Field Noise is a podcast about the audible world and how we hear it. Listening can be simultaneously a personal, cultural, and collective experience. Even though we share the sonic environment with those around us, we don’t all hear the same things in the same ways. On a technical level, “sound” is a set of vibrations, waves that travel through the air to reach our ears. But how we process those sounds once they get there is informed by our history, culture, and politics.
I’m fascinated by sound on a technical and physical level—I love its quirks and nuances and relationships to technological apparatus. I think sound is inherently cool, and I love working with it. But I’m also cognizant of the historical ways that the categorization, regulation, and very definition of sound (and its counterpart, noise), has often involved silencing racial and gendered others, ethnic minorities, the differently abled, the lower classes, and the mechanized sounds of industrial capitalism. Sound can be used in extremely uncool ways: as a weapon, an instrument of power. In Field Noise, I’m hoping you’ll find a balance of “sound is cool” stories with “sound is power” ones.
In some ways, the Field Noise project started many years ago when I was a grad student in the American Studies department at the University of Iowa. Since defending my dissertation on the history of recording environmental sounds, I’ve worked in academic research positions as well as for the public radio show To the Best of Our Knowledge. This podcast feels like a long-overdue synthesis of my academic work with my technical interests in audio production and public radio.
The show is generally produced by me, with technical guidance and contributions from Caryl Owen, Colin Richie, Finn Ryan, and others. The theme song is “Grey Eyed Bird” by Slow Machete. Liz Wyckoff edits everything I write. This website, logo, and all of the visual elements of the show were designed by Art & Sons and Charles Barrows. The site was built by David Francis at VoxComp.
Thanks for listening,