Listening to Stories Summary

I have never listened to a podcast before, but I enjoy scary movies so I chose to listen to an episode from the Spooked podcast. Even before the story began, it is made clear through background music and sound effects, besides the narrator just saying it, that you are listening to a horror podcast. Now onto the story itself. The story I chose to listen to was about a soldier, named Jerry, who was drafted for the Vietnam war. In this story he explains his experiences about his meeting with another soldier named Cummings, but these meetings weren’t your ordinary meetings. The story starts out by setting the scene of the military base he is waiting at to be assigned. His first interaction with Cummings is when he is walking to the general store from his barracks. They are walking on a gravel road and there is a sound effect of someone walking on gravel to give us the feeling as if we are actually there. This is where the story begins to get weird. The music playing during the walk is just your typical music that you might hear in an elevator, but when Jerry runs into Cummings on the way back from the general store, the music takes a more suspenseful turn, giving the feeling as if something is about to happen. During this first encounter, Jerry accidentally drops a lighter that Cummings threw to him, and as Jerry bends down to retrieve it, he gets pushed to the ground. He looks around to find Cummings, but no one is there. Jerry doesn’t know what happened and goes to bed. Another person speaks as the narrator for scene transitions, giving a quick summary of the things Jerry does that don’t pertain to the main story. The next encounter with Cummings is after he gets assigned. When he arrives at his assignment spot, he describes how the soldiers would sleep at night listening to the distant sounds of rockets and artillery where sounds effects are used again to help reinforce the description to make it feel more real. A little while after, Jerry sees Cummings again, and again the music changes tone. This time, Jerry follows Cummings out of a bunker where right after he gets outside, it is blown up. A loud “boom” is heard while Jerry describes how it happened. The story continues with Jerry explaining some more interactions with Cummings. Every time he mentions Cummings, he says his named in a surprised tone giving a sense of astonishment. Cummings is always wearing the same things, even when Jerry sees him at an airport in China 20 years later. Jerry never knew why he kept seeing Cummings right before a terrible thing would happen and always thought that Cummings was trying to kill him. After his sighting at the airport, he found out that the flight he was supposed to take instead of going home due to sickness, had crashed. Had he been on it, he would have died. Once he found this information out, he realized that Cummings was saving him, not trying to take him. Overall, I do think that audio is effective in telling stories to people. Audio is just like if you were telling your friend a story about an experience you had. Your friend wasn’t there with you so you have to give them details so that they can better understand what happened. However, audio recordings have a leg up on oral stories because they can include sound effects which can help immerse the listener. In order for audio to be the most effective, you need to have a speaker who is either enthusiastic about what they are telling or has actually experienced the story they are describing. Good music and sound effects that correspond to the story are also important because it gives the listener a way to feel as if they are actually there. So yes, I do think that audio is an effective way to tell stories.

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