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Aspen Public Radio to launch “Sonic ID” initiative

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Lisa DeLosso / Aspen Public Radio
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Aspen Public Radio is formally launching an effort to build, catalog, and archive an original “Sonic ID” audio library. Sonic IDs are short audio vignettes, which function as :30- to :60-second-long sound portraits woven throughout the station’s daily broadcasts.

Aspen Public Radio is formally launching an effort to build, catalog, and archive an original “Sonic ID” audio library to preserve the diverse sound heritage of our mountain communities—and advance the station’s reputation as a community connector and innovator. The initiative is made possible thanks to funding from the Aspen Chamber Resort Association.

Sonic IDs are short audio vignettes, which function as :30- to :60-second-long sound portraits woven throughout the station’s daily broadcasts. First pioneered by Jay Allison in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., Sonic IDs take advantage of preexisting interstitial station ID breaks to replace traditional promotional messaging with the unmistakable voices of people, natural sounds, historic moments, iconic events, and more—for example:

  • The bugles of male elk during their annual migration
  • Cheers from the annual Ruggerfest
  • Culinary superstars in the Grand Tasting Tent at Food & Wine Classic
  • The mighty roar of the Colorado River during runoff season
  • A hot air balloon launching at the annual Snowmass Balloon Festival
  • Aspen’s fire whistle, which rings each day at noon
  • The joyful cheers of skiers at Aspen Highlands on a powder day

“These sounds, collectively shared by those who live here, are a valuable way of establishing a truly distinctive sense of place for our listeners, which is unique to Aspen and the Valley,” says executive director Breeze Richardson, who spearheaded a similar initiative as director of strategic partnerships at WBEZ 91.5 FM in Chicago. “By capturing the hyperlocal sounds of daily life throughout our region, we believe all these common places, activities, events, and interactions will build the connectivity that we know is crucial for the health and vitality of civic life –while bringing joy to listeners as they remember favorite events, sounds, and places.”

Richardson approached the Chamber for funding to support the collection of these recordings from throughout our region, with the goal of collecting both manmade and natural sounds. “There are so many cultural experiences and community voices that make living here special,” says Richardson. “We also want to recognize that there have been changes in our physical environment due to climate change. So it’s vital to preserve these inherent sounds of our iconic landscape now; they might not be here in the future. Capturing these sounds is a significant, real contribution we can make to celebrating our way of life in Aspen and the Valley.”

Aspen Public Radio listeners will begin hearing these audio vignettes on 91.5 FM and 88.9 FM in the weeks ahead. Richardson encourages community members to share feedback and ideas for building out the library, by calling the radio station with your ideas. “We want to grow this library thoughtfully, and if we can secure the right equipment to loan out, one day train individuals on how to submit their own recordings, whether that’s from hiking Hanging Lake, sharing margaritas at the Woody Creek Tavern, or cycling up the Pass,” says Richardson.

Visit aspenpublicradio.org or call 970.920.9000 for more information, or email sonics@aspenpublicradio.org using the subject line, “Sonic ID Collection.”