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Episode 1 transcript

Welcome to the first episode of Audio Rhetorics. Before we dive into today’s episode, let me tell you a little bit about myself and what this podcast is all about.

I’m a Ph.D candidate in English at the University of Florida where I am specializing in writing and digital rhetoric. My research focuses on the impact of mobile computing technologies on writing and communication. Part of my research focuses on the emergence of new genres and media of mobile writing, such as augmented reality, location-based audio tours, and podcasting. I have been teaching courses in composition, technical writing, and digital media production for the past five years.
For today’s episode, I thought I would talk a little bit about the title for this podcast: “audio rhetorics.” More than likely, most of you are familiar with the term “audio.” Generally, audio refers to any type of recorded, transmitted, or reproduced sound. Thus, unlike the word “sound,”which refers more generally to any phenomenon perceivable through the sense of hearing, the word “audio” refers more specifically to sounds that have been technologically mediated in some way.
From digital vocoders designed to modulate a singer’s pitch to punk rock bands trying to record their own albums, the speed and rate at which we can technological manipulate and circulate sound has increased exponentially over the last few decades.
But you probably already know what “audio” means. So...what is rhetoric?
According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, rhetoric meant “the ability to discern the available means of persuasion.” For Aristotle, rhetoric was a kind of speech art through which orators could develop the most effective means of persuading their audience to think or act in a certain way.
Consider this example: Let’s say you were asked to give a speech at a local high school. In preparing for your speech, you would probably make some assumptions about your audience and make adjustments to your speech based on these factors, such as where the students were from and what kind things they are interested in. In this sense, you would be acting rhetorically in that you took into account the “available means” within your situation and used them to persuade an audience to a particular action or way of thinking.
In contemporary academic contexts, “rhetoric” refers to a field inquiry dedicated to understanding how a variety of communication practices, including speeches, texts, artworks, films, and even podcasts, influence the thoughts, action, and feelings of different societies and cultures.
However, in today’s media-saturated world, the term “rhetoric” is more often used as an insult or disparaging remark.
Herman Cain: "This is pure rhetoric, to try to cover up [fade out]"
Barack Obama: "We have heard vulgar and divisive rhetoric [fade out]"
Hilary Clinton: "We know that a lot of the rhetoric that we've heard from Donald Trump [fade out]"
When used in this way, rhetoric becomes synonymous with manipulation of truth. It's a "plague upon language" that merely serves to obscure the essential facts and evidence that should be the sole focus of one’s argument.
However, this is a mischaracterization of rhetoric and its importance as a field of study. Rhetoric and rhetorical theory are essential tools for writers who seek to persuade, inform, explain, or inspire. Rhetoric is neither inherently good nor inherently evil; rather, it is a mechanism through which change is induced within the world. To pluralize rhetoric to “rhetorics,” then, is to recognize that there is no single methodology or edifice of knowledge through which such changes can be produced. Depending on where you live and when you were born, you persuade, inform, and explain things according to a unique, localized “rhetoric” that emerges within and through a community's’ discourse practices.
So, what then are “audio rhetorics?”
Audio rhetorics, which is the focus of this podcast, explores how technologies for producing, recording, and transmitting sound are being used to create entirely new forms of communication and genres of storytelling. Each episode of this podcast focuses on a particular aspect of recorded sound, from podcast introductions to audio effect tools, exploring how it is being used rhetorically, perhaps to tell a story or persuade an audience to a particular action or feeling.
As such, this podcast is created for people who are interested in how audio technologies are being used by writers, journalists, podcasters, and many others to craft engaging narratives that utilize the unique affordances of audio media.
In our interactions in daily life, we are constantly engaging with an array of aural media that seek to persuade us to take certain actions over others, whether to pick up a phone [texting sound], step onto an elevator [elevator ding], or read an email ["You've got mail!"}, audio rhetorics are all around us.
Thanks for listening. And subscribe for more episodes of Audio Rhetorics.

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