‘Sonic Expressiveness': Notes from Jonathan Mitchell

Jonathan Mitchell is the creator and executive producer of The Truth, a contemporary audio drama podcast.   Mitchell’s work has been featured on Radiolab, Studio 360, This American Life, and All Things Considered, among many others. His work in pubic radio has spanned about fifteen years.

On Nov. 8, Mitchell visited Quinnipiac to offer insight into his career, present his work, and answer questions that students had about audio drama and narrative. This visit was sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and the English Department.



-Mitchell’s career began in music composition, but something about the human voice interested him.  He looks at the voice as a colorful, varied, rich sound that can be manipulated sonically.

I really like the sound of people talking naturally and unscripted.

-He decided it might be best to apply his interest in the human voice to the art of story-telling.

-During college, Mitchell always desired to enroll in a film course that was consistently unavailable.  In this frustration, he developed the idea to create “films without pictures.”

-Mitchell collects a lot of material and then finds a story within that material.

-Using improvisers, Mitchell began crafting and pitching fiction pieces to programs like Weekend America.

-He says the best way to work with improvisers is to present them with an outline and let them take it from there.  Just letting them run wild with an idea can create stress and frustration for everyone.

It takes the pressure off.

-Achieve natural-sounding audio by recording on-location rather than feigning sound in a studio.

-Sometimes your improv plan doesn’t work, or major changes occur.  Just go with it!!


Check out Mitchell’s work at The Truth for more information and audio.