A Day in the Life Audio Story: "Don't Tread on Me"
Passion is defined simply as “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something” by the Meriam-Webster online dictionary. However, anyone who has ever felt passionate about anything in his or her life—whether that passion is for music, athletics, or even sculpting corncob pipes—knows that a passion is so much more than just feeling strongly about something. A passion can be an intense motivator, a beacon of hope, or a cause that reaffirms a reason for living. A passion is something that is fostered through experience and nurtured through hard work and dedication. And sometimes, a passion is something that you would fight for and defend to your last breath.
But what happens when someone or something tries to discourage you from pursuing this passion? What would you do if the possibility of fulfilling your lifelong dream was suddenly no longer under your control?
This is exactly what my audio story is all about.
During the summer of 2013, a group of passionate soccer fans had gathered at Columbus Crew stadium to discuss an upcoming international match scheduled to occur in Columbus later that year. The supporter’s section was in disarray, led by inefficient leaders and distracted by group politics. Having had enough of the Nordecke supporters’ indecision, a small group of Columbus Crew SC supporters—an eclectic group of artists, designers and logistics-minded individuals—decided to take matters into their own hands. What they ultimately accomplished would change soccer support in America forever, but the road to glory was not an easy one.
As an avid Columbus Crew SC fan, I was inspired to tell the story of team Tifo Sweat to an audience who might not necessarily know about the culture of soccer supporters. I wanted to use this audio story to explain to my listeners the growth of soccer support in the United States. I also wanted to emphasize the integral role that a local group of Columbus fans played in redefining soccer as an American sport to be taken seriously.
In order to fulfill this purpose, I consciously made several rhetorical decisions. I wanted my audience to feel a connection to the story, so I knew that finding a first-person source, someone who had been a part of the creation of the USA vs. Mexico tifo, was of paramount importance. I found this first-hand account in Morgan Hughes, who was able to give wonderfully vivid descriptions of the tifo creation process in an interview that I conducted in the Denney Hall Digital Union recording lab.
Ultimately, I wanted to include as much information in my audio story as possible without overwhelming listeners who might not consider themselves “soccer fans.” I could have approached telling this story from a purely sports-related perspective; however, in an effort to have a deeper impact with more people, I decided to discuss the soccer supporter culture and tifo creation process as a story almost completely removed from the qualifying match itself. For example, instead of listing the entire starting lineup for each team and then describing each play in excruciating detail, I decided to focus on something that would interest even the least soccer-minded individual on the planet—the creation of one of the largest tifos in American soccer supporter history.
From a design perspective, I wanted to keep my audio story simple. I wanted Morgan’s story to speak for itself. I did not want to overuse sound effects or music, as I personally think that this detracts from the story being told. As a journalist, I enjoy learning and sharing others’ stories; however, I want to preserve the individual voices of my sources as much as possible. I saw my role in this story as a narrator, someone to guide the audience through Morgan’s story. Above all, I did not want to be the primary voice heard in this audio story. While my voice can be heard in the project, it is solely to transition from one part of Morgan’s tale to another. I think this choice protects the integrity of the story being told.
I was admittedly extremely particular in choosing music to incorporate into my audio story. I needed to choose music that was available for use through Creative Commons licensing, but also fit with the story being told. I ultimately chose music that is in general very minimalistic—light strumming on guitars, careful pings of xylophone keys, repetitive bass lines—as I think it enhances the quotes with some additional aural coloring, but does not overwhelm the voices.
When matching these songs with Morgan’s quotes, I made sure to avoid any melodies or sounds that obscured his voice or had a tone that greatly differed from what he was saying. For example, when Morgan discusses his beginnings as a Columbus Crew fan, I decided to use past-paced, electronic music to symbolize the excitement and hope felt by many of the original fans as they looked toward the endless possibilities that this new soccer team’s future held. In contrast, this same music would not be appropriate for the segment when Morgan discusses the tension-filled conference call with the American Outlaws executives. Indeed, I decidedly chose a slower, eerie-sounding melody to underscore team Tifo Sweat's skepticism toward the corporate leaders' self-serving intentions.
Throughout the creation of my audio story, I extensively used Audacity’s “envelope editing” tool. This allowed me to selectively choose which parts of the music to emphasize and which to use primarily as background sound. I appreciated this tool's ability to give me the control I needed to make subtle adjustments to the backing music tracks and to equalize pitch fluctuations in the voiceovers. I also employed the “fade in” and “fade out” audio effects and the “amplify” slider in order to give the story a smooth and polished sound.
While I will freely admit that the audio story ended up being much longer than I anticipated, I am overall pleased with the clips that I decided to include in the final version. I hope that the patterns of conflict, inspiration and resolution will encourage my listeners to pursue their passions, no matter how numerous or intimidating the roadblocks along the way may seem.
Works Cited (Added on October 14 because I had forgotten to paste it in on submission day)
Chris Zabriskie. “Air Hockey Saloon.” Freemusicarchive.org. 12 Sept. 2014. 11 Oct. 2014. CC-BY. goo.gl/Rd1rYn.
Chris Zabriskie. “Readers! Do you Read?” Freemusicarchive.org. 12 Sept. 2014. 11 Oct. 2014. CC-BY. goo.gl/Dmkd6C.
Circus Marcus. “Olashan.” Freemusicarchive.org. 1 Sept. 2013. 11 Oct. 2014. CC-BY-NC. goo.gl/wC3GmK.
Ergo Phizmiz. “Blues for Mongoose.” Freemusicarchive.org. 14 Aug. 2014. 11 Oct. 2014. CC-BY-NC-SA. goo.gl/hFvTP3.
Ergo Phizmiz. “Here Comes Trouble CLANG.” Freemusicarchive.org. 14 Aug. 2014. 11 Oct. 2014. CC-BY-NC-SA. goo.gl/eS10W3.
Mckinneysound. “Soccer Crowd (150 People) Cheer Clap Whistle.” Freesfx.co.uk. n.d. 11 Oct. 2014. Fair use, as dictated by
Mckinneysound. “Soccer Crowd (150 People) Sing/Chant.” Freesfx.co.uk. n.d. 11 Oct. 2014. Fair use, as dictated by
Morgan Hughes interview. Conducted by Amanda Etchison on October 2, 2014.
Voiceovers. Recorded by Amanda Etchison on October 10, 2014.