Ways of Hearing

Originally aired summer 2017

Ways of Hearing from is a six-part series, originally heard on Showcase, hosted by musician Damon Krukowski (Galaxie 500, Damon & Naomi), exploring the nature of listening in our digital world. Each episode looks at a different way that the switch from analog to digital audio is influencing our perceptions, changing our ideas of Time, Space, Love, Money, Power and Noise. This is about sound, and the ways we are using it to share information in the world right now. Our voices carry further than they ever did before, thanks to digital media. But how are they being heard?


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Damon Krukowski (@dada_drummer) is a musician (Damon & NaomiGalaxie 500) and writer (The New Analog). He has written about sound and art for Artforum, Bookforum, The Wire, and Pitchfork.

Ways of Hearing is produced by Damon Krukowski, Max Larkin and Ian Coss, written and hosted by Damon Krukowski and sound designed by Ian Coss. The executive producer is Julie Shapiro.


Episode #1 – time

Contemplate the way digital audio – in music recording, and in radio and television broadcast – employs a different sense of time than we use in our offline life, a time that is more regular and yet less communal. Guests include: Ali Shaheed Muhammed of A Tribe Called Quest; and Joe Castiglione, the radio voice of the Boston Red Sox.


Episode #2 – Space

In Tokyo, people on crowded trains pretend they’re asleep, to avoid eye contact. But in modern-day New York – richer, neater, just as noisy – count the headphones: it’s like we’re avoiding ear contact. In this episode, Damon examines how digital technology is privatizing public space. Guests include writer/activist Jeremiah Moss and historian Emily Thompson.


Episode #3 – Love

You don’t have to be the son of a jazz singer to recognize the voice of a loved one as music, made up of sounds so basic to our understanding that they precede language. And yet our digital devices strip much of that away, trading intimacy for efficiency. But what is the essential part of our voices, and what isn’t? Guests include: jazz singer (and Damon’s mom) Nancy Harrow, Roman Mars of 99% Invisible, and musicologist Gary Tomlinson.



On the hit podcast Song Exploder, we learn the digital secrets behind some of today’s best songs. But we hardly ever hear the voice of the show’s creator, Hrishikesh Hirway. In a special bonus episode to Ways of Hearing, Damon Krukowski interviews Hrishikesh — and explodes Song Exploder.


Episode #4 – Money

In the 20th century, music seemed like an object — bought and sold like any other product. But digital technology has dematerialized music, separating it from money and revealing its real terms of exchange. Guests include: Artist and writer Jace Clayton, also known as DJ /rupture; Victoria Ruiz and Joey DeFrancesco of the Providence punk band Downtown Boys.


Episode #5 – Power

When you go into a bookstore, or record store, or library, you enter another world that you have to learn to navigate. You adapt to it. But today’s digital corporations have created a musical universe that adapts, predictably, to you. Guests include: Jimmy Johnson, owner/founder of music distributor Forced Exposure; Paul Lamere, director of developer platform for Spotify; and Elaine Katzenberger, executive director of City Lights Books.


Episode #6 – Noise

Ways Of Hearing has looked at how digital technology has changed our world: our sense of time, of space, of intimacy and exchange. In the final episode, Damon lays out an essential choice: between a world enriched by noise, and a world that strives toward signal only. Guests include: Dr. Alicia Quesnel of Harvard Medical School and Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary; audio engineers/musicians Steve Albini and Bob Weston (Electrical Audio, Shellac)


The Making-of

Since the series aired, writer, host, co-producer (and excellent musician) Damon Krukowski has taken the podcast to the page, with Ways of Hearing the book, published by MIT Press in May 2019.

The conversation was recorded live before a studio audience on April 9 at the PRX Podcast Garage in Allston, Massachusetts and was mixed by Ian Coss.

It was led by Damon, with Radiotopia Executive Producer Julie Shapiro, Ian Coss, who co-produced and sound designed the podcast, Matt Browne, who edited the book, and James Goggin, who designed the book.