Project 2: Podcast Analysis

The podcast chosen was one called, “Shadowboxing.” This podcast was about the career of the “Boston Strong Boy,” John L. Sullivan, who was a heavyweight champion of gloved boxing. John was a Irish kid growing up in South Boston during the 1860’s. He was the first American athlete to win $1 million, fighting 195 times in 135 towns in 235 days. The podcast went through many facts like these about his life and career, in a short amount of time. This short time span allowed for short yet concise facts. The tone of the podcast was a quiet, sometimes sad and monotonous one. A man’s voice was speaking the whole time, with soft rock music in the background. His voice remained unchanged and this is where the podcast became monotonous at times. In Mckee’s “Sound Matters,” she comments that “Meaning is carried not solely by the verbal content but…also by the vocal qualities” (6). However, John Sullivan’s life story was interesting that it makes the listener want to continue listening to see what would happen next. Just talking wasn’t enough, there should’ve been pictures involved for a visual. For visual learners it’s preferred that media and images are present to help see a story someone is trying to tell. A viewer could’ve gotten a better image of what John Sullivan and  his life looked like. Pictures would’ve especially added to this podcast because we could see the differences in the times, from the 1800’s to present day 2000’s. We are so tied up in our world today that we have not seen much of the past, so we do not known much about it or what it looked like. However, when there’s only vocal delivery and no type of visual, the listener is not distracted and tends to really focus on what the narrator is saying. Heidi McKee also believes that, “the qualities of vocal delivery in a web composition create tone and convey mood…” (7). When the narrator begins the podcast talking about Sullivan’s experience in the ring during a big fight, the listener feels that they are Sullivan himself fighting the opponent. They are immediately put in his shoes because of the vivid imagery. At times there were some silence, which only made the podcast more dramatic. It left one on the edge hanging and wanting to know more about John L. Sullivan. Silence is even a sound that we hear. Heidi Mckee says, “Even in silence, which does not ever truly exist, we hear the sound of our breath and the blood going through our veins” (2). Sometimes the narrator would ask a question like “Where do we put heroes when they fail themselves and us?” and there would be moments of silence after. This silence provided time for the viewer to think and answer the question. In addition, the creator of this piece leveraged affordances. From reading “Literacy in the New Media Age” by  Gunther Kress, it’s taken that the meaning of affordance is an aspect which suggests how media should be used or interpreted. Kress states that, “The concept of affordance gives us the means to ask about the potentials and limitations of the different modes, and at least to begin to examine what might be real or potential losses…” (51). This podcast “Shadowboxing” leaves its viewer with statements and questions that can require deep thought. For instance, this narrator ties alcoholism into this podcast. Because John L. Sullivan was defeated badly by one opponent, he gave up and became an alcoholic. However, every time he “fell off the wagon, he climbed back on.” The narrator completes the podcast with a single line, “He was a man who got up.” This leaves a intense impression on the listener, conveying the message that it is possible to overcome failure. The listener is also left with positive thoughts about Sullivan. The narrator’s voice is left in one’s head allowing them to make use of what he says and even learn more about John L. Sullivan, as well as relate to him as a person.



5 thoughts on “Project 2: Podcast Analysis

  1. Hey! This podcast sounds really interesting- it sounds like it had an anecdotal quality which, for me at least, is really helpful in holding my attention. I like that you address the aspect of silence, which I had never really considered to be a form of audio until reading McKee’s piece. It definitely holds a lot of importance in a world that is usually full of sounds. I also thought the soft rock background was interesting. I wonder if the podcast creator thought that it added to the piece or just wanted some extra audio component. Good job!

  2. Hey girl, I like what you said in regards to vocal qualities-they matter. In reference to the podcast you listened to, a monotonous voice is strikingly different than an upbeat and animated one. I think because the speaker’s voice didn’t change much, you may have experienced falling out and in of his story. It’s all about getting the reader’s attention and keeping it.

  3. GREETINGS!!!!!

    I listened to some of your podcast because I was interested and I agree with how you analyzed it. I’ve realized through listening to a few podcasts that if one is interested in the topic of the podcast, it is much easier to understand the meaning and is actually enjoyable. I am usually the type of person who needs pictures and visual aids to comprehend information. However, I did not feel that way during this one. I mentioned similar ideas to yours of vocal delivery and silence in my own analysis. It really does make a huge difference to the listener. Good job!

  4. Hi Alli!

    I also think that a good quality of vocal delivery in a podcast create tone and convey mood, as McKee said, since it creates imagery for the audience, which makes them able to feel and understand what the speakers are saying. Also, I agree that when there’s only vocal delivery the audience is able to focus only on what the speaker is saying, however I think they may lose attention as they have only one sense focusing on it.

  5. I found your post really interesting since the podcasts we listened to seemed pretty different. Yours was more of a biographical story, with monotonous tone and silences to incorporate seriousness and reflection, while mine was more of a conversation, with interviews and background sounds.
    In terms of the podcast medium, we did make similar points on the affordance of not having visuals – it’s sometimes difficult to visualize scenarios from the past or of situations we are unfamiliar with. I don’t know what boxing looked like in the 1800s, so visuals probably would have helped me better understand the podcast.
    Nice analysis!

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