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Uncontrollable “Verge”

As part of this week’s festivities, we’re listening to our podcasts, as well as critiquing them, to see what works and what doesn’t. For the first half, we listen in on another podcast, and in my case, it’s The Verge.

Quality of audio sound -e.g. Is the volume appropriate? Are the levels even? Is the sound clear, and free of noises not needed (e.g. mouse clicks, background noise)?
This portion of the program passes its test with flying colors – for the most part. While the volume could be turned down a bit at times for the voices of the experts, the sound had no real offending noises to speak of.

Quality of audio editing – use of effects, transitions, are the edits clean?
The edits I did pick up aren’t entirely clean, as the skips in what seems to be the theme song near the end of the Alzheimer’s segment, along with other sudden stops in the recording process – I did hear someone suffering from the sniffles at 1:51 and 2:34, for example – could’ve been edited out better by cutting the unnecessary footage from the feed, and in the case of the music, trying to re-edit it to run more smoothly. The near-lack of effects in the actual episode bothers me after a while; without anything to balance the, admittedly, unenthusiastic script reading, not to mention stop one bumper from having the music drown out the dialogue, The Verge makes me feel like this is another podcast that everyone treated like a visit to the In-N-Out Burger. The transitions are seamless, though, and I have no problem with them in the slightest.

Use of sound effects- how are they used? Is it effective?
The sound effects I did hear got the point across – knowing you forgot something is an act of recognizing one’s stupidity, and people will do anything to prove that they’re always in the right, regardless of the consequence. The minimal use of sound effects makes me wonder if they were trying to be like This American Life, however, which only magnifies the editing issue further, as some sound effects sound louder than others, like in another bumper where they lined up a series of sound effects, one at a time, with the first one providing a big booming sound when I first heard it, and the other two sounding much quieter by comparison.

Use of music- how is it used? Is it effective or distracting?
The immediate use of the theme from Bill Nye the Science Guy, in the first bumper alone, does give me a feeling of familiarity, implying that an educational feel, albeit with a twist, will be brought to this show. The use of background music during key segments set the tone for a conversation between friends, and the violin playing during the “one in two people, in our generation, will get Alzheimer’s” part of the episode provides a moment of perspective for the listener. This does add to the realization of the risks that come with the reward of being born in the first place; it’s a cruel and unusual punishment, for the crime we’ve committed all our lives – living.

Does the show have a structure? Is it cohesive or does it feel stitched together?
While it is trying to be the former, the early mistakes – as honest as they were – quickly pushed The Verge into the latter territory, and forced it to stay there. While human health is a serious issue for people of all ages to talk about, the lack of editing in several scenes makes it sound like the team behind this episode were talking too loud for their audience to take it as seriously as they should, and that’s where this project suffers its biggest failing of all.

Does it tell a story effectively? Is there a sense of drama, unknown? Does it draw you in to listen?
Once you get past the poor editing, The Verge manages to tell it like it is, especially during their opening segment on Alzheimer’s, a disease my grandfather died from. While it doesn’t focus on drama, it does tell the story of real life – “actual reality,” according to the cast of Rent – hitting hard, and often, with the stone-cold truth of the world around us. It does have a lot of editing hiccups to work on, but it does what it needs to do, not what it wants to, drawing people in with the Bill Nye sample, and keeping it glued to its station with the facts of life, and then some. With that in mind, I give the cast and crew of The Verge the benefit of the doubt.

If you would rate this radio show, how many stars out of five would you give to the show?
I can only give it a flat three out of five stars, due to its willingness to go after controversial topics from time to time, almost like a real newscast, even as it suffers from poor editing, and a lack of enthusiasm from the experts, almost as if they were doing a book report, more than a radio series on the importance of human health.

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