Creating an Aural Narrative
"The past is only the present become invisible and mute;
and because it is invisible and mute its memories, glances and its murmurs are infinitely precious.
We are tomorrow's past."
-- Mary Webb
You’ve been listening to a collection of interviews with ordinary people on the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The cover page for the After the Day of Infamy archive claims the following about the recordings contained in the collection.They feature a wide diversity of opinion concerning the war and other social and political issues of the day, such as racial prejudice and labor disputes. The result is a portrait of everyday life in America as the United States entered World War II.Assuming that this is true, we want you to organize and edit that information in a format that will be useful.
Here's your assignment:
You’ve been given a half-hour on National Public Radio to broadcast a program about the reactions of the “(wo)man-on-the street” to the Day of Infamy. Now you need to put together a “script” or “audio story-board” that presents this information in an organized, revealing, useful, and listener-friendly format.
Start with the big picture:
- What is it that these voices can tell your audience?
- What lessons can be learned by tuning into your broadcast?
- What is contained in these responses that the listener will find intriguing and informative?
- How will your half-hour program enrich the life of your audience?
Nuts and Bolts
- Building any narrative requires a plan.
- By now you should have noted several patterns or themes contained in the aural archive we’ve been examining.
- Your goal is to organize these patterns or themes in a way that is logical, educational, and user-friendly.
- You only have a half an hour of airtime, and many of these interviews are lengthy, exceeding fourteen minutes in some cases.
- So you have to be selective: edit the tapes down to a practical and logical size; select only the parts of any interview you want to use.
- Cut and paste the clips you will use from the transcript and insert them in your final project.
- Most narratives have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
- What will your program start with?
- How will you organize your clips?
- How many clips are logistically possible for your program.
- Perhaps it would be wise to think of your program as having chapters or segments.
- In what order will these chapters or segments appear?
- How can you weave these interviews (or portions of interviews) together in a manner that both adheres to the time restrictions and appeals to and informs the audience?
- You’ll obviously need to supply passages that connect and organize the sound clips you use.
- Again, be as creative and user-friendly as possible.
- Your program should have a title. Here’s your chance to be extra-creative. You could come up with a generic title like “The Day of Infamy: Man-on-the Street Interviews.” But why not show a little media-savvy and give us a title that “sings.”
Each script should include:
- A title: preferably something “ear-catching”
- A chronology: break your program down into sections that are timed.
- You know approximately how long each of the interviews you’ll be using is
- and you can guesstimate how much time each of the written passages connecting the interviews will take up
Be sure to write out in complete sentences the passages that connect your interviews.
- Give us a written breakdown: it would make sense to give each section a title and provide the amount of airtime required in parentheses next to the title
- This program is a narrative, a story, and it can take many shapes.
- You decide the type of rhetoric and the format you feel will be most appealing and appropriate for this material.
- It might be a good idea to listen to a radio program on NPR or one of the news networks that features such programming to get a general idea of how these things are constructed.
- Or watch something on the History Channel to see how they do it.
Here's an example of how a portion of the radio script might look:
Title: Bombs Away: Verbal Ordinance in the Days Following the Attack on Pearl HarborAgain, your script or "audio story-board" can take many forms. But all of you should strive to create a program that is focused, lucid, and listener friendly.
(0:00 - 1:30)
The program begins with a clip from FDR"s Address to Congress on the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed.
"Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack."
(1:30 - 2:30)
You've just been listening to an excerpt from President Roosevelt's "Day of Infamy" speech that chronicles FDR"s reaction to the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. This program will amend that response by showing how ordinary Americans reacted to the attack in a series of recordings made by the Library of Congress in the days and months that followed. You'll hear what was foremost in the minds of the man and women on the street as the United States entered World War II.
(2:30 - 4:30)
The vast majority of Americans rallied around the president and voiced a willingness to fight for and sacrifice the American way of life. Their comments exuded patriotism, commitment, and solidarity.
Clip 1: Man-on-the-Street" Interview (Austin, Texas, December 9, 1941)
John Henry Faulk: Well what do you think about this war? Are you for it or against it?
Mrs. Jirosik: Well, I'm for it.
John Henry Faulk: You're ready to see him go, huh?
Mrs. Jirosik: They've got to fight.
John Henry Faulk: Why, why do you think they have to fight?
Mrs. Jirosik: Well, they've been attacked so they've got to fight.
John Henry Faulk: You are behind the war effort, in other words.
Mrs. Jirosik: Yes.
John Henry Faulk: One hundred percent behind Mr. Roosevelt?
Clip 2: "Man-on-the-Street" Interview (Madison, Wisconsin, December 9, 1941)
Business School Director: The battles of the next few years will be a turning point in our history for they will be our Armageddon wherein we will fight for tolerance, equality, freedom for all mankind as well as for ourselves.
Clip 3: "Man-on-the-Street" Interview (New York, December 9, 1941)
Richard Kwan: I think all the people of the United States should be behind the president because his speech was an excellent performance of his duty towards the people of this state. And I assure you that every working man will be behind the president in his hour of need.
But there were also voices of dissent and concerns about the military's lack of preparedness for the attack
Clip 4: "Man-on-the-Street" Interview (Nashville, Tennessee, December 9, 1941)
Mr. Walter Hadley: It is my opinion that the United States should have been aware of these sudden Axis power attacks due to the current development at that time. I think that the United States Army officers responsible should be ordered up for an investigation since the damage was so great as a result of the Japanese attack
We want to give you an opportunity to work in groups for this project. Anyone interested in throwing in with one or more of your classmates should contact me by e-mail and make me an offer I can’t refuse. Several of you have followed and commented on similar threads in the archive, so perhaps you can review old posts to see who might be a logical choice to work with.
WARNING: Group Work is tricky enough in a face-to-face environment, and online it poses even greater difficulties. But it can be done provided you have a plan and you select group members you are confident you can work with. After three weeks in the course, you should have some sense of this.
On the last day of this unit you should submit your completed script to the discussion board. Since your scripts might be longer than the space Blackboard allows for a discussion board post, I suggest that you do your script as a Word document and attach it to a post.
"Nothing changes more constantly than the past; for the past that influences our lives does not consist of what happened, but of what men believe happened."-- Gerald W. Johnston