Tag Archives: voices

SoundCloud SoundCloud Voices

Storytelling With Social Audio: How AIR Cultivates New Media Life Forms

By AIR Media Strategist Jessica Clark

Last night, San Francisco makers and hackers packed SoundCloud’s SF office to the gills for the Making Of…Zeega event. Co-organized by veteran audio producers The Kitchen Sisters, Zeega, AIR and KQED, the event marked the launch of The Making Of…Studio: a digital sandbox for users to experiment with the Zeega platform, and share their strange and beautiful creations.

BA3TUpDCcAA__OB (1) (Photo by Manolo Espinosa)

After learning how to mash social audio, animated gifs and text up into their own Zeegas, the crowd got straight to work. See what they made by clicking through this “audiogif“—a collaborative, immersive work of poetry.

Hacking Storytelling One Station at a Time
The Kitchen Sisters—Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva—are spearheading The Making Of… at KQED for AIR’s Localore production. Across the country, the 10 Localore teams are forging new forms of collaborative production with their communities, and in the process revealing the potential of social audio.

A national initiative with principal support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Localore aims to expand public stations’ capacity to innovate and sink taproots more deeply into their communities. Last fall, AIR held a competition for both stations and producers to step up to this challenge, and then matched up the 10 producer-station teams to invent new forms of journalism and storytelling that expand public media to all Americans.

The teams hit the ground running in the spring. Localore’s motto is “go outside”—i.e., outside of station walls, outside of traditional broadcast formats, and out into the streets to bring “full-spectrum public media” directly to community members who might not always hear themselves on the air.

The initiative reflect’s AIR’s larger goals: to identify, cultivate and deploy talented producers to solve conundrums posed by rapid transformations in the media landscape. Nearly 1000 members strong, AIR is a creative braintrust of makers who tell stories with sound, and increasingly are moving into cross-platform creation. The core Zeega team—Kara Oehler, Jesse Shapins and James Burns—developed the guts of their platform during an earlier AIR challenge, Makers Quest 2.0.

Now, Zeega is integral to the Localore production, partnering with eight of the 10 projects to craft cutting-edge immersive documentaries such as the recently launched Rough Ride, an eye-popping interactive expedition through the North Dakota oil boom led by Localore producer Todd Melby.

The teams are working not only with Zeega, but with other innovative platforms—including SoundCloud, Cowbird, and ThingLink—that allow users to become documentarians of their own lives. And they’re reimagining the relationship between producer, station and audience.

Here’s how:

Enable Audiences to Co-Create

AMM map screen

In Austin, Localore producer Delaney Hall has launched the Austin Music Map (AMM) with KUT and Zeega, to explore the city’s hidden music spaces in tandem with performers and fans. In December, the AMM team invited listeners to share the the sounds of their city, and then gave some of Austin’s best musicians two weeks to transform them into original compositions.

The full collection, titled Austin Remixed, will be released at AMM’s February music festival, MapJam 2013. But here’s a teaser:

Collaborative production is also central to AIR’s Ed Zed Omega (EZO) project, which invited users to help craft “authentic fiction” by interacting online and in person with fictional students who asked “what is education for?” Produced by game designer Ken Eklund at Minnesota station TPT, EZO ran over the course of the 2012 fall semester. Find out what happened.

Embedding Where the Action Is

On Sunday, 60 men from Esquipulas, Guatemala gathered at the Santa Cecila Church in South L.A. Armed with dyed sawdust, stencils and small colanders, they crafted the alfombras—”rugs” that worshippers carrying the Cristo Negro (Black Christ) would step upon on their way out of the church. Sonic Trace reporters were there to capture the procession:

The feast of the Black Christ is only one of the myriad religious celebrations by Central and South American communities that the Sonic Trace team is documenting. Led by Localore producer Anayansi Diaz-Cortes at KCRW, the team has embedded their portable sound booth, La Burbuja (the bubble), at Santa Cecila to record the stories of those attending Sunday mass.

The team and Zeega are hard at work on an immersive site that will launch in the coming weeks to track La Burbuja’s movements around L.A., and feature a rich array of photos, videos and radio pieces exploring links between local immigrants and their communities of origin.

The church is La Burbuja’s second location. The booth was previously installed at Oaxacan restaurant Guelaguetza—the site of the Sonic Trace launch party. Over the holidays, KCRW aired a series of sonic profiles based on interviews that the team conducted at Guelaguetza. Here’s Diaz-Cortes interviewing Paulina Lopez, whose family runs the restaurant:

AIR’s Hear Here project at Oakland-based station KALW has also built a novel sound booth to capture and share stories…but on a more local scale. Producers Erica Mu and Audrey Dilling aim to build connections across the Bay Area. Working with SoundCloud, they developed an interactive audio map of stories they’ve collected, out in the streets and at events hosted with libraries and other local cultural hotspots. Catch up with the project in this video, and submit your own story about a favorite spot here.

Enlisting Field Reporters
Localore teams are also working with community members to gather targeted observations—reframing them as citizen scientists, urban ethnographers and creative placemakers.

NEW accents viz

Producer Jennifer Brandel heads up a team of gung-ho gumshoes recruited from the WBEZ newsroom, who collaborate with listeners to investigate their burning questions about Chicago, In the fall, the team asked users to go one step further in helping to define what makes the city distinct. Reporter Annie Minoff worked with linguist Corrine McCarthy to devise a script that volunteers could read to demonstrate the traits of the Chicago accent. Listen to samples from the more than 350 Windy City residents who participated, and see what they learned.

In Paonia, Colorado, the weather rules the livelihoods and leisure of local ranchers, farmers and recreationists. But are climate shifts disrupting the region? Localore producer Julia Kumari Drapkin set out to explore that question in dialogue with both the community and scientists through her project, iSeeChange. The result? An interactive almanac that encourages users to record shifts in the weather, and pairs their field observations with long-range climate data and stories aired on incubator station KVNF. This week marks the soft launch of TheAlmanac.org., which will go wide early next week at a launch party featuring NASA Goddard scientist Ben Cook.

In Boston, Planet Takeout producer Val Wang asked WGBH users to report back on their most telling Chinese restaurant experiences—see the Zeega-powered site to immerse yourself in the three restaurants she explored in depth. And in Dayton, award-winning filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar have pounded the pavement with station volunteers to uncover how locals are reinventing themselves in the recession-hit region.

Last week, their ReInvention Stories team launched a series of audio interviews that air on incubator station WYSO with corresponding video profiles. Watch the first, featuring founders of the Fifth Street Brewpub—a co-op pub that’s Ohio’s first and only the second in the nation. And stay tuned for the much-anticipated launch of the team’s immersive site.


Stay in the Loop
logo (1)

More new media lifeforms are sure to emerge as Localore evolves throughout the spring. AIR and Zeega will continue to launch related sites, and to track the lessons that producers, stations and innovation partners have learned over their year of experimentation.

Keep an eye on airmediaworks.org to stay current on the latest developments, or subscribe to AIR’s weekly public media scan to get up to speed on these and other cutting-edge makers who are transforming public media and storytelling. Also keep your eye open for a joint SoundCloud-AIR promotion, happening soon!

SoundCloud SoundCloud Voices

SoundCloud Voices is a weekly Community feature focusing on new spoken word creators found on SoundCloud. It might be a podcast, radio show, audio book, interview, audio messages, a poem, anything! Keep an eye out every Thursday for a new post.

With last week’s SoundCloud Inaugural Hack day 5 days us behind we thought the theme of SoundCloud Voices this week should be on hacking, tech and startups.  There are a number of podcasts that focus on these worlds for your listeners pleasure on SoundCloud, take a listen to the following and start following them!

Firstly we have the guys at Lifehacker, the site that curates tips, tricks and technology for better living in the digital age. Here’s their lastest podcast where they discuss reviving your old laptop, migrating Google data, using tablets as communal devices, and making grocery shopping suck a bit less.

Next up are the guys from Ars Technica who by happy coincidence talk about a certain form of hacking this week. Recently a hacker infiltrated Mat Honan’s (Senior Writer at Wired)) life, stole and deleted his data. This hack required a few steps in succession that exploited authentication methods used in popular services like Amazon, Google, Twitter and Apple’s iCloud service. Mat wrote about this act of vandalism against him, and he is still dealing with the effects of losing his information.  Mat Honan visits the Ars Technicast in this episode to talk in detail about the fallout after the theft and wiping (yes, they wiped his devices), and what should you do to protect your data.

Moving over to the start up world, take a listen to the hefty amount of podcasts coming from TWIStartups. Hosted by serial entrepreneur Jason Calacanis and a rotating group of guest experts, TWIStartups bring you a bi-weekly take on the best, worst, most outrageous and interesting startups and stories from the Web world. For example, take a listen to our very own CEO Alex was interviewed on the show.

And finally back to some good old fashioned, wholesome hacking. If you don’t know already, we recently had a hack weekend, aptly named WE Hack (Weekend Hack), this was an opportunity for members of the company to come together and spend Friday and Saturday hacking APIs, making new websites and apps and even hover crafts. Take a read of this previous blog post for more. One hack created was the Never Ending Story – basically start a story, record it with the SoundCloud mobile app and then pass it on for someone to continue the story. Here’s the result of some 30 odd SoundClouder employees ad libbing a tale.

If you are interested in trying out SoundCloud as a spoken word podcast platform, you can sign up for via this form. Successful candidates will be emailed with further details.

SoundCloud SoundCloud Voices

SoundCloud Voices is a weekly Community feature focusing on new spoken word creators found on SoundCloud. It might be a podcast, radio show, audio book, interview, audio messages, a poem, anything! Keep an eye out every Thursday for a new post.

Ahhh summer…the time to let all your worries slip away and allow the creative juices to flow freely! In the spirit of encouraging a creative summer (and fall!), we’re super excited to announce the second annual SoundCloud Fellowship program which we just announced this week!

We’re hoping to inspire and support original, inventive, imaginative projects of all types, so don’t let the summertime heat kill your motivation...check out the proposal process and submit your ideas!


For this week’s Voices post, we thought we’d take a look back at a few of last year’s fellowship projects to provide you with some inspiration…


United Sounds

We SoundClouders are proud to be part of a global community, and no project better exemplifies that than last year’s fellowship project by Alex Stiver, United Sounds. Alex collected recordings of community members reading The UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights in their native tongue. To date, the project has collected recordings of The Declaration in more than 50 languages! This project highlighted the power of voice and the passion for collaboration within the SoundCloud community!

Check out some of the recordings submitted to the project’s SoundCloud Group:


Sounds of My City

Another fantastic project was Katie Needs’ Sounds of My City, in which Katie mapped Toronto in sounds she collected while rediscovering her city! The project also harnessed her fans’ passion for audio and encouraged them to explore their neighborhoods and share the sounds they collected along the way.

The NYC Nomad

Ed Casabian, aka The NYC Nomad, chose to explore his city in a slightly different way. Ed lived in over 50 neighborhoods in New York City, finding a new place to stay every single week! Along the way, Ed sought out the most interesting person in the area for an interview. Ed not only used audio to document his experience, but also as a medium to engage the communities that were hosting him.

Here’s one of my favorite pieces from Ed’s project:

So, inspired yet? We hope so! Get at us with your awesome ideas ASAP!

Fellowship applications will be accepted until Wednesday, July 25.