Podcast Assignment Introduction

In class

Introduce the podcast assignment

Discuss McKee and the four elements of sound

sound elements to discuss

When we listen to a piece of produced audio, several layers of discourse to occur simultaneously to form one “seamless” message. But like any rhetorical message (and I think sound is usually produced to create some kind of response–therefore qualifying as rhetoric), what is intended to be communicated and what actually gets taken up by an audience doesn’t always match.

Because sound does not rely on visual cues, there can be some play with how different sounds get represented.

See the War of the Worlds.

Fred Newman from Prairie Home Companion:

Also, since an audio production is usually the sum of it’s parts, those pieces can be pulled apart and reassembled (and mashed together with other parts) to create something completely new.

Black Mirror–Arcade Fire


How many different pieces of discourse are being used to create this Girl Talk mash-up?

Here is a cool visual break-down of each song used by the artist to create this “new” audio artifact.

Knowing how to use audio when we compose in the variety of new media environments has become an important part of participating in and creating modern discourse.

Podcasts are less about pulling apart and more about cohesive messages, but learning how to compose audio is going to give us the tools to play with when we start messing around with audio in the ways mentioned above.


  • listen to an episode of This American Life from the archive
  • create a project page on your blog called “Podcast”
  • using McKee, Heidi. “Sound matters: Notes toward the analysis and design of sound in multimodal webtexts,” analyze the episode of This American Life that you selected according to how it uses the 4 elements that McKee lays out. Post this analysis to your “Podcast” project page.



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