Why audio storytelling is so compelling

Professor Rob Quicke

On Wednesday, I listened to what I could easily consider the most chilling piece of audio I’ve heard—and I didn’t even hear the whole thing.

The audio was courtesy of Rob Quicke, who our class had the pleasure of Skyping with last week.

By the end of the four minute excerpt of Jennifer Bishop Jenkins (who talked about her sister’s murder), I found myself surprised at the stinging pressure in my eyes.

Four minutes and I was almost crying. I can’t imagine listening to the whole thing. (Though, my curiosity can’t be quelled and I’m definitely procrastinating on writing this by obsessively googling it.)

But the thing is, I can’t imagine being as moved in another medium. It wouldn’t have been Jenkins’ words… her voice. Despite Jenkins detachedness, it was still intimate. It was still as if I could see her, sorting through the memories of her sister and what she knew of her last moments.

“More than any other medium,” Quicke said, “radio is an intimate medium.”

I didn’t really understand that until the other day. I didn’t realize how much a single, lone voice affects you — how much the lack of words artfully stacked together on a page, or a television reporter spewing from a teleprompter can make a difference.

“You don’t need the tricks, the story is more than enough to keep you in,” Quicke said.

Yes, yes it is.

So I challenge you to let the stories be intoxicating on their own. Let people tell their stories. Show them in their authentic light, show them in their reality.

Get out of your own head and be interested in other people’s stories.

Why bother? you might ask.

Because everyone has a story to tell, it’s not limited the people you haven’t met yet. There are stories about the people you know and love that you don’t know—there are so many secrets, memories and feelings people don’t share with anyone.

And as journalists it’s our job to tell them all—as best, fair, accurate and authentically as we can.

And as Quicke said in his parting words:

“Tell them as authentically as possible, and do not insert yourself to (the story’s) detriment.”