I Wish You Could Hear Me

Ricky, Pete and little Jules

Intro from Jay Allison: This is Jules Jenssen's first radio piece ever--a gentle offering to his father. He made it as a way to help his father deal with mourning and loss. Jules said if "I Wish You Could Hear Me" has a moral, it is: "Don’t leave things unsaid with the people you love." Jules addresses this in a way only audio can. He submitted this story to us as a rough draft and polished it with help from Transom’s Viki Merrick. Give a listen and then read Jules' notes on "the making of" below.

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Listen to “I Wish You Could Hear Me”

First Foray

Although this is my first time telling a story in this medium, there were many reasons why it came naturally to me and was so rewarding to create. I’ve been listening to NPR my entire life. My parents were always donators and supporters of our local station, and the voices of Garrison Keillor, Ira Glass, and Ray and Tom of Car Talk have been familiar to me for as long as I can remember. Also, in more recent years, between the amount of time I spend driving and the podcast boom, I’ve continued to enjoy the art of the radio story and become familiar with new voices. The mix of skills that I’ve already developed, such as audio editing and studio production — paired with a natural verbosity, and an inspiring idea — made creating this story fun, and rewarding. It also created a hunger to bring more stories to the world.

Developing The Narrative

I don’t want to mislead anybody into thinking that this version is exactly as I first created it. I was lucky enough to work directly with Viki Merrick on things like narrative structure and final voicing. I now realize how lucky I was to get insight and assistance from such accomplished individuals as Viki, Samantha Broun, and Syd Lewis at Transom. With their help, I was able to take my initial idea, hone it and give it a concise, consolidated form. As previously mentioned, I was lucky to have a very inspiring idea to work from. Without giving away the twist of my story, I can say that my father had the original idea to use the source material for the story in a different context. When he first explained his concept and played me the source material, it ignited my creativity. From that moment, I spent 6 to 8 hours a day over four consecutive days and completed the full first draft. Refining the narrative and script took another 20 or so hours over the course of the next six weeks. Through the constructive and considerate input from Transom, I realized that certain elements of my narrative were too much about myself and not enough about the subject of the story. Being the creator, writer, narrator, editor, and composer had made it hard for me to see the narrative clearly. After editing, refining, and re-scripting certain parts, I learned a lot about which details are actually necessary in a story like this. Additionally, it helped me understand what a stranger and first-time listener would need to know to fully appreciate this story. I plan on creating more pieces that come from both the personal and impersonal sides of the aisle.

Rick and Jules
Rick and Jules

Lasting Effects

There are many things that I learned and gained from creating this piece, as well as things that I hope will also mean something to listeners. The main one is: Don’t leave things unsaid with the people you love!!! Another huge part was creating the opportunity for my father that I reveal in the story. It was also a way to create an effigy of someone who was very important to my father. Preserving a piece of someone’s history allows their spirit to live on in the world after their body is gone. Making this piece has been cathartic, and further strengthened my relationship with my father. Had it never seen the light of day, I’d still have had that reward. To then gain the support of people like those at Transom reminds me that I’m on the right track, and that following my creative intuition will continue to be rewarding in numerous ways. I’m excited to tell more stories.

Gear And More

Other than the final narration, the majority of this piece, including the ambient music, was written, engineered, and recorded at my home studio (Shabby Road) located in the beautiful Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. Here are some of the select pieces of equipment that I used to create this piece:

DAW (digital audio workstation). a.k.a. audio editing software- Ableton Live. I’ve been using the amazing Ableton Live software for all my digital audio needs and creative processes.

Interfaces + AD/DA conversion. For my input interface I use a 32-channel digital board from Berhringer called the X32. The functionality, and quickly changeable configuration of a digital board has proven invaluable for maintaining a fast workflow while juggling the many different projects I’m involved with in my home studio. For my output interface, which I use for creating headphone and main monitor mixes, as well as re-amping, I used a MOTU 896 Mk3.

Mic Preamp. For all of the recordings (including my father and I talking together in the same room, my rough initial narration, and all the synthesized music) I used a Universal Audio LA – 610 preamp/compressor to get a nice warm signal.

Microphones. For the in-room interviews as well as my rough narration, I used an MXL 990 condenser mic. To create the telephone effect, I used a vintage Shure Green Bullet harmonica microphone. The natural characteristics of this microphone were a great fit to help create an easily identifiable phone call style sound. I didn’t use any field recordings for this piece, but I plan on using a Zoom H5 for that application in the future.

Synthesizers. I am a synthesizer fanatic, and a huge part of the fun in creating this piece was writing the original music. I used two main keyboards, a Moog Sub 37 paraphonic synthesizer, and a mid-1980s Roland JX–8P polyphonic synthesizer.

Plug-ins. A variety of plug-ins were used for audio normalization which include the PSP vintage warmer, the PSP mixpressor, A Sonnox reverb plug-in which emulates a classic Lexicon reverb unit, and the Dorrough audio meter from the Waves collection.

Special Thanks

Special thanks to The Transom team, Rob Sachs, Rick Tiven, and Good Friend Coyote.

*Note: the photo at the top of the post is of Rick, Pete and little Jules.

Jules Jenssen

About
Jules Jenssen

Jules Jenssen is a drummer, music producer, event coordinator/production manager, synthesizer geek, amateur video editor, and hack comedian who never writes down his best jokes. Raised in the beautiful rolling hills of western Massachusetts, Jules grew up as the son of a professional musician (father) and a professional chef/visual artist (mother). His father brought him along for countless shows and performances at a music nightclub which his father ran. Jules was an avid actor as an early teen, as well as creator of several hilarious (and hilariously bad) home movies. Jules has played over 1000 live shows throughout the US over the last nine years with numerous bands. He was also a co-executive producer of the Big Up music festival from 2010 to 2013. His current band is Ross Jenssen, a power trio which creates what they call "Heavy Future Groove."

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  • Alice Lahnstein

    3.14.17

    Reply

    Jules,

    This is wonderful. Even if I didn’t know and love you all I’d be captivated.

    Alice (Dahlia’s mother)

    • Jules Jenssen

      3.22.17

      Reply

      Thank you, Alice! That’s what I would hope for the piece.

  • Judith

    3.15.17

    Reply

    Beautiful, Jules. Beautiful.

    • Jules Jenssen

      3.22.17

      Reply

      Thanks for listening, Judith!

  • Laura

    3.17.17

    Reply

    Jules, this is such a powerful and beautiful story, very well told. Please tell more stories!

    • Jules Jenssen

      3.22.17

      Reply

      Thanks, Laura! Compiling ideas for the next piece currently.

  • Paul Marcel

    3.19.17

    Reply

    Your talents have always amazed me

    • Jules Jenssen

      3.22.17

      Reply

      Thank you so much, Paul!

  • Swati Singh

    3.21.17

    Reply

    This was so touching and relatable. My dad is a man of a bygone era as well, and this story is so inspiring. I hope to use it as a model in my own storytelling.

    Thank you Jules

    • Jules Jenssen

      3.22.17

      Reply

      Thank you so much, Swati! My dad just got an iPhone!! It’s been…interesting to help him grasp the potential. Thanks for listening

  • Greg Spatz

    3.22.17

    Reply

    Thanks for sharing this story. Ricky was my fiddle teacher for several years way back in the 80’s, maybe some of the late 70’s. I always wondered why he was so hot and cold. And when I moved on, stopped taking lessons, it never made sense to me how he just kind of cut me out of his life. This piece goes a long way toward explaining some of it.

    I’d say too that working with Ricky, even though he was a pretty unstructured teacher and we had way too much fun horsing around, I probably learned more from him just in terms of tone and musicality than I learned from any other fiddle player. We did a bunch of shows together too here and there as I got older. And still, to this day, I keep an old Polaroid picture of the two of us on the porch at the Berkshire golf club, playing fiddles. I’ve moved it from case to case over the years, like an anchor or talisman. Still have it there now.

    Please give him my best regards.

    • Jules Jenssen

      3.23.17

      Reply

      Wow Greg! Thank you for sharing that touching and sad piece of history about Ricky. It hurts me to hear that he’s alienated other people who meant something to him, and him to them… However, hopefully this can help you understand that it’s not personal and very much comes from a place inside of him that he cannot always control. I will surely send him your regards. Perhaps you can send me your email and we could attempt to put you guys in contact. Thanks for listening, and thanks again for sharing a personal piece of your history w/ my dad. One question: where/how did you discover the piece and first listen to it? Thanks!

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