Story Dissection: Dead Animal Man

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One of the most important parts of the workshops I teach at Transom is listening. We listen to radio stories at the beginning of nearly every class. Listening is essential for developing a critical ear.

While my playlist of stories has evolved over the years, one stalwart is “Dead Animal Man” by Ira Glass. It’s a profile of Clarence Hicks, a Baltimore city employee who, as the title suggests, picks up dead animals for the Department of Sanitation.

“Dead Animal Man” is so full of radio goodness; I can’t imagine I would ever not play it in class. The story prompts a lot of conversation about interviewing, field recording, note taking, writing, structure…. In short, it’s excellent for teaching. And, besides, it’s a lot of fun to listen to.

On this edition of HowSound, I dissect “Dead Animal Man.” I feature the story in its entirety, then go back through it minute by minute and talk about what Ira’s doing in terms of production and storytelling.

This episode originally aired in 2008 on Saltcast, the predecessor to HowSound. It received a lot of positive response then so I thought it deserved a re-airing.

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  • Tim Smith

    8.25.15

    Reply

    This episode is absolutely amazing. II noticed a lot of your comments when I was listening through the first time and the one that really stuck with me was where Ira says “C’mon”. I love that part. I think it adds so much to the story and even if Clarence doesn’t have a change of opinion, we know Ira does. I think it lets the listener feel ok about their own inner change.

    Thanks for another amazing episode.

  • Kevin Driedger

    8.26.15

    Reply

    At the end of the episode you plug the wonderful Memory Palace, which is hosted by NATE DiMeo, not Nick.

  • Rob Rosenthal

    8.26.15

    Reply

    Thanks, Tim. Much obliged. And, Kevin, I’m cringing. Yikes. I’m planning to re-cut the outro this week. But, in the meantime, thanks for pointing it out. — r

  • Hizzle

    8.26.15

    Reply

    Oh no! Nate DiMeo! :*(

  • Rob Rosenthal

    8.27.15

    Reply

    Fixed Nate’s name. Whew. Sorry Nate! Duh. — r

  • Marissa Ortega-Welch

    8.28.15

    Reply

    Wow, what a wonderful episode! I’m a new radio producer and have been listening to all the episodes of HowSound as a wonderful and *affordable* master class. This episode was especially helpful. Thank you for making it! I’d love to hear more of these kind of story dissections.

  • David Berner

    10.19.15

    Reply

    Used this in a elementary audio storytelling class at Columbia College Chicago. Marvelous.

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