My podcast Challenging the Church tells the story of the “Loud Fence” campaign by survivors of clerical abuse in Ballarat. It describes the methods used to share survivors’ stories and highlights the success of the campaign for individuals and as a means to apply political pressure to have clerical abuse exposed and acknowledged
I have been a follower of the ‘Loud Fence’ movement for years. I searched the Facebook messages to analyse the methods used and pinpoint defining moments in the campaign. I was also aware of the less influential “Broken Rites” campaign and used this as a contrast to emphasise how social media had enabled “Loud Fence” to be so successful.
My peer-reviewed reading revealed examples of disempowered communities using social media to build support and gain political power. Most inspiring was Castell’s book “Networks of Outrage and Hope” (2013) which gives many examples of communities across the world who have challenged powerful political and financial institutions to reaffirm their values as individuals. Whereas traditional media is controlled by those in power, digital media allows individuals and groups the freedom to communicate without censor. Cleverly done, social media campaigns can ‘get under the skin’ of large institutions and bring them crashing to the ground.
I composed the music for the podcast in a program called “Notion” which is written in musical notation but can be played back and recorded.
The introductory piece is a wailing theme reminiscent of a boys’ church choir. As the boys sing, they are interrupted by the “Paedophile Priests” that, like Prokofiev’s wolf in “Peter and the Wolf” calls to mind the evil predator.
The musical finale is again a soprano choir. It starts with a unified tune. Other voices join in as the power builds and the piece ends on a triumphant note with great force.
It is important for me to write my own music as it allows me to express exactly the mood I am looking for and is part of telling the story in my own voice.
I learnt much from this work.
- A podcast is a synthesis of thought. Without the background of study and analysis, the product is thin. My process was to include everything in my script and then cut back to the essential.
- I had to think through my topic carefully to be clear of what I wanted to say. Seven hundred words spoken in five minutes is rationed thought and I edited ruthlessly.
- I practiced the pace of my speech. It was tempting to speed up my voice to fit in more words. This makes listening difficult so I went through many editions before the final draft.
- Inflection was also important. Five minutes is a long time when spoken in a monotone. Considered reflection also allowed me to keep my points clear and to emphasise important phrases
- I listened to many podcasts on different topics, giving me insights into how to pace my speech, frame my ideas and use a convincing tone.
- I practised recording the podcast and listening back. I wanted to be familiar with the script so I was less likely to stumble. I also used the listening process to help me edit: when my mind wandered, I cut those words out no matter how clever and essential I thought they were. I left days between recording and listening so that I came to the recording with ‘fresh ears’ and was more likely to pick up phrases that rambled or didn’t ring true.
- Timing was critical. I struggle to be brief so keeping to the 5 minutes + 10% was a challenge for me.
This exercise was valuable and enjoyable. I am keen to produce my own podcast on missing persons in Australia and both the research and execution of this podcast was deeply satisfying.
Castells, M Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age. May 2013, Polity. pp 2 and 5