Interview with Sarah Burton, the voice of Buzzfeed’s “ASMR News Now”

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversitySarah Burton attended Penn State in Pennsylvania, USA and received a B.A. in Journalism, a B.A. in Political Science and a M.A. in Media Studies.

She is currently living in Brooklyn, New York where she performs improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade and is also a humor writer for Buzzfeed.

Sarah is also the voice behind the new Buzzfeed video series, “ASMR News Now”.

In these videos she reports the current headline news in a soft voice or whisper. The image which accompanies each headline story is on paper and placed gently in front of the camera with graceful hand movements.

Yes, this may be the most relaxing and tingle-inducing way to receive the news.

In my interview with Sarah she shares the inspiration for the series, how the series has been received, and another potential ASMR-related project.

Below are my questions in bold, her replies in italics, and links to her videos and more.

How long have you been interested in ASMR? Is it helpful to you in some way?

Sarah, “I first heard about ASMR on the Tribes episode of This American Life (http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/491/tribes). When I heard her describe it, I just thought, “oh my goodness, this is an actual thing? Other people experience this??”

I can remember getting the tingling sensation in class when I was in middle school and feeling very embarrassed. It was nice to know I had no reason to be! I was very excited to explore the different types. I particularly enjoy watching people fill out forms or complete mundane tasks.”

What inspired you to create the ASMR News Now video series?

Sarah, “Dorsey Shaw, who produces the program, actually came to me with the idea. He was tasked with creating news content, and he knew about my obsession with ASMR. He was basically like, “Could this work?” and I wanted to try it.”

How is the news content chosen? Do you try to avoid some stressful topics?

Sarah, “We go by the most talked about/important news of the day. We don’t try to avoid stressful topics, because if anything, ASMR is the best way to deliver stressful topics because it directly combats the stress.”

How do you think hearing the news this way may change the way the viewer experiences the news?

Sarah, “I hope it keeps them listening to new stories that might not fit neatly into soundbite culture.”

How have the videos been received?

Sarah, “We’ve gotten a lot of interest in it. In comments, people have really been enjoying them. We try to respond in time with their requests to be louder/softer.

It’s more interactive than ASMR on YouTube, so there are still a lot more places we can go. We’ve had interviews where people have assumed our ASMR approach is data-driven. It’s not… we’re experimenting. We don’t have the data yet.”

Do you have any particular ASMR artist or voice you try to channel when you record?

Sarah, “I watched a lot of the GentleWhispering channel on YouTube. But mostly, I’ve been taking my cues from audience response.”

Have you had to modify your technology or audio equipment to record these videos?

Sarah, “No, but I think the goal would be to have better equipment/technology. The most successful YouTube personalities all upgrade, and it really widens the scope of what you can do.”

Do you have any other ASMR-related projects or ideas that you are working on?

Sarah, “BuzzFeed Tasty and Food is experimenting with relaxing cooking sounds, which of course is starting to delve into ASMR territory.”

Click HERE to view an ASMR News Now video.

Click HERE to visit Sarah’s website.

Click HERE to follow Sarah on Twitter.

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This post brought to you by ASMR University.  A site with the mission of increasing the awareness, understanding, and research of the Art and Science of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.

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