Saturday, August 22, 2015

Storytelling: A Disappointing Tale

Out on the Wire – The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio – Jessica Abel (Broadway Books)

I have made a career out of being a storyteller in one way or another. I spent nearly 25 years with a microphone in front of me, so I was particularly interested in delving into Out on the Wire – The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio by Jessica Abel.

Growing up I spent more than a few hours carefully spinning the dial in an effort to tune in some far away 50,000 watt, clear channel (the radio signal, not the behemoth radio broadcast group) blow torch station that would carry old time radio theater shows. Later my program directors would talk about creating “theater of the mind” where listeners would conjure images in their mind based on the words you used to convey the story you were telling.

I could totally relate when Abel called the style of radio she focused on in the book, “narrative radio.” While I admit to not spending time getting the details about the book, I was a bit surprised to learn that the story was told in the form of a graphic novel or comic book. Coming from my background, I am a believer that words mean something; so I disagree with the subtitle identifying the folks the book is based on as the “new masters of radio.” Only a few of the folks profiled here actually work in radio. Sorry but, podcasting ain’t radio.
While the book does detail some of the individual processes that these storytellers use, I’m not sure that it reaches the point of delivering the how to alluded to in the title. I found the comic style delivery a bit hard to follow and in the end was a little disappointed with the results. It amounts to a very small amount of narrative and would likely to have struggled to reach book length without the drawings.

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