Are you afraid of the Radio Lab?

*Alternate titles included “Tales from the Radio Lab” and “Scary Radio Lab stories to listen to in the dark”

This is the first show from Radio Lab I’ve ever listened to and I enjoyed immensely. The subject matter was my absolute cup of tea. The title Ghost Stories, is what initially drew me in. So naturally I expected some spooky stuff and this show delivered.

In this episode, there were several stories explored. One was of a group of people trying to figure out if there was an afterlife or not, the origins of the CPR dummy, lucid Dreaming and a mechanical monk.

"Hello There! I'm absolutely terrifying!"

“Hello There! I’m absolutely terrifying!”

As much as I’d love to sit here and discuss each story in detail and what exactly made the mechanical monk absolutely terrifying, I’m not going to.

You can go listen to the show in it’s entirety here

What I’m going to discuss is the Audio Techniques used by Radio Lab in this Show.

For starters, each segment ( like CPR and mechanical Monk ) had a beginning middle and an end. They were neat and tidy. They would then give a little info on the topic, flow into the story give a point and end. Great example of what Ira Glass was saying in his interview regarding Audio Storytelling.

There were also bumpers between the stories. They didn’t just throw everything at you. There were moments to breathe and reminders of what exactly it was you were listening to.

What I found clever was their mixing of the interview and the show hosts talking. Like they would ask a question and take the audio from the interview to answer it. Or they’d mention someone and then cut to the recorded interview audio. It sort of made it seem like there was a live in studio interview going on.

Each story also incorporated sound effects and music. In one segment they were describing a trip to a place in Paris that had rickety stairs. They added in the sounds of creaking stairs. This added depth to the world they had created. They set the scene. Music wise, it was always something that fit with the moment. An example would be the story on Lucid dreaming. While a story of a rather creepy dream was being told, eerie sounding music was added in. A few spooky sound effects were also layered in. This made for an extremely spooky aura.

The Radio Lab crew combined all these techniques to create a world that really felt real. It was as if I as the listener was being transported to each of the stories they discussed. All the sound effects, music, audio clips and voices are what allowed them to do so. This show was a perfect example of a well made product of audio storytelling techniques.

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