Press play to listen to the audio as you read along.
J: Hello, I’m Julie Shapiro.
A: And I’m Audrey Mardavich.
[Light music begins in the background.]
J: And on behalf of Radiotopia from PRX, we are over the moon about collaborating with McSweeney’s on their first-ever audio issue.
A: We’re both long-time McSweeney’s fans, and we were instantly in when they invited Radiotopia to join forces for this issue.
J: It’s true—I have with me here [pages of a book shuffling] the very first issue of McSweeney’s from back in 1998, purchased from The Regulator bookstore in Durham, North Carolina. I had never seen anything like it.
[A springy beat sets in.]
J: McSweeney’s is all about trying something new: new writers, new forms, new ways to bind a book.
A: And Radiotopia’s kind of the same—supporting producers who are breaking new ground in audio, in both content and style.
J: We’re basically two peas in a pod... cast. And we felt an instant resonance with the theme of the issue: exploring the intersection of text, story, sound, and accessibility. We talk, read, and think about these things all the time.
A: Plus we got to work with some of our Radiotopia partners! [The beat pauses for a second and a light “Radiotopia” ID plays in the background.] Like Ian Chillag, from the podcast Everything is Alive, and Sharon Mashihi, creator of Appearances.
J: And some of our creative heroes: Claire Boyle, from McSweeney’s, and Andrew Leland, from the Organist podcast
A: And, we’ve read and listened to so much incredible work throughout this project.
J: Now being the audio people who we are, we want to share with you some of our favorite moments from McSweeney’s #64: The Audio Issue. Take a close listen, and see if you can find them in their natural habitat, throughout the issue.
A: Sort of like a Where’s Waldo, but for provocative, literary sound art.
[Music ends and a collage of unidentifiable sounds begins.]
“I think that this person is dancing on her hands.” [Something small and hard hitting something big and flexible. Repeated booming knocks.]
[A purring, distorted such that it has a sumptuous, reverberating roundness. It’s hypnotic, almost massaging the brain.]
[Layers of static, a high-pitched beeping like it’s trying to communicate a message. Fades into a softer static.]
[Echoey slaps keep the beat as Mozart plays. The slaps add a percussive accompaniment atop the music, giving it a swell of energy.]
[A single, peaceful tone rises from the silence.] “Close your eyes. Reach for the sugar. Can you find it in the dark?”
[A squeak toy.] [A man laughs, as if told a good joke.] “God, you’re a breath of fresh air, Piggy.” [Squeak.]
A: You are obviously in for a very special treat with this issue.
J: And as Claire mentions in her Letter from the Editor, do approach this experience headphones on.
A: And as always… happy listening.
J: And reading.
A: And sifting through the objects.
J: And musing at the artwork.
A: And listening... again.