This past Tuesday night, section 1 of ds106 here at UMW (i.e. my section! 🙂 ) aired three group radio shows on ds106radio. As with the Spring 2011 semester, the shows were amazingly produced given how little experience the students have with audio beforehand coupled with how little time they had to create a twenty minute radio show. I love it how UMW students rise to the occasion when challenged, and they rarely fail to impress.
You can hear the 1 hour 20 minute broadcast of the live radio shows and class discussion below: ds106 Radio Shows Section 1, Tuesday, March 13th
The first group to broadcast was the AMCX Radio show that only featured half there show given they did a 30 minutes show (we were limited to 20 minute sections for the class broadcast). What’s remarkable about this show are the nuanced, detail orientated elements of NPR inspired, public radio effects integrated into the show. The Vice Presidential Bagman debate was quite funny, if a bit too long, and the search for detective Kim Droom featured just how powerful sound effects and setting can be for communicating effectively through audio. Like I said, it is amazing to see just how effective these shows can be with very little direct instruction and experience.
The next show was the JBC Mystery Radio that was deeply inspired by This American Life, and the first half of this show wove a brilliant psychological web of intrigue through sound that never divulged the mystery behind the mystery. It tooks place on UMW’s campus 30 years earlier, and you sat riveted by the audio wait to hear what everyone was reacting to only to be left wanting more. The introduced an expert who was there to explain the wide range of reactions to the mystery we know nothing about. And while it was a bit harder to hear the expert’s advice during the second act at times, the quality of the show is evident. A tight script, impressive radio voices, and an overall original concept of a mystery that was well executed.
Finally, we ended the night “Trapped in the Closet with Dr. Love,” a call-in love advice radio show that framed itself as a satire of cheesy 70s call-in radio shows. Once again, the production value of the show was excellent, and the way in which they managed pacing, various narrative breaks, the bumpers, etc. was extremely well done. In the discussion after the show I was concerned that this show might have depended too much on stereotypes that re-enforce rather than challenging some of the ideas they were trying to poke fun at—even if unintentionally.
The discussion that followed was an important because it focused on what we should be doing here at UMW—openly discussing the issues that are potentially difficult or uncomfortable around creative expression. The question of when satire is successful or not was raised, and I tried to illustrate some of the potentially disastrous implications of bad satire, a sentiment Maura Monahan responded to on her blog after the fact quite powerfully.
In many ways this semester has been the best ds106 class yet in that the thornier issues around audience, creative license, creative limits, and constructive criticism, have all come into play. And I love it when the discussion that happens remains uncomfortable while at the same time challenging some of the ideas, experiences, and expressions we take for granted. If what we are creating is challenging everyone or making at least some of us uncomfortable I wonder if it’s worth the time spent on creating?