Many years ago, I spent two weeks in Vancouver at a sort of book publishing boot camp. I can still trace most of what I know about the business of writing back to that workshop.
Well, I’ve just come through a slightly shorter, though possibly more intensive radio experience. My friend Andrew Leland (check out The Organist, McSweeney’s podcast — he produces it) and I are in the process of founding The Missouri Audio Project. We want to tell true stories using sound; to play, think, and allow people we find fascinating to speak for themselves and tell their own tales, in their own words. In short, we want to make audio CNF (creative nonfiction).
We’ve just launched our audio hopes and dreams with a six-day summer radio intensive workshop, August 2-8, 2015, here at the U of Missouri.
The workshop served as an intensive introduction to long-form audio storytelling. It was taught by radio guru Rob Rosenthal, currently the lead instructor of the Transom Story Workshop. Rob produces the HowSoundpodcast on audio storytelling for PRX (Public Radio Exchange). We hope to have him back and to open our workshop up to the public next summer! So, stay tuned.
Rob encouraged students to: focus on the story of one person; to look for action; to think about sound; and to think about what would compel listeners. He taught us the basics of recording, script-writing, and editing.
We also learned a thing or two about listening.
The workshop was life-changing: in a very short period of time, we learned a staggering amount. Rob is an amazing instructor: he inspires courage and confidence in his students. All of us (even the journalists amongst us) were working far outside our comfort zones and flying by the seat of our pants. All of us learned; all of us changed.
Over that crazy week of learning like I was 25 again, I produced my first radio piece. It’s about an extraordinary photographer named Shane Epping. You can listen to “Faye, in Pictures” here. It’s a sad, moving story told only through the human voice. Perhaps I’ll expand to other sounds soon, but this piece demanded simplicity.
I can’t wait to do more in sound. Radio on! (as Rob Rosenthal says…)