Dispatches | September 02, 2010

About a year and a half ago this magazine decided to take its audio and digital presence to a new, transformative level. Then, I was an intern and overeager to get involved. Former managing editor, Richard Sowienski, and former audio editor, Lania Knight, asked for anyone interested in joining the audio team to help set up the new studio: a basement room, which still resembled its dormitory days (two opposite facing mirrors, two opposite facing shelves and bulletin boards). I’m not sure my thought process was so much a “Man, I can’t wait to scrub and paint and try to move an unassembled sound booth down four stories!” Nonetheless, I had nothing better to do on that Tuesday morning.

Today, Studio 54 (it’s in room # 54 and it’s a studio, get it?) is my project. Lania left the magazine at the end of the spring semester for a professorship (congratulations!) and recommended me as a suitable replacement. So, I say “Hello!” to you all. My first complete issue (33.2) featured the strength of Ken Kesey’s familial bonds, an electrocuted electrician, and the pain MS inflicts on the body and soul among many other great pieces. I learned to play the middle man between our published poets and the great recording studios we send them into and I also loved teaching interns the same techniques I learned not  so very long ago.

The work is challenging and I am lucky enough to work with some of the best staff, interns, and voice talent. Voice talent lands last on that list not due to some implicit pecking order, but I want to leave you with a story about how they are the ones that make me and the digital issue sound so good. Our next issue may have a surprise for our readers and listeners. At least, this story surprised me. R.T. Smith’s “First Meeting” carries a brevity and a voice unlike anything I have recently read in The Missouri Review. These same attributes make the story an incredibly fun read. The mind’s eye formulates a very specific character depending on one’s personal experience. My first thought upon finishing the story: “Wow, that’s really different and I really like it.” My second: “Oh, no. How are we going to record this?” That thought still rattled around yesterday when Emily Rollie (my talent director) and I sat down with Frank Lasik to record. We chose Frank because he fit the character’s demographics and because he is a very, very talented reader. Essentially, we said, “Here ya go, Frank. Good luck.”

I know I’ve had a good recording when I still smile as the talent finishes the piece, still laugh at the funny parts, still get goosebumps, still get choked up, still do all those things good writing makes me do while reading it. I walked out of Studio 54 at 4:00 p.m. yesterday still smiling. I hope you all enjoy these audio tracks as much as I enjoy creating them.

Scott Scheese is the audio editor of The Missouri Review.