Audio storytelling: unlocking the power of audio to inform, empower and connect.
Audio storytelling is booming. From crafted long-form documentaries to short digital narratives, podcasting, social media and online streaming have liberated audio from the confines of a live radio schedule and created huge new transnational audiences. But how can the burgeoning influence of audio storytelling be harnessed in educational and community sectors? Evidence provided in the United Nations Creative Economy Report 2013 suggests that it can be a tool of sustainable development and social inclusion. This paper examines an initiative designed to advance the use of audio storytelling in educational contexts: the Emotional History project, an intensive teaching model that trains undergraduate students with no prior audio experience to create powerful short audio stories in a 4 x 3 hour module. It relies on the capacity of audio to convey emotion, and the power of emotion to transcend social, cultural and racial difference and forge a visceral connection. By gathering deeply personal emotional moments, students not only have a heightened incentive to learn technical production skills, they are also motivated to consider ethical issues and vital principles of empathy and responsibility.