Teaching Audio - 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.

Another good entry point is soundscapes, audio stories without narration, like the Boomtown piece which recently ran on Marketplace.

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 I think it works.

Audio slideshows had their moment in the early aughts, and no one did this better than the Media Storm collective. Here's an example from a trailer https://youtu.be/NE7C4yF78lI, and another also integrating some video below.

Another favorite website is Transom, which has great entries, into specific topics, and also explanations of why radio craftspeople are so passionate about their trade.

Here are video versions of the same Transom take here, including one on one of podcasting's leading lights.

Roman Mars — This is Radio from This is Radio on Vimeo.

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.

If you found this tutorial useful, check out other installments. Here's the full list of chapters from my audio tutorials:

Teaching Audio -- Instilling Passion

Teaching Audio part 1 -- Recording Audio

Teaching Audio part 2 -- Writing for the Ear

Teaching Audio part 3 -- Audio Editing

Teaching Audio part 4 -- Sound Effects, Using Music and Audio Libraries

Teaching Audio part 5 -- Anchor Leads, News Writing, Judgment and Features

Teaching Audio part 6 -- Voicing

Teaching Audio part 7 -- On the Scene Reporting

Teaching Audio part 8 -- Interviews

Teaching Audio part 9 -- Newscasts and Stacking the News

Teaching Audio part 10 -- Commercials

Teaching Audio part 11 -- Raising Your Game

Teaching Audio part 12 -- Podcasting Intro

Teaching Audio part 13 -- Window Dressing

Teaching Audio part 14 -- Podcast Lists

Teaching Audio part 15 -- Big Podcasts, Little City

Teaching Audio part 16 -- Listening to Podcasts and Publishing your Own

Teaching Audio, part 17 -- Joining Podcast Communities

Teaching Audio, part 18 -- Podcasting for PR

Teaching Audio, part 19 -- Promoting Your Podcast

Teaching Audio, part 20 -- Making Money in Podcasting

Teaching Audio, part 21 -- Building a Career in Audio