Musician Lucho Hernandez is visually impaired, but is able to "see" his native city, Lima, Peru, simply by listening carefully.
Join Lucho for a walking tour through Lima, while he muses about the modernization of the city and points out some of the aural details that reveal Lima's true personality -- from the activity of a typical marketplace to the patterns and rhythms of the traffic racing by.
Lucho Hernandez is a Lima-based musician, writer, and sociologist. He plays piano professionally at a number of Lima restaraunts and has produced a few CDs of his work. Lucho also writes a column for a local Lima paper about issues related to disabilities. Some of Lucho´s more exciting adventures include writing a book about his experiences, running for political office, and playing in a band. He is currently researching how to make the Internet more accessible to the blind.
Jesse Hardman is a journalist with more than ten years experience in public radio. He is currently a journalism fellow based in Peru through the Knight Center for International Journalism. Jesse´s work centers around the establishment of a more capable and independent press in Peru. He recently completed a semester as a professor at the Peruvian University of Applied Sciences. As a reporter he has filed stories from places as diverse as Mexico, New York, Hawaii, and Gary. His work has been heard everywhere from All Things Considered to This American Life.
BEHIND THE SCENES with Jesse Hardman and Lucho Hernandez
How did Tur de Lima come together as an audio story?
JH: Lucho came and worked with my journalism class in Lima. Our goal was to write and produce a series of radio shorts to educate the public on issues related to the blind and visually impaired. "Tur de Lima" was an idea Lucho had for a while. He wanted to create something that could show off his town through the unique sounds that he encounters.
Lucho Hernandez: I was interested in recording sounds around the village where I live, considering that each sound could be expressing something.
Why is Tur de Lima especially well-suited for the audio medium?
JH: Walking around Lima with Lucho is an experience. He is picking up on things that I would never have caught, and using these sounds to orient himself, entertain himself and in many cases stay safe. As somebody who has spent ten years working in radio, I was excited to hear a whole new layer of sounds that I had been missing.
I think public radio does an increasingly good and creative job of introducing and utilizing sounds to its audience. You almost never hear radio here in Peru work with sound. There is a real lack of understanding and in some cases interest in the possibility of sound on the radio. For somebody like Lucho, who relies on the radio for information, this reality is frustrating. So we set out to create an example, in both Spanish and in this case English, of the possibilities of sound.
LH: Because it gives the listeners an idea of the characteristics of the environment where I live.
What challenges did you face in making the story?
JH: The challenge in recording "Tur de Lima" is that traffic dominates the city. It is everywhere, loud, fierce, and dangerous. It was a bit of a challenge to record some of the subtleties that Lucho picks up on with the traffic always in the background. I switched between a shotgun microphone and a regular mic depending on the environment.
It is also a bit of a risk to walk around Lima with two microphones, headphones, a tape recorder, and in my case, red hair. You are a bit of a target. Thankfully nothing happened. In deciding what content to use, we recorded for over three hours, and it was hard to decide what to use. Our goal was to edit the peice so it sounded like a short but complete story. We had to cut a lot of things that were fun, but not as instructive.
LH: We had to find some special moments to record certain sounds which are non-permanent. For example we have to wait until the dogs barked so we could record it.
What's your favorite moment in the story and why?
JH: It doesn´t come through as perfectly as I would have liked, but Lucho's encounter with a Peruvian woman was a good moment. I had been asking what his favorite sound was as we were walking and he said a woman's voice. Along came a senorita, we asked if she would talk to us, she said yes and Lucho's face just lit up. One of my students here in Lima, Jonathan Hunter, came along to help with the recording and take photos. He does a nice job of capturing Lucho's movement and expressions.
LH: When we went to a market place where we could record a combination of sounds which would express a rural kind of culture and the occidental culture on the other hand.