This is part one of the three-part documentary radio series created for WFHB by students in my I-69 class at Indiana University's Department of Communication and Culture. Members of the tiny Bethel Christian Church have mixed feelings about the new stretch of Interstate 69 being built in rural Southern Indiana. They hope the road will bring jobs, but they know it will divide their community and affect a delicate soundscape they believe connects them to God.
This piece features the voices of Jim Wade, Pastor David Self, and Charles Ramsden of Bethel Church in Springville, Indiana. This story was reported by students Alyson Arrendale, Jen Samson, and Leroy Velasquez. It was edited by me. My co-executive producer of I-69: Sounds and Stories was Matt Guschwan. Produced in partnership with WFHB and Traditional Arts Indiana.
Here's the original intro that was read when the piece aired:
During the summer, twelve students took a new class at Indiana University called Audio Production as Service: Sounds and Stories in the Path of I-69. Led by Mack Hagood, a PhD candidate and Associate Instructor in the Department of Communication and Culture, the students broke into research teams to interview rural residents and record natural sounds in the proposed pathway of the I-69 extension. They wanted to learn how I-69 will impact life stories and soundscapes in southwestern Indiana.
Today in part one of our series I-69: Sounds and Stories we visit the community of Bethel Christian Church, located in Springville, Indiana, about 17 miles south of Bloomington. This small church, which dates back to the late 1800s, is not easy to find today, but it will soon be near a major interstate—though not near an onramp or offramp. The twenty or so regular church members hope the interstate will bring economic benefits to the region. However, they are saddened that the highway will cost them two beloved elders in the church, physically divide their community, and overrun the natural sounds they love—sounds that they believe bring them closer not only to nature, but to God. In this report, you will hear the voices of church member Jim Wade, Pastor David Self, and church member Charles Ramsden, who is losing his home to I-69 and leaving the Bethel Church community.
I was recently interviewed
about my tinnitus research for 3620,
a podcast produced by the doctoral students of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Producer Kevin Gotkin
and I discussed the neurophysiology of phantom head noise and the curious ways the condition has been represented and communicated online. It was a fun chat and Kevin produced a great piece. (MP3 link
I recently wrote a short article for the sound studies blog Sounding Out, called "Listening to Tinnitus: Roles of Media When Hearing Breaks Down
." It's a "wide net" piece that points to a number of opportunities for sound/media scholars and the tinnitus community to learn from one another. Tinnitus ("ringing in the ears") is a tricky problem space where media are variously seen as cause and cure. Media are also used to objectify and publicize this poorly understood and subjective condition. However, media advocacy and message boards can also exacerbate people's negative experience of their tinnitus--and potentially lead others to problematize their own previously benign or unnoticed tinnitus. Closer study of the relations between listening, discourse, and media is needed.
I'm thrilled to (belatedly) announce that a series I produced with my Indiana University students and community radio station WFHB won “Best Radio Use of Sound 2011-12
” from the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists. It's worth noting that this was not a student award--this work won first place in an award designated for professional journalists!
In the class, Audio Production as Service: Sounds and Stories in the Path of I-69
, students did ethnographic fieldwork, producing a three-part radio documentary on a controversial new highway and the changes it will bring to Indiana communities and soundscapes. Congrats to my fellow series editors Matt Guschwan and Cara Weaver as well as all the students who did the interviews and field recordings that made the series possible: Alyson Arrendale, John Dupper, Barton Girdwood, Kristin McKain, Lauren Hersch, Blake Lowe, Bryan Marple, Jen Samson, Nick Tolson, Michael Vega, Leroy Velasquez, and Cara Weaver.
This Friday I'll be giving the lecture at the IU Department of Communication and Culture's Virginia Gunderson Colloquium. Each year, the graduate student deemed by the committee to have written the best paper of the preceding academic year gives the talk. I've been to the past three Gunderson Colloquia and they were fantastic, so I'm hoping to live up to that high standard. My talk will be based upon my paper, "Quiet Comfort: Noise, Otherness, and the Production of Personal Space." The talk will be this Friday, September 16th at 4p.m. in IU's Classroom Office Building, Room 100. Everyone is welcome!
ABSTRACT: Marketing, news reports, and reviews of Bose QuietComfort noise-canceling headphones position them as essential gear for the mobile rational actor of the neoliberal market—the business traveler. This article concerns noise-canceling headphones’ utility as soundscaping devices, which render a sense of personal space by mediating sound. The airplane and airport are paradoxical spaces in which the pursuit of freedom impedes its own enjoyment. Rather than fight the discomforts of air travel as a systemic problem, travelers use the tactic of soundscaping to suppress the perceived presence of others. Attention to soundscaping enables the scholar to explore relationships between media, space, freedom, otherness, and selfhood in an era characterized by neoliberalism and increased mobility.
Bloomington community radio station WFHB is currently producing three documentary audio pieces based on student research and reporting conducted in my summer class "Audio Production as Service: Sounds and Stories in the Path of I-69
." Under the guidance of News Director January Jones and Executive Producer Matt Guschwan, WFHB producers are assembling three 8-minute pieces based on scripts, audio recordings, and fieldnotes produced by IU students. By interviewing rural residents and recording natural soundscapes, these students explored the human and environmental impacts of the proposed interstate extension through sound.
Stay tuned for links to the finished pieces once they air...
If you or someone you know is an IU student with an interest in audio editing and production, I have an independent study available. Right now, twelve students and I are wrapping up C385 Audio Production as Service: Sounds and Stories in the Path of I-69, a summer session 1 course in which we did soundscape recordings and interviews at twelve sites in Monroe and Greene counties. Based on this fieldwork, students are writing scripts for short radio documentary pieces. Unfortunately, however, we won't have time to produce all four pieces. That's where the independent study comes in--working closely with the news staff at WFHB, the student will create finished radio pieces that will air on the station and appear online. If you're interested, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I recently submitted revisions for an article to appear in a special sound-related issue of American Quarterly, due out in the fall. In "QuietComfort: Noise, Otherness, and the Mobile Production of Personal Space,” I explore the use of noise-cancelling headphones as soundscaping devices that render a sense of personal space, particularly in the course of air travel. The airport and airplane, I argue, are spaces that reveal the contradictory nature of neoliberal capitalism, as everyone pursues his or her individualistic freedom at once, resulting in crowding and delays. Rather than confront the illusory nature of individualism and attend to the ways our lives and bodies are enmeshed with those of others, we often use sound media to tune out the "noise" of those around us. Looking closely at marketing and reviews for Bose QuietComfort headphones, I show how users and "noisemakers" are positioned in terms of differences such as class, gender, and race. Noise, I argue, is othered sound--sound that subjects refuse to integrate into themselves.