Who are Ira Glass and Jad Abumrad?

Ira Glass and Jad Abumrad are two experts in audio storytelling and this week I was able to see a glimpse of their thought process and opinions on audio storytelling.

LOW TICKET WARNING: An Evening With Ira Glass - Academy Center of ...

In Ira Glass’s video, Storytelling Part One, he starts out with the basics. He talks about the two basic building blocks for audio storytelling. One of them is the anecdote like the sequence of actions (i.e. this led to this and then this happened…etc.). It is important to have bait in your audio storytelling. This means to raise questions that you then can answer from the beginning. The other basic building block Ira talks about is having a moment of reflection. This means explaining and telling the viewer the point of the story. This video was extremely helpful for me with knowing the basics because I would not know where to even start. Something that was mentioned in the video was that it’s not like a paper that you write in school where you have your topic sentence then the body paragraphs, rather it starts out with the actions and you should flip between the two basic building blocks when narrating a story.

I also ended up watching part 2, part 3, and part 4 of his videos because they were short and I thought were extremely helpful. Some of the key things I took away from the 3 other videos were:

  • Set aside as much time looking for stories then editing
  • Learn that you need to abandon the “crap”
  • Failure is a big part of success & good stories are sometimes purely luck
  • People will go through a phase of good taste and falling short of not having that special thing we want them to have. To fix this you need to just do a lot of work
  • Talk the way people/you normally talk
  • Don’t sound and act like people on tv –> everything¬† is more compelling when you talk like yourself
  • Don’t show a horrible personality –> (only talking about yourself). Instead, talk about yourself but than also listen to others

Jad Abumrad is the creator of Radiolab. In his video “How Radio Creates Empathy“, he talks about how the absence of pictures gives you the imagination that gives co-authorship and co-imagination connecting the storyteller to the viewer. Giving the “paintbrush” to the viewer to picture what they are talking about fills the gap of no picture and allows people to connect and create empathy.

Jad Abumrad | WNYC Studios | Podcasts

The other video I watched from Jad Abumrad, talked about how ideas happen, more specifically how did RadioLab happen? The video focuses on two words “gut churn”, and throughout the talk, he talks about how he would get gut churn where he would feel sick to his stomach and feel like he was in life and death fighting for survival. Jad mentions how there are pointing arrows that they would “see” and follow even though they didn’t know where it would take them. In the video, he says “change can’t be planned…it is only something that can be recognized after the fact”. For him and his team, they do sticky notes to reflect on what they are doing. The three key things that I personally took away from this video were:

  • “Gut churn” is part of the creative process
  • Reflect, reflect, reflect, (i.e. what does it mean to be a dolphin?–> be the dolphin and get inside the dolphin and explain it that way)
  • Mess around with different things and follow the pointing arrow

Overall, while watching videos from Ira Glass and Jad Abumrad, I was able to learn about the basics of audio storytelling, pick up on some pointers they have, and see the thought process that experts have on the topic of audio storytelling. These videos and the tips I picked up on I will hopefully will be able to implement in my work this week with audio.

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