New audiences the focus of Sounding Out 5 conference

A strong theme emerging from this year’s international Sounding Out Conference, held at the UK’s Bournemouth University last, was the multitude of new outlets available for ‘sound’ and the new audiences these generate. But can the major broadcasters keep up with this shift?


Keynote speaker, Hitchhiker’s Guide producer Dirk Maggs told the conference:

“What’s going on that’s really genuinely new is not happening with the major broadcasters.  We can now record on our PCs and our MACs and we can put up on the internet and everybody can listen. And that, I think, is interesting because this is where the genuinely innovative sound design and sound production for the future will come from. I think the BBC’s got a lot of catching up to do.”
Dirk famously recreated The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for BBC radio in 2003-05, and pioneered the use of Dolby surround sound. His keynote explained his experiences in the radio entertainment industry and his knack of “knowing where to drop the bombs,” which refers to the powerful use of “cinematic sound” in production.
Fellow keynote speaker Kaye Mortley presented her lecture called “Behind the Eyes.” She is an independent documentary maker, working with the ABC, France Culture and other state broadcasting companies.
Radio producer and Bournemouth University academic, Professor Sean Street described Kaye’s work as “radio poetry” that is “full of silence.” “Kaye Mortley gave a mesmeric keynote about ‘radio art’, if you like, where she talks about the film that goes on behind the eyes.”
Other lecture themes included radio documentaries, transitions in commercial radio, the identity of local radio, creating space with sound and much more.
Between lectures delegates enjoyed a range of installations in the University’s atrium gallery. Jack Quilligan’s piece ‘Imaginary Landscape’ incorporated visual effects, whereas Florian Harlieb’s piece “Im vorden Zimmer des hinteren raums” relied purely on sound. The piece used surround sound to excellent effect, using the medium to create a sense of space.
Sean Street told radioinfo: “The common denominator is that everybody thinks in a sound language. There is always that need for people to come together, not just to deliver their papers, but to share ideas and think about their world and touch common ground. I think that’s been one of the great successes of, not just the conference, but previous conferences.”

Below: Conference organisers Sean Street and Alain Renaud