Episode 1 from Season 3 of the StartUp podcast (http://bit.ly/2cWQ74k), entitled “Almost Famous”, takes listeners on the first of a two-part journey of three entrepreneurs who started JustinTV, which later became Twitch, and sold for more than $1 Billion. It discusses their ideas, how they came to be, their ups and downs, their successes and failures, and what they and their friends were thinking along the way.
The narrator is Lisa Chow, who speaks in a conversational voice. The story seems to be written in a way that reflects her personality, which is likely clever and sarcastic. At the start, the primary interview subjects are Emmitt and Justin, who she interviewed at a bar.
The interview at the bar seems to be recorded without regard to background noise, or possible interruption. Chow says, in the story, that she met the two men at a bar – and while she says that, natural sound from the bar can be heard in the background leading into the first clip. Soundbites from that interview include crowd noise from inside the bar, or music that may have been playing in the background.
Occasionally, to set up an interesting or dramatic part of the story, Chow will introduce an actuality by saying, for example, “the situation ended in a way they never would have expected…”
Then the interview subject would say a quick sentence like, “People actually liked it.”
Chow would then introduce the interview subject by saying something like, “That’s Justin, who moved into an apartment with…” and then more would be heard from Justin.
The story is told in a way that takes the listeners through a sequence of actions – this happened, then this happened, then this happened – followed by a moment of reflection about what the sequence means, and then a new set of actions.
The storytellers use music as a means of transition, where there is a pause in narration and only music is heard, and then narration begins, and then the music fades. It’s also used to transition into and out of a break to hear from sponsors.
At one point, the story took a brief tangent, where the listener hears from a variety of people who are not the main subjects of the story. A series of short audio clips is played, featuring friends of the subjects who are discussing what a disaster they thought this whole idea was. While this tangent occurs, some fun, light-hearted music plays, as if to package the tangent in a way that lets listeners know that we’ll be getting back to the main story in a moment.
The story also includes audio from video – where the primary subjects were interviewed on television, or video from the subjects’ own website – with light, peppy music in the background. The music, which fades when the video clips are finished, provides a sense of a small adventure within a larger adventure.
At one point, the narrator uses natural sound to describe something that that was happening on the subjects’ website video. It’s difficult to discern what was happening, which was the whole point, as Chow said, “Trust me, visuals don’t make this more interesting.”
The second half of the story takes place in Episode 2 of Season 3. As Chow previews that episode, some soft, mysterious music plays in the background, and then fades before a break to hear from sponsors. In this instance, the music gives the impression that the episode is about to end, but the listener should stick around because the remaining few minutes will still be interesting.
The story-telling is very well done, and — even though you can’t really see anything that’s happening – you feel a personal connection to the story, and the subjects of the story, by the time it’s over.