Project 2: Making Meaning

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.



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