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Audio Studio Collaborations with Graduate Students


Graduate students have been keen users of the Marriott Library’s Audio Studio. This blog post will describe a project from the student’s concept, to fruition, to promotion, to feedback, and lastly the follow-up.

Last December a graduate student in Environmental Humanities approached me with a project. One of her peers had heard me lecture about the resources of the Studios in the Faculty Center and she wanted guidance on how to proceed in her fellowship project: Real Life, Real Stories.

“My name is Kailey Luzbetak, and I’m a graduate student at the University of Utah. My fellowship for this year is spearheading a project called Real People, Real Stories. Chris, one of the PhD students who came up with the project, mentioned meeting you very briefly after a talk at the U and discussing potential recording support from the library in some capacity. We are looking for a bit of guidance/equipment specifically for recording audios of narratives related to air quality to be played at a symposium in February. We’d also like to potentially distribute the audio to local media if possible.”

Reaching out to me is the first step in the process. Once introductions happen, the next step is to showcase the Studio and engage in a dialog on what exactly the sound requirement will be. That gives me the flexibility to consult on how to go from concept to delivered sound product.

Kailey’s goal was to highlight the personal narratives dealing with the frustration that Utah citizens have with air quality that gets noticeably worse year after year. How there is a lot of talk about climate change but very little in the way of action to deal with the negative health and economic impacts of breathing polluted air.

“The premise of the Real People, Real Stories project itself is quite simple: year after year Utahans express concern regarding air pollution, and how political and economic gridlock prevents substantial action. By providing students, staff, and faculty a space to express their personal stories with variable air quality, we can hopefully inspire, motivate, and mobilize. Many other campaigns have seen success with the idea of applying a human face, whether intentionally or not.”

The game plan for the event worked like this:

University, Students and Staff submitted essays in a contest

  • Four winners, (two of the four were Marriott Library staff), were selected to read their personal narratives in the Audio Studio
  • I recorded and edited the Sound for the public event
  • Kailey took the edited .mp3s and loaded them on Ipads for the gathering showcasing Real Life, Real Stories in the Student Union
  • Attendees were able to view visual content on the Ipads with the option of listening to the stories via headphones in a true multi-media presentation

The feedback from the show was very positive. I received several comments, especially, how the stories added resonance to the iPad slideshow:

“Hi Robert, I just want to pass on a compliment I heard last night. The students who put together the “Real People, Real Stories” project were full of praise for the Marriott Library audio studio and your help in particular. One of the students said “It was like working with a celebrity” because she has listened to your radio show. The air quality stories you helped record were on display at the Global Change & Sustainability Center Research Symposium last night (Feb 2, 2016). The event had student research posters from across campus. The audio recordings were set up on a table with tablet computers and earphones for listening. During the two hour event there were people constantly listening. You should be sure to include your role in this project in your annual review. It’s great example of how the Audio Studio supports student success.”

The follow-up occurred when I was able to recommend how Kailey could get some of her stories submitted for radio promotion. I used my contact at local community radio Station, KRCL, for airtime on their public affairs program called Radioactive. The next step will take place this summer when I work with Kailey and her crew as they want to devise a podcast series devoted to student driven Environmental activism and awareness.

That is an example of how the Marriott Library’s Audio Studio is engaged in incorporating sound into curricular projects.

Robert J. Nelson
Audio Projects Librarian
Assistant Head AV Studios
Marriott Library
University of Utah

View the original article on the Creativity and Innovation Services Blog

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