Set the Wayback Machine for 1914

Listen to “Set the Wayback Machine for 1914”

The idea is ridiculously simple. Make Kurt Andersen sound like he’s hosting Studio 360 in 1914. Carrying out the idea? Not so simple.]

In June, Studio 360 rolled back the clock for an hour of arts and culture stories from a hundred years ago. David Krasnow, the program’s senior editor, says when he looked at the major cultural events of 1914, he noticed several major pop culture trends of the 20th century started that year.

“Animation was, sort of, arguably born in 1914,” David said. “The blues for the first time becomes a really big national thing… Charlie Chaplin invents this tramp character and really at that point becomes the first movie star…

“We kind of put all those things together and said what if we did a show that was about all the exciting stuff that was happening in culture — which is what we do on a week- to-week basis on Studio 360 — and said what if that show was actually being made in 1914 and we were reporting on those things as though they were happening at that moment.”

They accomplished that conceit, primarily, by altering the sound of Kurt Andersen’s narration. And, it’s quite an accomplishment.

On this edition of HowSound, the staff at Studio 360 walks us through the metamorphosis of Kurt’s voice. Senior Broadcast Engineer John DeLore dissects the production process including the use a cone from an Edison Standard Phonograph. David talks about writing in the diction of 1914. And, Kurt describes narrating in a stilted and formal voice.

Beware. After listening to this episode, I predict you’ll imitate Kurt at random moments throughout the day much to the annoyance of your family and friends.

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