Call Collect audio hack

A summary of our Come and Play audio hackathon project.

This past weekend I participated in the Come and Play audio hackathon here in San Francisco. I had the opportunity to meet a lot of wonderful people involved in all aspects of audio, from recording, producing, and editing, to developers who make tools for audio production and listening.

My hackathon team consisted of Alec Glassford, a Stanford student studying Computer Science and Journalism, Claire Mullen, an audio engineering and sound design at Reveal, Brandon Grugle, sound designer at Spoke, and Sonia Paul, an independent journalist, radio producer, and editor.

We brainstormed several ideas but kept coming back to wanting to create a way for listeners to better engage with audio creators.

Brainstorming ideas, creating a script for the audio, and our team at work.

Collecting audio samples from a wide group of people or directly from your audience is difficult, time-consuming, and costly. It’s difficult for smaller radio stations or indie podcast producers to find the resources to get all the outside audio they need for their shows. It’s also tough to get feedback from the audience on a story.

We wanted to build a tool to make it easy for listeners to submit their own audio based on questions or prompts from the host. So we created Call Collect, an easy tool for creating a phone number where audience members can simply call in on their phone.

Try calling in to our sample Call Collect: (415) 212–4050

It was super quick and easy to use Twilio to set up the phone service. You can check out the code on GitHub.

What could Call Collect be used for?

  • Crowdsource stories and ideas for future shows
  • Gather audience reactions and feedback
  • Create mash-ups of multiple characters/narrators
  • Gather sound on a topic from multiple locations
  • Actor voiceovers in your audio drama
  • Pre-interviews and interviews
  • Gather sound effects

We asked other hackathon participants to call in and we compiled the audio we recorded into a final podcast:

At the end of the hackathon, we presented Call Collect and saw many other amazing projects including an app to add a director’s cut and audio commentary for podcasts, a way to add sound emoticons to audio (“aw”, “ha ha!”), and several better ways to preview podcasts.

The Come and Play audio hackathon was an incredible experience. I had the opportunity to learn more about the challenges in creating audio and think a lot about how to make the audio ecosystem better for everyone.

— Leah, Breaker cofounder and CTO

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