I was 12 when the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City happened. I can't say I recall where I was when I found out or how I felt about it at the time. In contrast, I recall the exact moment I found out about the bombing of the World Trade Center towers in New York City. I headed to the office of our local elementary school to make copies for the teacher I was assisting, and the secretary had wheeled a television in and was watching CNN. As she began to tell me what had happened, we watched live as another plane crashed into the other tower. The rest of the day, I continued on in a daze, shocked by what I had seen. Yes, I was older, but the way I learned about the event and my experience that morning had a lasting impression.
On the 20 year anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, StoryCorps featured interviews with two survivors, who were children at the time of the attack. Directly above where the explosives were detonated was a day care center; of the 168 victims, 19 were children. Each interview reveals an emotional exchange between parent and child about what happened that day, and the pain that remains as a result.
As a storytelling device, podcast #424 did an excellent job of keeping me engaged and making me feel more connected to the people involved in the attack. I found that listening made me want to know more about the attack, and led me to researching more about both the original and the new structure. The research and information presented gave a clear picture of the lingering effects of the attack, and the intimate interviews made me see each victim as an individual. I found myself thinking about the families of the victims, and how the events that day changed the course of their lives forever. The concluding segment with the narrator and the Oklahoma City Memorial Museum employee left a vivid impression on my mind.
The digital craftsmanship of the work was appropriate as far as audio quality is concerned. However, more media related to the podcast would help to put the story into context. After listening to the podcast, I looked up related photos and it made an impact on my sense of place in relation to the story. More photos of the people being interviewed would also improve the experience.
Initially, I listened to only one of the interviews. The podcast is organized in a somewhat strange way, with each interview being posted seperately, and one longer version featuring both interviews plus opening and closing commentary. After listening to only one of the stories, I listened to the longer version and found I had a greater understanding of the bigger picture. Therefore, the mechanics of the media left me somewhat confused. The interviews were rather short, so it seems that it would be beneficial to simply post the longer version for the story to be more complete. There was also no way to get a direct link for the media through the website, and in order to do this I had to go through iTunes.
Another side note related to how the media was presented; the website has some great features that add to a localized feel to the experience. A mapping feature that shows the different recording locations and an open invitiation to host StoryCorps in your own community give a strong sense of place. To improve the overall experience, I would add a gallery of photos that align with the longer version of the podcast, and add a feature to directly link or share on the website.