I was listening to Bodies the other day and I nearly drove off the road in anger.
The episode was called “Bleeding.” A woman was telling a personal story about her body — in this case about her first period — and then, practically out of nowhere, in came a promo for another podcast. Only, it didn’t just slide into the show effortlessly; it landed like a ton of bricks dropped from thirty-thousand feet. BOOM. The gentle, thoughtful mood the show established was completely destroyed. I looked at my car radio and yelled, “What the HELL was that??!”
I highly recommend Bodies. It’s produced by Allison Behringer for KCRW’s Independent Producer Project. Each show features a different woman relating a story about her body — periods, facial hair, pain during sex, and more. They’re well produced, and intimate. Tender and private sounding.
But, beware of the spots. They pop the audio bubble Allison delicately creates. In fact, the mid-rolls I’ve heard are so tone deaf, I wish there weren’t any. Some podcasts should not be interrupted, and certainly not interrupted with something so jarring. (I play an example on this HowSound so you can hear what what I’m talking about.)
And, look, this isn’t just a KCRW thing. I hear this kind of audio car crash all the time. ALL the time. It’s a radio crime.
Am I overstating this? Maybe. But, in defense of my ears, I feel a need to say something. And, I’ve been feeling that a bit more lately — a need to offer criticism of the audio storytelling medium.
Frankly, I haven’t done it much. I mostly stick to shining a light on examples of clever, creative, and inspiring work. But, I hope you’ll take a listen to this episode and tell me if the criticism seems fair. Of course, I couldn’t jump ship entirely — I also feature clips of work I admire from “Container Ship Karaoke” produced by BBC 3, and Nathanial Mann, as well as a gem from No Feeling Is Final by the ABC, and Honor Eastly.
One more thing: I’ve been producing more episodes without interviews with producers, opting instead for short commentary and excerpts from podcasts and radio stories. Are those helpful? A good listen?
Note: The featured image at the top of this post comes from Britt Reints.