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.