Re-Air: Immersive Storytelling with Morgan Givens

Re-Air:  Immersive Storytelling with Morgan Givens
Re-Air: Immersive Storytelling with Morgan Givens

May 25 2023 | 00:49:30

Episode May 25, 2023 00:49:30

Hosted By

Stuart Barefoot

Show Notes

This episode is a re-air from November of 2022. We're currently working on new episodes, but if you missed Morgan's episode the first time around, this is worth your time.



In this episode of the Audience podcast, Stuart talks with Morgan Givens about how he uses field recordings and immersive sound design to create unique episodes that come to life for his listeners. Morgan shares the relatable story of Antoine in his fiction podcast, Flyest Fables

Flyest Fables is more than just a story of a young bullied boy. Morgan’s amazing storytelling abilities help Antoine’s story transcend race, gender, and age barriers. Today Morgan shares his storytelling process: how he writes, records, and edits his fiction podcast. Morgan also shares tips on how you can make your podcast come to life for your listeners. 

If you have any questions about this episode or want to get some of the resources we mentioned, head over to And as always, if you’re enjoying the show please share it with someone who you think would enjoy it as well. It is your continued support that will help us continue to help others. Thank you so much! Never miss another show by subscribing at

Today you’ll learn about:

  • Morgan’s journey into audio and podcasting
  • Why Morgan moved away from being a police officer
  • Morgan's storytelling process
  • How to use sound effectively in your podcast
  • The importance of podcasts like Flyest Fables
  • How great stories can be universal and relatable to everyone
  • Morgan’s audio recording and editing process


Morgan Givens:

Flyest Fables: 

Dispatches on Apple Podcasts: 

Morgan’s Guest Appearance on 1A: 

Castos Academy: 

Castos, private podcast: 

Castos, website: 

Castos, YouTube:  

Clubhouse video:

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hey Stewart here. We've covered a lot of ground over the past couple months on this show, but one area we've lacked in lately is audio fiction. Well, our next episode is gonna change that because we're going to talk to previous audience guest, Jenny Turner Hall. You may recall that she helped produce a show called A Simple Her Story, what she also co-created and directed a groundbreaking children's podcast called The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel. Here's a bit of what you can expect from that, but I mean, I think like almost all children's media, it seems like maybe not all, but a lot of it is centered around some kind of a mystery. I loved Scooby Doo when I was a kid. I read Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys, and you know, of course the Goonies being, being a classic film. It is kind of based around this mystery of, or this element of mystery. What is it, in your opinion about mystery that is so appealing to not just children, but really to adults too? Speaker 1 00:00:57 Yeah, well, it's that sticky hooky element I think. Whether you're a child or you're an adult, love the idea of figuring out a mystery. They love the intellectual puzzle of it, but they also love the satisfaction that comes with figuring out the mystery before the characters inside the series figure out the mystery. So I think it, it's a great gripping story cuz you can imagine, you know, there are easy stakes with the mystery. Usually somebody's life is in peril or something huge is at stake In this case, you know, a child has gone missing from a kid's perspective. It's their friend from an adult's perspective, it's someone's kid. And so that already sets, uh, kind of a huge stake that everyone can relate to. And then because the stake is so high, you know, there is a real motivation to be a hero and to solve the mystery, to bring back the missing kid, and also to put the puzzles pieces together, which from a writing standpoint is also fun to write. So mysteries, it's just an enduring genre. I mean, it's kind of the, we're not doing that here, obviously, but it's why true crime is so huge. You know, there's a real need and satisfaction in hearing a story where there's a huge mystery and it gets solved because so many things in life don't get solved. Speaker 0 00:02:25 So stay tuned to this feat, because that's coming up next week. Until then, let's revisit an episode from November of 2022. When I spoke to Morgan Gibbons about their podcast series, flyest Fables, sometimes audio creators are really good at getting us to use all of our senses. It's a skillset that enables them to build their own worlds. Speaker 3 00:02:49 I wanted it to sound as though you were eavesdropping on something that was actually happening. And what happens when sounds are used that are created only in studio. It does not give you that sense of reality, like you can kind of hear the creation of it. And there, there are just things that do not happen naturally in studio that happen naturally, sound wise, in the real world. Speaker 0 00:03:15 Next, you'll hear how a storyteller and audio producer uses field recordings at immersive sound design to bring his podcast to life. My name is Stuart, and this is Audience, a Casto original series for podcasters in the pursuit of producing better shows and uncovering the business that powers audio creators at Casto. We're all about creating better shows like this one that you're listening to right now. Hopefully you think it's pretty good. In addition to our suite of tools that makes your podcast process a bit easier. We also help others produce their podcasts. That's right. You can work with a team of talented professionals to create a show. Email or click on the link in the show notes. Speaker 3 00:04:07 I wanted those worlds to feel as real as possible because one of the things that happens when we're adults is that we forget the magical thinking of our childhood. We forget that edge of consciousness. What if it's real? What if it could be that exists? Only when we're children before we find out, like, actually that's completely impossible unless we hop in some multiverse and talk to some physicists or whatever the case may be. Speaker 0 00:04:34 Morgan Gibbons wrote Fly as fables for his nephew, but he also thinks of it as a fairy tale for black kids. Speaker 3 00:04:40 Because if you are a young black kid, you are often denied some of that magic as you're growing up and you're, you're often told that the magic within you isn't real. And so that's kind of what flies fables is for me. It's like a reminder to them that like you guys are magical too. And just because you might perhaps deal with terrible things, you might have difficulties, it does not negate, you know, the beauty of who you are, your existence. The fact that we are also glad to have you here Speaker 0 00:05:08 Each episode, interweaves stories of multiple characters like a young boy named Antoine, dealing with bullies, or Marcus, the homeless Vietnam vet that he befriended both characters escaped their day-to-day realities by delving into a magical book, this plunges Antoine and Marcus and ostensibly the Listener and into the magical kingdom of Orleans. Now, there's no spoilers here. You'll have to listen to the whole series, but it falls into a new subgenre known as Hope Punk, which is a form of speculative fiction, often featuring characters fighting for positive change, radical kindness and communal responses to challenges. All of it is the work of Morgan, a remarkably talented narrator who voices every character in the series. Morgan's journey to fly us Fables has been pretty unique. He began his career in another field altogether. He worked for the DC Police Department designing, training curriculum for new officers that led to him working to stop sexual violence in our prison system. And he even got to visit and speak at the Obama White House, but he found police work to be unsatisfying and counterintuitive to his beliefs. So he left for greener pastures while he was still a cop. He began doing these one-man performances in front of live audiences and had such a knack for storytelling that he landed a job at NPR working as a producer for the show one A. But you could argue his storytelling journey began before any of that. Speaker 3 00:06:34 I think like most kids, I just grew up listening to like the radio, like my family was not like an NPR public radio family. Like if I listened to the radio, it's like hot 92, whatever, you know? And it was like, so like you always got like the DJs, you would hear the morning talk shows. So when it comes to audio, there was always that sense as people always continue to point to this sense of community that kind of came through it. I did not recognize it as audio at the time. I was eight. I'm like, this is radio. But when I think about my relationship to audio, I, I, I kind of expand a bit because I've always been in the realm of audio. I'm an on stage storyteller. I just was not in the realm of recorded audio. So like, as far as audio, I've been on stage telling stories since like 2015. Speaker 3 00:07:15 So that was like my introduction, you know, if I had to look at a point where I said, this is when I'm like, audio is where I need to be with the written word. It was like the first time I got on stage and told a story because it was like in that moment of recognizing the audience, leaning into what I had to say, being open to what I had to say. And like that reciprocity that happens when you are doing such a good job as a storyteller, that people kind of sit in this pocket with you. It's, it's like this pocket, this cone of reverence that they, they come into with you, they trust you and they say, I'm gonna walk into this with you because I trust you to take me on this journey to tell this story with me. And when I recognized it, I said, you mean to tell me I could just leapfrog over all these gatekeepers <laugh> Speaker 5 00:07:55 And reach people on my own? Like, hold up, wait. So, Speaker 3 00:07:59 You know, it was back in 2015, I think that I really started recognizing, you know, what I could do with some of my own, I think inherent talents as like a writer and a storyteller, and how I did not have to wait for someone else's Yes, I could tell myself yes. And so I think it kind of happened when I was on stage in that moment again, and I saw those people really just being in that place with me. And it's just a very, I don't, it's, it's an emotional place, but it is also a comfortable place. It, it, it makes me feel like what it may have felt like hundreds of years ago when we had to tell stories to one another to survive to understand our world. And I was like, how do I replicate this? And so I started with a podcast called Dispatches, which was like first person interpersonal interactions that I could not get out of my mind, which was usually because I failed as a human <laugh> Speaker 5 00:08:47 In those moments. Speaker 3 00:08:48 And he was like, oh, oh no, this is not who I think I am. But I acted in a way that is opposite of who I want to be, who I say I am. And so I usually chew on those. Speaker 0 00:08:57 Your performances for and for like context for folks who haven't seen it before are kind of like these, like one man spoken word performances in front of a crowd, little bit like slam poetry maybe if I'm, yeah, Speaker 3 00:09:09 Like think of the Muff. Like it's, it's, it's like, like I was doing, I, my first story was like the DC version of The Moth. I've done storytelling for the Moth, hosted for them, you know, things of that nature. But that first story was something very similar to The Moth, and I didn't realize who I had auditioned for. I was like, oh, whatever. I was drunk when I pitched, you know, I didn't remember pitching <laugh>. But by the time it gets to the point where we've done all the work to put this story together, you know, my very first story told on stage was like in front of 900 people. And I was like, okay, <laugh>, Speaker 0 00:09:39 You're describing, you're describing a nightmare for some people. You find yourself on stage and you're like, wait, wait. Speaker 3 00:09:46 I'm like, wait you, I thought we were, I thought this was like a small thing. They're like, oh no, we sold out. I'm like, sold out. Who? <laugh>. Cause I had no idea. Uh, <laugh>, Speaker 0 00:09:55 It's interesting that you came from that world of life performing because I've heard people who musicians or people who are used to being in front of an audience and then they've turned to something like podcasting. It's kind of a weird transition for them because they're used to getting that real time feedback. They even maybe thrive off of that energy. What's that been like for you? I mean, was it, was it weird going from being in front of everybody to just kind of being by yourself with a microphone? Speaker 3 00:10:23 I mean, you know, what's funny is that it was almost the inverse for me because I'm actually fairly introverted. And so being on the stage, <laugh> is the part where I'm like, it works for me because it's me on that stage and I am in control of that back and forth. But if i's just me in a group of people, I'm, I'm uncomfortable. I'm also autistic. So it's like that social interaction part, it's like, mm, I don't really understand what you want from me. So it was almost like I can control that interaction. I can be as open or as vulnerable as I want to be in that individual place on that stage. And so being able to kind of step into the place where I don't get that immediate quote unquote gratification from the audience, that immediate response for the audience, it didn't feel so, it does, it doesn't feel terrible for me. Speaker 3 00:11:12 And in fact it, it kind of feels like a relief to me, um, not to feel as though I have to be on and performing. Because when you're in that space, on a stage, people expect certain things from you. I can give you that in a 15 minute episode, but for me to be in a place where I have to give that after telling the story and then all the time after as you're like having to talk to folks because they do want to have those conversations. And often they're great, but sometimes I'm exhausted <laugh>. Like I don't have anymore emotionally to give like, I'm on e I'm an introvert. Like I can't do it. Um, so it, it wasn't exactly terrible for me. I think it was, it was the, the opposite. I, I tend to find myself more drained after doing the onstage performances, even though app over the years, those have become quite second nature to me. I actually prefer to sit in the space of that, just me and the audio and then I can put it out to the audience and they can do what they, what they want to. Speaker 0 00:12:06 Now, when you were first doing these performances, were you still a police officer? Speaker 3 00:12:11 The first one I did, it was, uh, the, within the last five months of me being a cop. And I actually met the woman who became my wife in that <laugh>, that storytelling show. Whoa. Yeah. She was in the audience, had never met her before. And we like linked up afterwards because there was a guy in the show with me who was like, my friend thought you were cute. And I was like, what? <laugh>, you know? And like, here we are, we're married now, we've been together for like seven Speaker 0 00:12:34 Years. What made you want to stop being a cop? I mean, I could probably <laugh> all of it. Yeah. <laugh>. Speaker 3 00:12:42 I mean, I think, I think I realized that it wasn't for me, like my grandmother was a police officer for 30 years in North Carolina. It's what got my family outta the projects. Like that was the option for her. And so I was like, that worked for grandma. Grandma's literally balling on not a budget, just balling. I'm like, how you got all, you know, she did very well, invested all her money, flip houses, all of this stuff. Grandma's doing quite well. I was like, I can do that. But I had different options. And I think when I did that, you know, it was coming outta the recession when I graduated, or we were in the middle of that recession out of like 2010 or whatever, couple years, like a decade or so change ago. Dang, I'm dating myself, so we're coming outta that I needed something to do. Speaker 3 00:13:15 And I was somewhat directionless and I was like, I can do what grandma did. So I came to DC because one, I can get outta the shadow of my grandmother because she was like a legend <laugh> in the police department there. And I was like, I want to be who I am for myself, but also DC is far more lenient when it comes to like trans issues and trans rights. And I'm like, I need to be someplace where I can be like safe or at least have legal protections in case X, Y, and Z happens. But I ended up leaving, you know, one because I just know too much about what policing is. I've read too much about what it is and the origins of it, ens, slave catching patrols. And at a certain point it was like, if I have different options and I can look at policing as a whole from its historical origins to how it exists today in the system in a way that it kind of protects the property of the wealthy. Speaker 3 00:14:04 It's like a, it's, it's, it's policing is used from what I was able to see as a way for the powerful to maintain control over the quote unquote powerless. And I was like, do I want to be part of this system? Because my goal in life has always, I think kind of to be in service to people in some way, shape, or form or capacity. I can see that through line, through all my careers. But at a certain point I had to ask what I was actually in surface to, right? Like I can, if I did something kind to help someone in my role in that job that day, sure I helped that individual person. But on a societal level, on a structural level, my being part of this is condoning it. And I can still do those kind things outside of the police department that I was doing within it without upholding the structure that systematically kind of oppresses black and brown folks <laugh>, you know? Speaker 3 00:14:53 And so it's like, do I want to be part of this when I, I have different options. I have better choices. So I, I left because I just knew too much. And also because, you know, like I said, I met the woman who became my wife in 2015 when I was still a police officer on stage storytelling. And one thing I noticed about a lot of officers, you know, because I could tell they were grooming me, you know, you can tell very early on who they want to be brass in some shape or form of capacity. I'm like, cool, okay, whatever. But when you look at those people, they have no families when they retire or they retire and they immediately get divorced because they haven't been home. You know, once you reach a certain level, your family is there, but you're not able to be as involved with them. So it came down also, when I retire in 20 years, do I wanna retire to someone or do I wanna retire to someone I don't know, do I wanna retire alone? You know, what would my future look like? And so when I kind of sat down and thought about all those things, it was like, if you got the opportunity to bounce and you can take it <laugh>. And so, so I did, I I got out of Speaker 0 00:15:51 There. You move out of, you move out of being a cop. And then you said you got an internship and you were working at one A at the time. Speaker 3 00:15:57 Yeah, so like between B being a cop and, uh, the internship at one A, I did some work at a non-profit called Just Attention International. We did work eliminating sexual violence in prisons. I was like, cool, I'll do that. I used to go into prisons all the time, talk to folks, you know, and they'll tell you what really happens. And what I noticed is that they would be a lot more open with me than they would be with my coworkers, but I was like the only black guy on the team. So <laugh>, they would, they would share things with me outside of even what we were trying to do as far as eliminating sexual violence in prisons. But I did that for about a year and a half and I was like, this is soul crushing in a completely different way. And that's when I kind of saw the one, a internship and news and radio news Daily news is not what I wanted to be in. Speaker 3 00:16:40 It's not where I see myself ending up. But I'm also one of those people who is like, you take the door that's open and you make different moves once you're kind of in that space, it's like, I know I don't wanna stay here, but I will see different opportunities, different paths will open up if I'm here, I can learn different things if I'm here. So even though it wasn't something I wanted to do long term, I could see the benefit in doing it in the moment. I could see the benefit of what I could learn in that moment. Speaker 0 00:17:06 By the way, I mean, just part of the legacy there at one a Joshua Johnson, of course mm-hmm. <affirmative> who started that show, it took over the time slot di Diane Ream had. Exactly, yes. And she's, she's like a public radio legend. And of course now, uh, Jen White and the work she's doing Speaker 3 00:17:20 Is amazing. Yeah. She is one of the, literally that kindness you hear coming from her in interviews, that authority that in that, that incisiveness, like it's all real. That is her 24 7. Like, it is not put on like some host, you be like, oh, you're not like that for real. Like, this is just the radio that is Jen White 24 7. Like, I have yet to meet a person who has anything but great things to say about her. And from my experience hanging out with her, she's just, she's wonderful. She's also a giant sci-fi nerd, which is great. <laugh>, which is super cool. <laugh> Speaker 0 00:17:54 Just the way she navigates interviews in real time. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> is just absolutely, it's, it's a work of art. Speaker 3 00:17:59 It is. She's masterful at her job. Speaker 0 00:18:02 You're working at like one A and you know, then you are a graduate of the transom of their storytelling, what is it? Like workshop or Yeah. The Transom. The transom story. Speaker 3 00:18:12 Like an eight or nine week workshop or something like that. Yeah. <laugh> Yeah. Speaker 0 00:18:15 Working with, uh, Rob Rosenthal. Yep. Who of course is also, you know, talking about Giants Yeah. In this space. And you, you produced a piece for that called Runaway that mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Rob was so impressed with that he actually decided to chat with you about it on how Sounds, and yeah, it's a, it's a fun interview to listen to. And I, I know there, you guys talked about how you were the first person to ever take on a historical fiction piece at Yes. <laugh> at Transom, which probably is not Rob's expertise. Speaker 3 00:18:44 No, he no, it was not. God bless him. <laugh>. Speaker 0 00:18:47 <laugh>. Well, uh, so you kind of broke some ground there and, and Runaway is a phenomenal piece in a minute we're actually gonna play a little bit of it if that's, if that's all right with you. But I think that's worth pointed out that you went all out for this. You went to New Bedford and even did some of your own field recording. Tell me a little bit about the process of g going to New Bedford, going to that historical society and interviewing all those people, and what was that like? Speaker 3 00:19:15 Oh, I mean, they were great. The, the women I spoke with at that historical society, the New Bedford Historical Society, were incredible. And it was really nice listening to them tell those, that those historical truths through their lens, but also with the primary sources they could point me to. And one of the things that I wanted to make sure I really had a sense of when I went to that society was, you know, because part of that episode of Runaway takes place in the home of the people who helped my character escape, right? And I wanted to go to their actual home. I wanted to hear what it sounded like, because if I can be in that space, if I can hear what it sounds like, I can more accurately attempt to recreate something, quote unquote fictional with those notes of what is actually fact. Speaker 3 00:20:07 So like, even when I was at the Historical Society, I'm walking around and I'm listening to how my feet sounds fall as I'm walking, I'm like, what does that sound like? I'm hearing, I'm like, I'm listening to these women, but I'm like, it sounds a little hollow under my feet. So when I recreate this, it perhaps needs to be a little hollow. Or as I'm walking through the space and I'm imagining where this character's gonna be sitting, reading their book, as Mary comes rushing in, I'm like, where is she coming from? I know where that front door is. I know where my character is kind of gonna be sitting. And so a lot of that New Bedford visit was about getting additional historical points that I could not find in the research I was doing that I could not find in the primary sources that they could kind of point me towards to help make the entire piece cohesive. Speaker 3 00:20:53 But a lot of what I was doing there was listening to the space, listening to the sounds in that space, and trying to think about what it would be to recreate those types of sounds. And it's, it's not even a lot, you know, Mary runs into to meet my character, and you hear her footfall, you hear the door open, you hear her footfalls, and then she's there like, you hear her voice getting closer. You don't have to do a lot. But because I was in that space, even though it's fiction, I knew what those footfalls should sound like. So when attempting to recreate them, I could recreate them in a way that would be accurate to what I heard in that home. When people are walking on that floor. Speaker 0 00:21:29 And for a little more context here, runaway is a fictionalized recreation of a slave narrative. You created it to stand in place for those who fled and were unable to write or tell their own stories. Historical fictions, very interesting to me. And I, I've read that right off of your website, by the way, <laugh>, uh, <laugh>. But I, but I did listen to it and au uh, historical fiction, you know, regardless of the medium, whether it's print or, or audio, seems like a pretty fun space or an interesting space at least to work in, because you have a framework under which you have to have to work. But then the, the fiction part of it gives you a little bit of latitude to create your own characters. And, and again, your, the, the, the characters and, and your story runaway here would've, this is probably very similar to what they would have experienced. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, Speaker 3 00:22:13 I put it together in a fictional way. But the things in it come straight from like slave narratives. Like there's one part where the character says, you know, I had to douse her with a bucket of my own tears mixing salt water or something like that. That was an actual thing that someone wrote. Yeah. That someone wrote about having happened to them, like being doused with a bucket of salt water. Right? And so those things, when I pull those things, when you hear those parts, those are pulled from actual, you know, narratives of enslaved people or so, like all those little things, those little comments about the mother protecting the child, the child running away. Obviously wade in the water has so many connotations. But when you think about that song, and we're talking about water, we're talking about crossing water, we're talking about the transatlantic journey around water. Speaker 3 00:22:59 So water in and of itself in that episode, or that, that show takes on a bigger meaning because how many times does this person cross the river? How many times does this person cross water to someplace else? And I, so I, I play with that within the show. But everything that this character goes through from what New Bedford looked and sounded like to how people acted and lived there are based on the primary sources that I read. So when you hear in that episode about the children of New Bedford black and white running to school, that's based on fact, when you hear about the sailors and, you know, the pirate shanties they would sing or whatever, that's based on fact that pirate shanty is not an actual shanty as far as I can tell from that moment. But the things that they were doing, those, those interactions, again, are based on fact. And so a lot of it was me just sitting down, taking the time to read all these primary sources and then sitting down and be like, okay, if I wrote a story, how do I incorporate those? How do I weave in these facts into this character who is not a real living person in a way that makes them seem real, that makes them believable, but does not make them cloying or, um, pandering, if, if that makes sense. Speaker 0 00:24:12 It does. And well, good directed to the source here. Let's listen to a little clip from Runaway, and then on the other side, I kind of wanna get maybe some like nuts and bolts, how you made this piece. Speaker 6 00:24:23 I have only truly feared for my life. Once before tonight I was a small child and my mother called to me, but in the same instant, my old master hollered my name. I took one look at the hard and frown on his face, the barbed whip in his hand. And I ran to my mother. She cried out a muffled sound, a gast at the heart. I accidentally unleashed and threw herself prostrate before him. I didn't know how could I have, he whipped her into my soul shrink. And then the revival, he made me dow. So with a bucket of saltwater mixed with my tears of apology, I exchanged one cruel master for another as he sold me the very next morning to Patrick Wilson. I do not know if my mother survived, but what I do know is that she would've wanted me to live. So I ran for my life. Speaker 0 00:25:25 It's a powerful piece. <laugh>, you talked a lot about the symbolism there, what, what water meant. And that's fascinating. I actually, you know, I did not pick up on that the first time I listened to it. And I'm really, it's, it's by pure coincidence that you mentioned that earlier. And that was the clip I happened to play. And it was, I liked listening to it then just knowing what you told me just a couple seconds ago. But the, some of the footsteps we're hearing there are actually your own, right? You're walking through the woods in Connecticut. Oh, Speaker 3 00:25:52 I was in the front yard of the house. They put us up in, at tram, like running in the front yard, like beating up bushes. It was, I was like, the neighbors are gonna call the police on me because I am assaulting the grass, the trees and the bushes to try to get this sound. But the footsteps, those sounds of the bushes. Yeah. I, I, that that was me. <laugh>. Speaker 0 00:26:13 I mean, again, like it's one of those things where you could probably go into like a, like a sound library Yeah. Somewhere and get some royalty free stock sounds. You could, and it would've sounded all right. I mean, I think it would've served its purpose, but to me there's something really authentic about knowing that like, wow, Morgan like really went there and like recorded those footsteps. To me, that adds a whole lot to it. Speaker 3 00:26:36 Yeah. I mean, I wanted it to sound as though you were eavesdropping on something that was actually happening. And what happens when sounds are used that are created only in studio, it does not give you that sense of reality. Like you can kind of hear the, the, the creation of it, if, if that makes sense. And there, there are just things that do not happen naturally in studio that happen naturally, sound wise, in the real world. And I, I talked about this a bitten how sound with Rob is that if I'm running outside, it needs to sound like I'm outside. I can't just hear the footsteps on the grass and I don't have that sense of space and that, that sense of, of, of largeness, which comes from actually capturing that sound in a front yard in the great out wonderful huge planet we have as opposed to a sound enclosed studio because sure, I'll get those footfall sounds, but that footfall sound on the grass isn't gonna sound the exact, it's not gonna sound like outdoors. Speaker 3 00:27:34 If I am not outdoors. You're not gonna get that sense of expansiveness if I do not record it outdoors because it's in the layering of those different sounds and those different types of expansiveness that the world gets larger. So I don't have to keep layering all this background sound for what I've already captured it. So if I capture that background sound, that sense of largeness when I'm running, and then I capture that background sound, that sense of largeness while I'm like getting those bushes to make it sound like somebody's running through them, once I stack them on top of each other, the world sounds even bigger. But it also sounds as though it was a documentary. Like you were there watching this person, which is what I wanted. I wanted when they started playing for the audience to feel as though they could see this person doing those things as opposed to having those things told to them. If, if that makes sense. I wanted to create a world that pulled them into it as opposed to a world that they viewed. And that, and that's what I see a lot of times in audio dramas or even audio in general, is that the world is created to be viewed as opposed to be to being created, to be immersed in. And I like, I wanna create work that people are immersed in. Speaker 0 00:28:43 You often hear stories of photographers who will spend hours mm-hmm. Speaker 3 00:28:47 <affirmative> Speaker 0 00:28:48 In one spot to get that one shot. How many takes did you do of the footsteps? Oh, uh, to get something you were happy with? Speaker 3 00:28:55 I did like maybe four or five takes because I knew what I needed that sound to sound like, because I'm, as I'm listening or putting together the episode, it's coming together at as at one time in my mind, not in pieces. And I'm like, here's the dialogue, here's how I'm gonna, like, it's all there at once. And so it didn't take a lot of takes because I already kind of knew what I wanted the words to say, what message at least I wanted to be conveyed when these sounds were heard. So even though I might not have had, you know, cuz I, I wrote that, I wrote Runaway like the day before it was due cuz I was like, Rob, I wanna do historical fiction. And we were going back and forth and I was like, I'm doing historical fiction <laugh>. So I, I wrote the day before it was dub Speaker 0 00:29:36 A as you said that it kind of makes sense cause I've done some of like the radio bootcamp stuff before. So I don't know Rob as well as you do, but my, my sense is I know he, he treats recording audio a lot. Like maybe some, again, like to use the photographer analogy, you know, he makes those, uh, those very detailed like scene charts where he, he does even wants, so he likes having things like pretty written out. So if you're learning from him, I, I could see where maybe you went out into the field with like a pretty good idea. I I sometimes I almost work the opposite sometimes, but not for like philosophical reasons, just because I procrastinate a lot. <laugh>, well, I'm a big Speaker 3 00:30:10 Procrastinator myself, which is why it got written the day before. <laugh> <laugh>, Speaker 0 00:30:15 Flyest Fables is one of your other projects, and I think you even explicitly call it immersive storytelling. So 30,000 foot view flies, fables, what's it all about? Speaker 3 00:30:26 It is, it's about creating new fairy tales for black kids that help them recognize the magic in themselves and the magic in the world. Because if you are a young black kid, you are often denied some of that magic as you're growing up and you're als you're often told that the magic within you isn't real. And so that's kind of what flies fables is for me. It's like a reminder to them that like, you guys are magical too. And just because you might perhaps deal with terrible things, you might have difficulties. It does not negate, you know, the beauty of who you are, your existence. The fact that we are also glad to have you here, despite what some in the world might say. So flyers fables for me is like, you know, it's like a love letter to my nephew, but it's like a love letter to all little black kids. Speaker 3 00:31:12 Like, I'm glad you're stay here, here are stories for you to help you maybe figure out how to do that. You know? So yeah, I I guess that's, that's kind of just like a bit hokey, but like, that's how I kind of view my show as like a, a message to the kids, the black kids who might not have those stories for themselves, who might not see themselves represented in that way. Because it's, it's quite amazing and wonderful what can happen when a person feels seen in any way, shape or form, no matter how small that may seem to us. The, uh, the, the fact that they are seen, that they are recognized in some way, I think can often be a lifeline for folks. And I had a difficult childhood. My teenage years were not great. I was like, I don't know why I'm here. Speaker 3 00:31:56 I'm ready to go. So <laugh>, it's like, but you guys don't have to go. It's it, I promise it won't be great all the time, but please stick around your worth sticking around. And so that's kind of what kind of goes through my mind when I create these stories. It's like, what kid am I reaching out to? Who needs to be told stay? And that's, that's how I kind of write my stories. It's almost like I'm telling these kids stay, but I'm telling it to them in different ways and I'm using fantasy to do it, and I'm using magic to do it. And song. What's the Speaker 0 00:32:27 Feedback that you get? Like, I mean, do you get black kids telling you all the time? Like I, you know, I never, I never, you know, saw myself Yeah. In these types of stories until, until I heard flies fables and like that. That's, that's gotta be in and of itself. It's Speaker 3 00:32:40 Pretty cool. Speaker 0 00:32:41 Rewarding. Speaker 3 00:32:41 Yeah. I mean the feedback is, is all over the place and it's optimum feedback that I have not expected, you know, because I make it for us. I made it for young black kids, it's accessible to others, but that's, that's my target audience. Um, but I've had people my age who are older millennials who are white. Love it. I've had people of all different races love it. I've got this dude who's named Bob, love Bob to death. Bob is in his late seventies, a Vietnam vet and loves flies fables. And I'm like, Bob, you know, <laugh> like, so the, the reception has been larger than I expected. I've reached an audience I did not intend to reach and did not expect to reach. And I think that's just because perhaps more people need to be told perhaps, you know, I would like for you to stay <laugh>. Speaker 3 00:33:21 That I realize. Um, and that perhaps that that hope punk edge that is in the show, that that idea of light in, in spite of the darkness, I think is something that people are also really kind of gravitating towards. And so I've had these responses from black parents who email me and they're like, my kid loves your show. Oh my God, they beg me to listen to it every night before bed. Like I've had teachers like who are using it in their classrooms for curriculums. Like, I've gone and spoken to like elementary school kids who are working on myths and working on their own fables, and this is part of the curriculum for their show. Or I've had a woman who emailed me and was like, oh my God, I just got diagnosed with breast cancer. I don't, I didn't know how to talk to my children about it, but I listened to this episode of your show and it helped me figure out how I can talk to my kids. Speaker 3 00:34:12 It gave me an entryway to talking to my children about me being sick. And it was an episode where one of the character's fathers is very ill in the hospital and she was able to play this episode and listen to it with her kids and talk about this episode. And that provided her the entryway to be like, Hey, mom's also dealing with X, Y, and Z Mom's gonna be okay, but mom's gonna get a little sick. And so just those little things, those, that ability to create work that allows those conversations to happen. Because so often, you know, I create these stories to remind young black kids like stay, but I also create 'em to create that space for these difficult conversations to happen. Because just because we're adults does not mean we know how to have these conversations. And it's like, how do you help families have that space to have those questions come up, to engage in those types of conversations without it seeming like, oh, we're just gonna have this talk outta the blue. You know? And it's like, it's creating that space I think for those difficult conversations that even adults have trouble talking about. But because there are children, we have to know how to give them the framework to deal with some of these difficult issues and topics. Speaker 0 00:35:21 Obviously you and I probably experience America very differently. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Right. I think, I feel, I feel confident saying that. I think that's probably <laugh>, that's probably not, that's probably not a secret or at all, or, or a controversial thing to say, but I, I understand what you're talking about, about writing, you know, writing a show. So, so black kids feel seen. But again, some of the things these characters are dealing with, yes. Some of it probably seems very specific to the black experience in America. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But some of that also transcends things like race and gender and class, the character Antoine mm-hmm. <affirmative> getting bullied and using fiction as a way to escape, you know, the world that he's in. Yeah. That, that to me seems like such a, a human thing that anyone could experience and Oh, for sure. I, I, I wonder if, you know, you talk about Bob, the Vietnam vet who told you that he loved it. Who's he relating to? Is he relating to Marcus now? The person experiencing homelessness? Yeah. One of your other characters Or is he relating to Antoine? The, the kid he who is bullied? That's just an observation that I had like while you were, uh, explaining that. Yeah, Speaker 3 00:36:21 No, I mean, you, you make a good point. You know, Vietnam, Bob and his Harley Davidson, you know, Speaker 0 00:36:26 <laugh> <laugh>. Speaker 3 00:36:28 You make a good point because yes, I make these stories for like young black kids specifically. Like there is a moment where Antoine and his mother have this conversation and she's like, life is different for kids like you and young black kids are gonna know what that means, you know? But that could also mean a lot of different things. But again, like you said, there are things that transcend the nonsense we have been taught to adhere to in society. Like these structures exist because, you know, white supremacy, all of these different sort types of things. But when I write for these characters, you know, there are things that will transcend like being bullied that I, that sense of loneliness, that sense of wanting to connect, that sense of being misunderstood is universal. It's just am I'm telling it through the lens of a young black kid. Speaker 3 00:37:20 And so I think because I'm telling it through that lens of a young black kid, it's specifically for young black kids, but it is a universal thing. But what happens is that young black kids are often blocked off from that universal universality of emotion, if that makes sense. They're not allowed in the society to experience and show that range of emotions. And so it's universal, but it's also me trying to show and say to them, it is okay to broaden your emotional response because the world teaches young black kids to deaden their emotions every single day. And I'm not telling them to open themselves up to feeling all of this in places that is not safe, but to allow themselves to know they can feel these things. And it is okay, you know, just often how if a black, a young black kid is irritated or frustrated, someone will call them ang angry or combative. Speaker 3 00:38:10 And it's like, why did you choose the word combative? Now you're telling this young, so it's like if you, and so it's like be mindful of your language because the word combative connotes violence, which does what ties into what the idea of blackness is violence. And so it's about me also telling them it is okay, you do not owe them deadening your emotions. You do not owe society a lack of your humanity. Your humanity is yours. Claim it in its entirety. And that means claiming all of it, all the emotions you feel and those emotions are okay. Your emotions will not kill you. Your emotions will not destroy you. They are there to inform you. That is it. Emotions are not fact. But if you do not teach young people, they can have those emotions. You don't teach them the framework that they can understand and deal with these emotions. Speaker 3 00:38:57 We often have issues as they grow older, you know, and that's just outside of young. That's, that's kids in general. You know, a lot of adults who are running around here acting wild are kids who needed to be hugged <laugh>, you know, like, that's it. It's like you needed a hug, you needed several hugs. It's not, I'm not the person to hug you, it's not my job cuz you're grown now. But I look at Trump and Kanye, I'm like, y'all need hugs. Y'all needed hugs as kids and now y'all adults acting now all the ID of your childhood. And it's a problem. <laugh>, it's a problem. Someone needed to hug you at eight <laugh>. You know. So Speaker 0 00:39:30 Was Antoine, the character, Antoine, the, the young boy in the story, was he, was he autobiographical at all? Was any of you any of your experiences put in there? Is that, is that too personal? Speaker 3 00:39:40 No, it's not. It's not too personal at all. Because I wasn't bullied in school. I was just a kid who always read, you know, I think part of that is autism. I'm like, I don't know what you people are talking about. I'm gonna read my books. You know, I'm like, y'all are just speaking a different language. So part of it, I think the book aspect is autobiographical. The way the mother engages with him. That's how my mother often talks to me and my brother to this day. I'll be like, mama, please. She'd be like, what did you say to me? I'm like, Uhuh, I'm 36. Mom. Chill. You know? So it's like, so those aspects are autobiographical, that sense of loneliness. He has that sense of being misunderstood. It parallels some of what I also experienced growing up, but I also saw that sense of loneliness reflected in some of my cousins and some of the people around me. And so Antoine and his mother, they're pulled from people I know, like they, they are stitched together of people that I know in my life, you know, people that I grew up with. And so in, in a sense it is autobiographical like those, those throughout the episodes, those moments of loneliness, those moments where characters are feeling deep emotions tend to be somewhat autobiographical. You know? Of course until we get into the fantasy part and the ocean's like doing whatever <laugh>, you know, like that. However, it's not autobiographic Speaker 0 00:40:53 You, you haven't been, you haven't been magically transported into another kingdom. If only Speaker 3 00:40:57 That would be pretty dope <laugh>. Yeah. I'd have to bring my iPhone to get picks, you know, like, oh my God, Speaker 0 00:41:03 <laugh> picture, it didn't happen. Right. Exactly. Speaker 3 00:41:06 Exactly. Speaker 0 00:41:08 Flies, fables, squarely falls in the world of like audio fiction. I mean, I think it's a unique listening experience, but it does fall pretty neatly into that genre of, of audio fiction. One A is very much not and Speaker 3 00:41:21 Not at all. Speaker 0 00:41:22 <laugh> not, not at all. Uh, I'm, I'm curious how your time at one a informed what you do now. And let me maybe try to give a little more context what I was just saying cuz I, I, I had a brief career in public radio as well mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And one of the things I retained from that time is you gotta be mindful of imagining your audience while you're doing the work. Right? Right. So if you're doing like morning news, you know, what are people doing? Well, they're getting ready for work. They're driving to work maybe. And this was a not too long ago, but not real recent either to where, you know, not everyone had the weather on their smartphone or so, so anyways, you know, you're, you're giving the temp, you're telling, you're giving the time, the temperature, you're giving the forecast for the day, that type of thing. Speaker 0 00:42:06 Podcasting's often treated as for some people. Anyway, I, I won't quite call it background noise cause I don't think that's being very fair Yeah. To, to the work that we do. But, you know, I've often heard people say they listen to their podcast while they're cleaning, while they're cooking mm-hmm. <affirmative> and while, while they're driving. Yep. <laugh>, are you thinking about that at all while you're making this? Because I've listened to flies fables with my headphones, I've listened into into the car. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I was listening the other night while I was cooking and it was good experience no matter, no matter the method. Yeah. But it did feel a little bit differently listening on my headphones. So are you thinking about that at all? Like while you're designing these shows? Yeah, Speaker 3 00:42:46 I mean, for the, when I, when I am designing it, I am designing for the most part for folks, if you're kind of like listening in your headphones or if you're listening in a, a space that is kind of still and perhaps a bit more quiet. And what I have found is that when people hit me up about this show, they'd be like, I started listening to this show while I was doing X, Y, and Z and then I stopped doing X, Y, and Z and just started listening to the show. And I sat there for three hours and it's like, yes, that's what I'm going for. Stop what you're doing and listening. But that again, you know, comes into how I put the show together, the tone of my voice, the way I kind of draw people in and make them really want to pause and hear what's coming next. Speaker 3 00:43:26 But I, I do think about how I sound scape and how I sound design and you know, there are things, there are different little sounds that you might not hear. If you're not listening on a headphone or you're not sitting in a car if like you've got like, you know, a a speaker like, you know, just a fricking regular speaker that's just sitting on your counter making noise. You, you might miss some nuances. But as far as the heart of the story when it comes to the music, when it comes to the words, that always kind of comes through clearly. And so I'll listen after I've mixed with my headphones on, you know, to make sure it's doing what I wanted to do. And then I'll listen again without my headphones just to get a sense of what the sound is doing in, in different ways, how it's hitting the ear if I'm not listening directly through headphones. Speaker 3 00:44:15 And I'll go in and perhaps make small minute tweaks that don't change how it feels in the headphones, but perhaps will give you a stronger sense of sound if you're not listening to headphones. But I tend to make it so that it's, if you got your headphones on or if you're sitting in your car, it, it works, but it's, it's almo. If you're doing a whole bunch of other stuff, you'll, you might perhaps miss different sounds. You might miss different emotional resonances and different emotional cues which don't take away from the story, but may take away from some of the depth of the story. So when I think about putting my show together, I try to put it together in a way that if like you had headphones or if a teacher set two speakers left and right in front of their classroom, the kids are gonna get all of that as opposed to just if, if, if that makes sense. So I, I tend to mix for headphones and like a left right speaker, you know, predominantly. And it worked us fine without it, but it, it's, it again is not a show where you have to have headphones. It's not a show where it's like headphones are recommended or you're gonna hate it. Like, that's <laugh> that's not, that's not what it is at all. So Speaker 0 00:45:18 Do we get a season three of flies fables? Speaker 3 00:45:20 Oh yeah. I'm actually dropping, uh, <laugh> finishing season two, starting the 14th of November this year. Uh, and then season three starts March of 2023. I took a break, I was exhausted. But, um, I'm very excited about finishing season two. I'm very excited for folks to hear more about DeQuan and the moon and the ocean and DeQuan s father who is, you know, you have a chance to listen is this judge who's doing a lot of funky things. Um, but <laugh>, it's, I I am, I am really excited for where the story's gonna go and it's gonna expand a bit. We'll, we'll see DeQuan and Princess Keisha meet in season three and I'll, I'll contract the world just a bit because young people, I want them to have time to reer themselves and where we are in the story and who these characters are. So my thing is kind of expand contract, expand contract so that I don't lose my core audience in, in the, and how complex it can be. But I wanna keep it complex so that they feel challenged but not so complex. They cannot rise to meet the challenge. So it's like, I'm gonna move it up here. You guys jump and hit that because young people are so much smarter than I think we often give them credit for in the art and the, the things that we create for them. And so I want, I create these things so that they strive to reach them, but don't feel as though it's a, a, a challenge that discourages them. Speaker 0 00:46:39 Fly as fables anywhere. You get your podcast where you can get the full range of everything Morgan's doing the storytelling from the stage, runaway dispatches it, it's all good stuff. Morgan, if you stick around Sure. After the credits, we'll get that podcasting tip from you. Yeah. But I do appreciate, uh, your conversation today. Of Speaker 3 00:47:00 Course. It was great. Thanks for having me as always. Thanks for having me. Wasn't that the, the, the podcaster sign off? Thanks for having me buddy. <laugh> <laugh>. Speaker 0 00:47:09 So that was my conversation with Morgan Gibbons. Thinking back on that episode, one thing I remember is how quickly Morgan and I gelled. As you probably know, sometimes it can take a few minutes for both a guest and a host to feel comfortable with each other, especially if they've never met. But with Morgan, despite it being the first time we spoke, it immediately felt like I was just reconnecting with an old friend. To follow everything, Morgan is up to. Check out morgan and now it's time for this week's podcasting tip. Speaker 3 00:47:40 So my name is Morgan Gibbons. I am the creator of Flyest Fables. And my podcasting tip is listen to the world around you. When you are moving outside, when you are in restaurants, in grocery stores, walking down the sidewalk, pay attention to how the sound hits your ear, what direction the sound is coming from, how close you can tell the sound is the speed in which the sound is approaching. You know, when you pay attention to all those little nuances, when you're just moving around in the world, it becomes much easier to recreate that reality in sound. It becomes much easier to recreate that scene. And it sounds true and real as opposed to something that was created in a studio, though it won't sound canned and it's, it's about layering. So as you're moving through the world, listen to how the wind hits your ear. Listen to how the wind feels against your back, cuz that tells you what direction it should be blowing and which will tell you how you should be hearing the leaves on the trees, which means you can create these scenes that you then put your characters into and that helps you right into a scene as opposed to on top of a scene. Speaker 0 00:48:44 Audience is a Casto original series created entirely by our in-house production Team. Our executive producers are Matt Madeiras and Craig Hewitt. Production assistance is provided by Isel Brill, Joscelyn Devore, and Marni Hills. Logo and website design is by Fran Schwab Brill. All music comes from the Story Blocks Library. This episode was edited and produced by me. I'm Stuart Barefoot. If you liked it, they're splitting more where it came from. All episodes or anywhere they have podcasts.

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