Over the next several weeks, NLogic will be posting summaries on our blog from audio business leaders, innovators, content producers and on-air talent that shared their compelling insights about all things 'audio' at hivio 2015. Keep an eye out for thoughts and opinions from Marilu Henner - Actor, Author, and Radio Host, Kirsten Wolf - VP Media Director at Starcom MediaVest Group, Dennis Clark - VP Talent Development for iHeartMedia, and Brian Benedik - VP/North America Advertising at Spotify just to name a few.
Today's blog describes how hivio's co-creator Mark Ramsey launched the festivities setting the tone for what is billed as the first-ever audio future festival.
The room at the famous Hollywood Improv Comedy Club went dark followed by sound effects bellowing from the speakers. The voice-over began talking over the audio clips which set the mood for what was about to come—"from the smallest" as the sound of a buzzing fly filled the air; "to the fiercest" as a lion's roar was heard throughout the venue; "from an intimate moment" as a baby's gurgle was projected through the speakers; "to riding the wave of a hundred thousand" as the roar of a stadium crowd dominated the physical space. The segment went on to demonstrate how feelings and emotions are associated with and triggered by aural cues touching on and stimulating many feelings across the emotional spectrum. "Every feeling, the struggle, the joy, all of it is at your command because we can feel it through our ears." And with that introduction host Mark Ramsey took to the iconic Improv stage to begin hivio 2015 – "the first and only un-conference built to spark innovation in the audio entertainment and information space." hivio is not a radio conference but an audio future festival embracing all forms of audio content across all technology platforms.
Not unlike many of the others before him such as Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Sarah Silverman and George Carlin, Mark jumped onto the stage captivating the audience by taking them through a story about audio. He talked about a tribe in Papua New Guinea that was never exposed to any other civilization until a boat arrived upon its shores. The tribe was concerned and lined up along the beach in full battle dress to 'welcome' the strangers' boat. Luckily the visitors came bearing gifts―one of them being a very strange wooden box with dials on it that the Chief had no idea what to make of. One of the visitors twisted a knob until 'audio' exploded out of the box. The natives were totally astounded at the sound of a man's voice emanating from the container, to which the Chief demanded to see the "tiny man" living in the box. This was the first time the locals had ever seen and heard a radio and to this day in their native language they refer to radio as "the box that cries". That is the "Power of Audio"!
Mark went on to elaborate on the strange and peculiar power audio has. Fundamentally, he believes the power of audio makes us feel something and if it doesn't, then it's just noise. Audio has the power to bring back memories, entertain, educate, inform, change our mood and connect us with others across time and space. Through several audio clips, he went on to substantiate his premise that audio does indeed invoke emotional reactions ranging from the recognizable bass notes from Seinfeld's theme song to a baby crying.
The power of audio is the power of a story well told. The power of audio is the ability to help win a war citing how the US Army in WWII deceived the German military in thinking battles where taking place where they weren't―later known as the ghost army. Mark went on to reference how sounds can be used to "rope in the senses, spark memories, tell rich stories and elicit feelings" from Joel Beckerman and Tyler Gray's book The Sonic Boom: How Sound Transforms the Way We Think, Feel, and Buy. The book goes on to talk about how the 'sizzle' allowed Chili's to own the audio cue by perfecting the theatre of it. Furthermore, Mark used other audio clips as examples that provoked reactions as he played the two notes from Jaws and reminded us that one summer it scared the entire nation into not swimming in the ocean. The horror in horror movies come from the ears, not from the eyes. He used a fake trailer from the movie The Hangover that was produced as part of a university dissertation testing to see whether post-production could really affect a film's genre. It did—the movie looked like it was a horror film.
Mark reminded us that the power of audio isn't always in the sound but in the spaces between the sounds. He used the example of the original War of the Worlds broadcast where Orson Wells skillfully orchestrated six seconds of dead air that helped evoke fear throughout an entire nation and that the power of audio isn't always the sound but what is said. He used a segment from Dave Ramsey's syndicated radio show on how the host drew out of a listener that she was a victim of domestic abuse and convinced her to leave her boyfriend and seek refuge in a woman's shelter. The story didn't end there as listeners began calling the show to share their similar stories.
And that is the "Power of Audio"!