From the Archive: Creating SFX

Editor's note: "From AIR's Archive" brings forward some of the lost (or long-buried) profiles and advice about audiocraft that we've collected over the years. This advice about creating audio special effects was first offered in 2006. 

by Jerry Stearns

Sound conveys meaning. Sound stimulates visual images in our minds. Radio theater/ audio theater is telling a story by the careful mixing of sounds - both verbal and non-verbal. Radio is a hot medium, that is, the listener's imagination and experience are involved in giving the story depth, substance and meaning.

Sound effects can be used for such things as setting and place, conveying action, solving certain narrative problems, and evoking characterizations.

In radio theater we have four objects to work with:

Public Media Scan: Fun (but important)

The Public Media Scan is a weekly (Thursdays!) dose of tech, journalism, amazing media craftsmanship and, with any luck, it's also a starting gun that will set your mind racing over the possibilities of our field.

This week, a few projects came forward for their blend of serious purpose and beguiling presentation. It's a hard balance to strike -- as we are reminded in the third item in the Scan this week, Edward R. Murrow's "lights and wires" speech to the RTNDA:

Indie Economics


By Jason deBruyn

Sally Herships took her first radio internship at the age of 30.

Herships pitched and pitched, and began picking up work after her internship at "Radiolab," eventually producing segments for the BBC World Service and “Studio 360.”

Eleven years after she began, Herships hosts public radio parties at her apartment in Brooklyn (complete with a vintage sound booth named Ermentrude), is a regular contributor with “Marketplace," and teaches writing for radio.