Manufacturing Radio: This is That

CBC's This is That, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

CBC’s This is That, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

I’ve long been a fan of This is That, a radio program produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). If you have not yet heard it, or heard of it, I highly recommend it to your attention.

My introduction to the show (on two separate occasions) came while driving in the car — and in each instance, I didn’t hear the full 30-minute broadcast, but rather only one or two items from each episode.  Speaking to me from the  car radio, on my usual CBC station, and sounding like a typical news/feature radio program, I was lulled to accept what I was hearing, by context, was truthful. I do remember after the fact, however, shaking my head a lot.

SPOILER: This is That is manufactured. It’s satire. It’s hyperbole. It’s parody. And it’s funny!

If you know The Onion, it’s like that, but for radio.

One of the often-promoted characteristics of Canadians is that we’re not afraid of a little self-depricating humour. For the CBC to continue to support the work of Pat Kelly and Peter Oldring — the two Canucks who make This is That (now in it’s fourth season) is a testament to how successfully the show “sounds like the CBC,” while serving up completely tounge-in-cheek bits of manufactured news, mock documentaries, and ridiculous feature articles.

While the topics have their genesis in real-life type events and issues (close enough to reality to be plausible), the pieces themselves are completely fabricated.

In support of the current ds106radio focus on audio as a tool for storytelling, I’ve taken* one of the This is That mockumentaries and done a little commentary using the comment functionality of SoundCloud.  It’s a perfect tool for sharing your analysis of a piece of audio. And letting others chime in. Listen, and then think about the questions below:

It’s amazing to hear how some carefully selected sound bites and structure can make even a completely fake story pull at your heartstrings.  Does this sound like real radio to you? What draws you in? What pictures are created in your mind? At what point did you say, “Okay — this just CAN’T be real?”  And despite that, how do you feel for Jesse at the end?  I’ve not commented on everything in the piece — why don’t you login to SoundCloud and add your thoughts?

featured items from "Best of This is That"

featured items from “Best of This is That”

I’m hoping to take some time to cull through the This is That Archives and share some of my other favourite stories from the show. Perhaps you’ll share some of your favourites back? To the right is a sample of some of the types of stories. They pretty much all sound plausible, don’t they?

*NOTE: Please note that the copyright for the original audio file (source here) remain with the CBC, but that I have transferred the .mp3 to SoundCloud for the purposes of annotation and cross-platform access. The original item is available World’s Fastest man Discovered in Nova Scotia on the This is That corner of the CBC website, and can be heard via the Flash browser there. This is That content is also available as a free podcast though the website and via subscription in iTunes.