Radio Silence

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“If you think about it, the leaves grow in silence. Grass grows in silence. Flowers grow in silence. The stars come out in silence. . . ”

Virginia Phillips lists those silent things at the beginning of Silence Among Friends. It’s a story about silence at Quaker meetings produced by Joni Murphy when she was a radio student of mine in 2002.

You won’t find “radio” on Virginia’s list. Silence is a no-no, dead air. In fact, some radio stations (most?) have alarms in case the signal goes silent for too long. Radio silence sounds like something’s wrong and stations want to avoid that. Even in a podcast, too much quiet might prompt a listener to check their player to make sure everything is okay.

But what if you want to produce a story where silence is the focus? How do you overcome the problem of dead air? And how do you prepare listeners for a long period of silence like the a 20-second swath Joni has in her story? The answers are the focus of this edition of HowSound.

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