Music 286R Listening, Creativity, and Imagination

Abstract - Jenny Wang

Audio Clip

Horror radio has held a huge appeal for many consumers throughout the history of radio listening. Cackling hosts, familiar sound effects, and a reminder to turn off the lights all welcome audience members into the arms of a new, terrifying, twenty-minute tale. Many aspects of either horror media or audio content have been examined at length in the past, but the uniqueness of the auditory horror experience merits a careful analysis of just what made, and makes, horror radio so chilling. From careful listening and transcriptions of episodes from the greatest hits of horror radio (Witch's Tale, Light's Out!, Quiet, Please, etc), this project aims to examine the similarities or differences in themes and compare them based on their respective broadcast dates or any other relevant social factors. Another important aim is to identify how different features of horror broadcasts effectively engage and terrify humans psychologically, based on technical details of the broadcasts such as pacing, voice emotionality, or environment-building. In order to properly compare and contrast the effects of each episode, and to properly isolate the psychological effects, the research is presented in the form of a "radio broadcast" inspired by the shows of the 20th century. In a meta way, the audio piece will be a fictional first-person account from a student at a school radio station who is working on a project to describe the psychology of horror radio. In a classic horror radio twist, this audio composition will have its own chilling and fourth wall-breaking finale.