Terrascope Radio – Subject SP.360 (Spring)

Subject Description:

In Terrascope Radio, you will have the chance to explore new aspects of the year’s Terrascope theme while fulfilling part of MIT’s Communication Intensive requirement. Terrascope Radio focuses on the power of sound as a tool for communicating ideas to a variety of audiences.


What Will I Do in Terrascope Radio?

At the beginning of the semester we will issue you state-of-the-art sound-gathering equipment and professional-grade audio-editing software. You will start using these tools right away, exploring the acoustic environment of MIT and creating short audio segments. At the same time, we will listen as a class to a wide variety of radio pieces, analyzing them in order to figure out what the producers have done to make the pieces effective, interesting and exciting. You will incorporate these techniques into your own pieces, rapidly acquiring both the technical and the creative expertise necessary for making radio that works. Later in the semester you will work in a team to create a longer-format radio program for broadcast. As in the rest of Terrascope, you will be in control of all major aspects of the work: you and your teammates will collectively choose the style, content and format of your program. You will gather all the sound you need, write scripts, voice the scripts, edit your sound and produce the piece from scratch. Then, if you like, you will participate in the piece’s debut on-air broadcast.


Will My Radio Stories Be Broadcast On-Air?

Yes. Pieces produced in Terrascope Radio are broadcast first on WMBR (88.1 FM), the MIT radio station, and are then made available for national distribution via the Public Radio Exchange. Almost all previous Terrascope Radio final programs have been licensed and broadcast by other community and public radio stations, and some have been distributed nationwide.


Can I Hear Some Examples of Previous Terrascope Radio Broadcasts?

Certainly. Just visit the Terrascope Radio Archive page.


Terrascope Radio and the Spring Break Field Experience

Previous years’ Terrascope Radio groups have found that the Spring Break field trip is an ideal time for collecting the sound and interviews they need for their programs. Not only have they been able to gather unique environmental sound (what it sounds like to climb a volcano in 70-MPH winds; the noise a tortoise makes when pulling its head back into its shell; sea lions at an open-air fish market calling out as they wait for the day’s discards; water flowing in open-air canals across the Arizona desert; villagers in India shelling and processing mounds of areca nut), they have also had the opportunity to interview key people associated with the year’s Terrascope problem (Iceland’s minister of fisheries and agriculture; directors of the city of New Orleans’ departments of homeland security, public works, sanitation and parks; water-management experts at the Central Arizona Project; architects and construction experts at carbon-neutral Masdar City in Abu Dhabi; officers of a farmers’ cooperative in rural India). Capturing audio while you travel gives you a whole new way to experience your environment, because it gets you to pay attention not just to how things look or smell, but also to how they sound. On one trip, a Terrascoper decided not to take any pictures; when someone asked why not, he took out his microphone and said, “This is my camera.”




3-3-6, HASS A and CI-H


Spring, TR 2-5


Limited to 15 first-year students


Ari Epstein