Summary: The Backstory to Great Radio Storytelling, hosted by Rob Rosenthal, for Transom and PRX.
Why is it so hard to sound like yourself when reading narration for radio stories? Transom's Viki Merrick offers some voicing coaching gold. You'll wanna take notes.
After teaching documentary storytelling for seventeen years, I feel confident in the advice I give students, most of the time. But, as soon as someone brings up sound design, I’m flummoxed. I feel like my advice is next to useless. Typically, what happens is this: a student feels like their story is boring so they want to throw some sound in — something from a sound effects library. They think it will make the story more dynamic. And, typically, I respond by saying, “If your story is boring, write better. Or, play around with the structure. Or, find better quotes. Don’t expect to solve a problem by tossing in some sound. It will end up sounding cheesy.” I do think that’s solid advice. But, in reality, there are times when a bit of sound design might actually help a story. Not to make it less boring, but to drive home a point or help the story be more visual. That’s when I return to my problem as an instructor: I don’t know how to help. But here’s the good news. I produce a podcast about audio storytelling and I can actually ask people for advice! And so, I did. My first stop was Matthew Boll. Matt works at Gimlet as a lead producer and music composer. Of particular interest to me was his work on Crimetown, a podcast on crime and politics in Providence, Rhode Island, that uses a lot of sound design. Matt and I covered quite a bit of ground but I feel like I’ve only started to understand how sound design works. So, consider this the first in an ongoing, from time-to-time, set of episodes on sound design that will appear over the next few months.
With the glut of first-person stories these days, how do you make yours stand out? Neil Sandell has some ideas.
Producer Samantha Broun and This American Life's Christopher Swetala join me to talk about fact-checking "A Life Sentence" on this episode of HowSound.
If you have one day to produce a story for KCRW's 24-Hour Radio Race, reach for low hanging fruit, right? Not if your Esther Honig. On this episode, Esther recounts how she and her team produced an emotionally difficult story for the race in 2015 -- and won! An inspiration to sign up for this year's race.
Filmmaker Tally Abecassis learned a lot about audio storytelling when she jumped in the deep end & started producing "First Day Back." The lessons she learned are useful for filmmakers thinking of producing audio stories -- & radio producers, too.
Irish radio producer Ronan Kelly has a great ear for compelling radio. He plays story DJ on this archive episode of HowSound from 2010.
I was so nervous talking to Ashley Ahearn the producer of KUOW's new podcast about the environment "terrestrial." I should have been. I asked her about her appearance.
Sook-Yin Lee describes the combination of improvisation and structure that informs the production of Sleepover, a hit podcast from the CBC.
Sometimes, pitching a story is the last thing you want to do. Just press record and see what happens. Jay Allison is the guest on this episode of HowSound.
"Live like the truth is true and go where love has not yet arrived." Words Al Letson of Reveal lives by, especially when interviewing a racist.
Heed Arwen Nicks' warnings. Arwen explains when a good idea for a podcast is really a terrible idea for a podcast.
Never say to yourself: "I'll fix it in the mix." Fixing recording mistakes in the studio can lead to more problems. Instead, prevent issues before they happen. Rob Byers, from NPR's Training Team has tips for avoiding basic, pesky recording problems.
Rachel Matlow had a head slappingly simple idea: make a conversation out of the interviews she recorded with her mom after her mom died. But, simple it was not. Rachel explains the backstory on her Third Coast award-winning doc.
The series "Seeing White" is essential listening. John Biewen reports on whiteness and white people for his podcast "Scene on Radio."