, I've had the privilege of teaching journalism radio / audio classes at the University Nevada, Reno. Audio to me is magical, intimate and boundless... the "theater of the mind". Podcasters are now treated as rock stars, so it's also a bit of a renewed golden age for audio after years of understatement in journalism departments. The next class I will teach this coming Fall will be a la carte. Students will be able to choose podcasting as an exclusive endeavor. I'll also have other options for those wanting to pursue newscasting with news radio stories, enterprise features, non-narrated audio, or even radio documentaries, or a mix of their choosing.

When it was a mandatory part of the broadcast track at the Reynolds School of Journalism (which it no longer is), many students going into these classes actually didn't listen to anything besides music. To instill passion, I would try to see if any students enjoyed music with an emphasis on message-driven lyrics or storytelling. A fun example is when Daft Punk turned an interview with synthesizer genius Giorgio Moroder into a song (see above).

I try to ease students into the audiosphere with examples that show them some of the possibilities of this world they haven't really thought of, or consumed on its own. One good entry point is video with brilliant audio, such as the now famous graphic and nat sound enhanced audio interview of Dock Ellis, and his supposed LSD no-hitter.

To make students realize how much work goes into audio and how essential it is to any video (cue any horror film as well), I show them the above clip first without and then with the audio, from one of my favorite movies, the disturbing "Clean, Shaven". This scene goes into audio hallucinations and audio hyper-sensitivity, so it works.

To widen their minds a little more, I also delve into audio as art which is still a rare form, but at which multimedia artist Miranda July has excelled at. I also show them one of my own, from a mashup phase I was once in, where I relived California media spectacles, including the O.J. Simpson car chase and the Rodney King "Can't We All Just Get Along" moment.

Do you have any audio passion moments I could add to this list and share with my classes? Don't hesitate in the comments below or on my Twitter feed @usnico.


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