In the case of “The Fall of Afghanistan”, this process began for me on Sunday morning. We had an episode on the bridge that was quite advanced in production and had nothing to do with Afghanistan. But as the weekend news unfolded, it became pretty clear that we needed to pivot and do a new show for Monday.
At 9 a.m. on Sunday a team got together to talk about the reporting we had at that time, what kind of story the moment demanded, and what we could put together within the allotted time frame. Lynsea, who had contacted sources in Afghanistan for a while, said she exchanged voice memos with a source all weekend, as the story unfolded. After listening to the tape, we all felt it was exactly the voice we wanted to hear on Monday.
Once we knew we had a powerful band, we wanted to preserve what was so powerful about it: that we move through time with the source; getting his raw emotional response to what was going on, as it was going on.
But the tape was lacking in certain things – in particular, what specific news it was responding to. And given that we wanted this story to unfold as a series of voice memos between Lynsea and the source, we couldn’t rely on a narrator or a host. Instead, we used the weekend media coverage between the voice memos to help move the listener through time and mark critical inflection points that appeared in the voice memos.
Beyond all of these considerations, we also strive to use the tools in our support to help create an experience, so we pay special attention to the little details – down to tenths of a second – where the music helps connect. two thoughts together, where the rhythm can help an idea to sink, where a breath can transmit an emotion. These details take time to hear, process and rework, and we have to listen to each draft in real time. And with each change, we listen to the draft – in real time – again.
Understanding the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan
Who are the Taliban? The Taliban emerged in 1994 amid the unrest following the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989. They used brutal public punishments, including flogging, amputations and mass executions, to enforce their rules. Here’s more on their origin story and their record as leaders.
It’s not the kind of story you can tell in a day. It took a whole team of people to reach out to sources, record their conversations, and stay on top of the news. And through their hard work, we were able to bring to life a deeply intimate portrait of a historic moment. I finished my last listening to the episode at 3 a.m. and handed it over to our engineer to mix and prepare for the post.
As a sound engineer, I love the art of taking something that can be a bit rough around the edges and chiseling it into something, not necessarily smooth, but something where the finish is intentional and has its sound. own character. That way the sound engineering feels quite tangible, something like carpentry.