Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Vitamin S

In one of my favorite books, The Golden Theme, author Brian McDonald (renowned story guru, author of all the books that Pixar interns are required to read before they even begin internship, award-winning screenwriter and producer) describes what he calls the story nutrient.

Stories are essential to survival and have been ever since the first primate slapped berries out of another primate's hand with added gestures and monkey sounds that said, "Make you sick.  Killed my cousin!  Don't eat!"

Bleeding leads on the news because we want survival information.  We are evolutionarily programmed to crave it and seek it.  What happened, we wonder?  Somebody was going too fast on an icy road.  Somebody did some bad drugs.  Somebody got on a plane that was stolen by terrorists-this one especially horrifying because there's no advice that will help you; you are powerless in that situation.  But no matter how horrible, we want to know. We need to know. 

That piece of survival information in a story is the nutrient.  We think of it as the takeaway.  But it's not just scary news or lifestyle advice.  Jokes, music gossip, candid moments with the listener and a billion other things jocks come up with are all nutrients.  They make life bearable by shoring up the listener's psychic immune system.

The way feral stories come together with on-air chops is one of my obsessions.  I love hearing how jocks do it.  It's still a very unique form.  When people post on social media it's always slanted for mass consumption. Radio jocks customize content for a very specific audience and to push that audience's buttons in a way that has nothing to do with sales or mass consumption.  It's designed to engage, sure, but also to fuck with their minds just a little.  You can't get away with that in social media or even in a vlog posting, because you risk being misunderstood.  Jocks have a far more masterful hand with their art form and they are unhampered by the rules that tie other forms down.

It's voice to ear, pure and feral.

No other media can deliver the same variety of nutrients.

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