Intro from Jay Allison: This piece was produced as part of the Transom Story Workshop Spring 2015 session. Listen to more pieces from this Story Workshop class here.
About “I Want To Believe”
In quantum mechanics, they say that the act of observing something changes the way it behaves. That even by watching — passively — you’re influencing how things turn out.
At first, I just wanted to make sure my dad’s wild alien abduction story was remembered, as an oral history of sorts. It wasn’t even supposed to be radio. But by recording my dad telling his story, I began to influence it — it started to matter if I believed him. And the story started to change, taking on a life of its own.
Following that thread opened up the story from something that happened in the past, to something that was still unfolding. This concept of “active tape” was stressed in class over and over as a way to give life and interest to our stories. But it can be kind of hard, at first, to wrap your head around how to get that sort of tape from something that’s already happened. Luckily, my whole family was up for hashing out what this event in the past meant to us, and it turned out that we were surprised — even shocked — by revealing what we were feeling. That gave an interesting reason to be listening, in the present. All of a sudden, there was something at stake.
I was also surprised by how open my family was, even with the microphone on. It was a little awkward at first, but before long we were talking to each other like it wasn’t even there. What I realized is that talking to your family on mic is great practice for interviewing others. You already know how to talk to them — you know the way you interact — so it’s immediately apparent if you’re not being “real” when the mic is on. When I heard myself talking to my family instead of reading narration, it was a moment of realization: “Oh, that’s what you sound like! That’s how you’re supposed to talk. Stop trying to sound like an echo of Alex Blumberg!”
In the end, tackling a piece like this was great for getting first-hand experience with a lot of different story components — turning an old story into active tape, having folks comment on each others’ ideas, and even finding something emotional in it. I know that a lot of times, new radio producers are steered away from making something too personal, but I’m glad that Transom let me to chase this one down and finally produce it.
Kolin’s Sonic ID
This was one of those serendipitous moments. I walked out of the house looking to ask folks about Cape Cod’s tick problems, and immediately spotted a mom, her young son, and a dog. Basically, a perfect trifecta for tick stories. Her son — this tiny, tiny child — somehow knew that deer ticks are the small ones, they can give you lyme disease, and you have to be very careful. He even had one on his back before, and took revenge on it in quite an unusual way.