The wailing women you never got to hear | KUOW News and Information

The wailing women you never got to hear

Dec 9, 2016

Last week on KUOW, you heard the beautiful and heartbreaking story of Lucia Neare.

Neare was an orphan who became an artist who specializes in large-scale public performances. After learning the election results last month, she became despondent. 

Neare walked out of her home in the Central District and across the street to a traffic circle. There, she unleashed a full-throttled howl of despair into the night. 

One by one, neighborhood women added their voices to hers.

Marcie Sillman, who produced the profile, wasn’t with Neare on election night, so she couldn’t record the sound of the wailing women. So her editor suggested that she recreate the howl in studio.

“It was a long piece of script, so we thought about how we might break it up,” Marcie said. She asked seven women who work at KUOW to help.

These women are accomplished singers: Lisa Brooks, morning news announcer; Stephanie Shandera, office manager; Lisa Wang, events; Janice McKenna, director of finance and administration; Karen Turner, underwriting coordinator; Karyn Andriesen, director of development; and Dana Faust, underwriting representative.

The recording took just five minutes:

Dana Faust wrote: “Lisa (Brooks) started with this heartrending sound that made the whole thing quite musical, in the sense that music is the most direct expression of the emotions. It felt great. Catharsis!”

Janice McKenna, who sings in a choir, said the singers asked Marcie what they should emote. Anguish, Marcie said. She didn’t want harmony.

So McKenna put herself in that head space: “I was channeling the thoughts of desolation someone might feel.”  

Ultimately, Marcie and her editor decided against using the howl. It’s unusual for radio journalists to use manufactured sound – it’s kind of like fake news, Marcie explained.

“It sounded too much like it might have been the real thing,” she said. “We didn’t want audio that might confuse our listeners.

“I felt terrible that we couldn’t use it,” she continued, “but it was an experiment, and it made sense journalistically not to use it.”

The photos were taken by Rob Jacobs-Springer, one of our sound engineers.

“It felt a little intrusive, since the moment was supposed to be emotional,” Rob said. “At the same time, I felt like I should’ve been howling along- I was pretty heartbroken on election night myself. Still heartbroken, really.”

The women, howling in the KUOW performance studio. From left: Karen Turner, Lisa Brooks, Janice McKenna, Dana Faust, Stephanie Shandera, Karyn Andriesen.
Credit KUOW Photo/Robert Jacobs-Springer

KUOW's Marcie Sillman directs some of the singers ahead of the howl recording.
Credit KUOW Photo/Robert Jacobs-Springer