Picture a college professor standing at the front of a crowded auditorium and speaking to a group of three hundred students. The speaker, sharp-eyed and astute, has a glass of water and stands tall and mighty behind a podium. He projects a series of sounds toward the dreary-eyed students – a mouthful of verbs, adjectives and nouns, all carrying different meanings. The speaker’s information may be fascinating and well organized, but one MU researcher doesn’t ask why someone is speaking. He’s more interested in studying how the speaker is communicating.
The non-invasive tools Radhakrishnan uses to study voice production are sophisticated, and apparently accurate with their results. He demonstrates how he records the voice levels of his subjects.
As a young boy, the idea of using his voice in a performance setting fascinated Radhakrishnan. “I wanted to be in movies, be an actor, director, and all sorts of stuff,” he says. “Coming from a family of doctors, my dad, his dad, and grandparents were all doctors; they wanted me to be in the medical field.” Instead, Radhakrishnan chose a career that fell in between vocal performance and medicine: speech pathology.
Thorson highlights a few examples of how the model is being used for newspaper, television, and radio organizations. Working with two newspapers in the South, they are designing a series of phone and Internet surveys to test the wants and needs of audience members in terms of four variables. The results will help them adapt to the changing environment. They have also been working with Minnesota Public Radio to apply the media choice model to a radio medium. In this situation they are figuring out how to make the public radio station “a forum for community discussion about significant issues.” Working with WHO-TV in Des Moines, Iowa, Thorson and Duffy are trying to find a way to drive traffic from broadcast television shows to the station’s website.