Audio Story: Project Technician’s 2019 Experience

Burt resting next to the gem glacier

It’s a wrap! I’ve put the final touches on my audio story in which my friend, Burt Bjorling, shares his experience and a memory from last summer when he worked as a field technician on my graduate research in Glacier National Park.

Burt and I experiencing nirvana while overlooking the Grinnell Valley

Burt’s a remarkable (and a bit of a robotic) friend. We became ‘climbing buddies’ five years ago, shortly after he had one of his hips replaced. Despite that major procedure Burt and I somehow managed to scramble up an array of peaks in Glacier that summer. I was impressed by his physical accomplishments back then AND now. So much so, that this spring I asked him to join the field research team for my graduate research into grizzly bear use of army cutworm moths.

Not posed at all: Taking a gander at the grinnell glacier…down there

The creative process for this audio story started by learning the basics of Adobe Audition, the program I used to create it. This was achieved through a series of instructional tutorials. I then binge-watched audio stories from This American Life, Radio Lab and Story Corps for inspiration. Doing so affirmed my interest in shedding some light on Burt’s achievements last summer for the story.

Burt holding a survey plot’s identification card

For the second step of the process I created and compiled audio clips for the story. And so I created a short introductory narrative, interviewed Burt, and consolidated recordings of ambient sounds I had on file from last summer’s field season. In Burt’s interview, he reflected upon his fondest memory from the summer, which is when we were surveying field sites together near the gem glacier. As it turns out, I actually had sound recordings of Burt traversing some of the very ledges he mentioned in his interview! And so I used these ambient sounds in the third step of the creative process, taking the aforementioned clips and editing them into a draft audio story.

Burt traversing back across a mountain slope we surveyed

Step four involved giving feedback to my peers’ rough drafts and getting their critique on mine in return. Overall, my classmates enjoyed my audio story. Their common critique, however, was that I should edit-out Burt’s pauses and “ums.” If there was one thing Burt made difficult on me, it was his “ums,” for I had already edited-out a ton of them for my draft! For the final version, I heeded my classmates’ advice and edited-out additional “ums.” I didn’t remove all of them though. Rather, I kept a couple pauses and instances where I thought an “um,” was um…helpful to the story.

Burt “doing science” at a survey plot

Overall, I am pleased with how the completed story turned out. It puts a smile on my face to hear Burt describe his experience last summer. To listen to my audio story, click on the embedded SoundCloud link below.

So now you know what traversing goat ledges in Glacier sounds like. But what did my story’s ambient bridge sound look like? See for yourself below:

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