Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Sociology

Academics

Radio Documentary

Posted on June 18, 2013

Michael Beneduce

On Thursday April 18th, my visual sociology class gave a warm welcome to Rob Rosenthal, one of the world’s most renowned radio documenters and directors. Rob performed about an hour-long presentation, which covered different aspects and the importance of radio documentary and what it has to offer our understanding of humanity and the way we live our lives. Rob truly believes that if he is doing his job correctly and using active tape, he can help to create a picture without using visuals. He suggests that there is something very unique about the human voice and that it is much more content rich than any other mediums. Something that Rob felt very important in the radio industry was the ‘power of the voice’ within story telling. When people tell stories, they are usually able to grasp full attention by the listener, out of hope for an ultimate purpose or conclusion. Rob had several examples of the power of the voice and sounds, and was able to demonstrate them by using recordings.

Rob believes that story telling and sound is embedded within us. He demonstrated the power of the human voice by showing us several recordings, the first of which was of a young boy who was forced to kill rabbits in order to feed his family. However, it wasn’t until the end of the recording that we found out what the actual purpose for the killing was, which mentally kept me, as a listener, engaged in the story. In another example, our class learned of a murder case that took place in Texas in the early 2000s. The recording is simply of the voices of both sets of parents of the children who were involved in the murder (the victim and suspected murderer). Although there was no background music or sounds, the power of the words and voices of the sets of parents was more powerful and significant than any picture can depict. Rob also displayed another recording about a photographer who went out at night and photographed people from outside their homes –“She Sees Your Every Move”. In this example, there was a strong use of eerie music that helped me to truly feel as if I were there with the lady, taking pictures at night. Rob stated that if he is doing his job correctly, the listener should feel as if he/she is a co-author of the story. Given these examples, I truly felt as though I was apart of the experience.

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