HowSound

By Rob Rosenthal/PRX/Transom.org

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Description

The Backstory to Great Radio Storytelling

Episode Date
Nuggets
17:35

I’m frequently asked, “What podcasts are you listening to?” Unfortunately, I’m usually stumped. The answer is, “Too many. I can’t remember them all.” In fact, I don’t seem to have allegiance to any one single podcast. My ears are all over the place, largely because I’m on the hunt for good work to feature on […]

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Apr 16, 2019
How Sruthi Tracks
15:29

At a school where I taught radio, in the mic booth, there was a photo of Studs Terkel hanging on the wall. Under it, someone wrote “Talk to Studs.” The picture was there to help with tracking. Narration will sound more conversational if you pretend you’re talking to Studs, the thinking went. After all, that’s […]

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Apr 02, 2019
An Editor’s Fingerprints
20:22

Editor Julia Barton starts her process at Revisionist History practically cold. “I might know generally that he [Malcom Gladwell, the host] is working on this or that,” Julia says. But, I haven’t seen the script until we’re all gathered in a room and we do what’s called a table read.” Julia has been a radio […]

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Mar 19, 2019
All The Sound We Can Not Hear
12:47

There’s a very cool sound in an episode of Here Be Monsters. The episode is called “The Bats that Stay,” and in the story Jeff Emtman, the producer, is on a hike with a couple of friends in Colorado. They’re climbing up to a cave nicknamed the Glory Hole in order to see the Mexican […]

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Mar 05, 2019
Two From The Road In Nashville
22:19

When students attend a Transom Traveling Workshop they lose sleep — and their minds. Don’t believe me? Look at the this drawing. Kristin Leong drew that graph. Kristin recently attended a workshop in Seattle at KUOW. On the ‘x’ axis, the days of the workshop. On the ‘y’ axis, Kristin’s mindset over the course of […]

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Feb 19, 2019
A Sonic Conjuring
11:42

Take a look at the photo above, the two strips of film from the collection at the Imperial War Museum in London. They document the sound of Armistice Day, the end of World War I, and the silencing of artillery. On the left, the war at full tilt a minute before the end of the […]

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Feb 05, 2019
Twitter Vox
11:38

Think back to September 2018. Christine Blasey Ford testified that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh attacked her decades prior. Doubting her testimony, President Trump tweeted that had Ford been attacked she would have reported it. The Twitterverse responded. #whyididntreport trended. People tweeted brief stories about why they hadn’t reported sexual assaults. The stories were poignant […]

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Jan 22, 2019
Taking Control Of The Music
21:11

I’ve begun to wonder if I wait too long to think about the exact music I’ll use to score a story. The first time I think about music comes as I’m reporting. I start wondering how to tell the story and scoring may come to mind. Nothing specific. Just an inkling music might be a […]

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Jan 08, 2019
Your Skull Is An Ear
15:14

In my classes at Transom, I talk about the fact that many disciplines inform radio stories. Picture, if you will, a sphere with many axes running through it. An axis for journalism and storytelling. Another for sociology and anthropology. Another for history. One for literature. And yet another representing sound art, and so on. A […]

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Dec 26, 2018
Making Sense Of A Pile Of Tape
20:22

It must be every radio producer’s dream — a pile of tape. Why? Because a pile of tape just might be a treasure trove of radio gold. Bianca Giaever says going through it “is sort of like a child going through Christmas presents.” Bianca should know. She’s a film maker and radio producer. A couple […]

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Dec 11, 2018
Enticing Listeners To Press Play Again
29:19

Writing the start of a story often feels like throwing my shoulder against a stuck door. I bang and I bang and I bang until the door opens. That opened door is liberating. I find that once my lede is in place I can write several pages — or at least until I get to […]

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Nov 27, 2018
These Are A Few Of My Favorite (Recent) Clips
18:28

A student once asked me “How do you find the stories you feature on HowSound?” I’m asked that a lot, actually. And, I’m sorry to say, I don’t have any secrets to reveal. I probably find stories and podcasts the same way everyone else does. Here’s my very quick and cursory list. I listen to […]

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Nov 13, 2018
You Just Won’t Know If You Don’t Ask
18:41

Jennifer Kingsley told me that just because you show up doesn’t mean there’s a story. She was referring to her documentary “Humans of the Arctic” for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In the doc, Jennifer travels the Arctic with no plan other than to interview people. That’s it. She interviews someone and asks “Who else should […]

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Oct 31, 2018
Fictional Sounds For A Fictional Story
22:07

Can I tell you how much of a pain in the tuckus it was to record a simple sound — the sound of me walking up a gangplank? What I thought was a ten-minute job took about forty minutes instead. Ridiculous. Let me paint the scene: It’s Sunday afternoon around 2 pm. I’m at a […]

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Oct 16, 2018
The Podcast Mindset: Part 2
20:35

Listening to Nocturne, a podcast about the night, I pictured Vanessa Lowe exploring corners of the dark with her microphone and a flashlight. I imagined she sometimes wore a headlamp so she could record her nighttime stories more easily. There she is, I’d dream up in my mind, stepping quietly, eyes and ears wide open, […]

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Oct 02, 2018
The Podcast Mindset: Part 1
28:43

This summer, I went to mow the lawn and the mower wouldn’t start. I tried and tried. Nothing. I checked the gas. Fine. I checked the oil. Fine. So, I pulled the chord again and again. Still nothing. I looked on-line for solutions. A few websites suggested spraying starter fluid into the carburetor. I watched […]

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Sep 18, 2018
Color Notes
12:41

A school bell. A siren. Traffic. An airplane. Crickets. An opening door . . . These sounds are known as “signature sounds.” You know what they are as soon as you hear them. To be honest, I don’t know what the opposite of a “signature sound” is except that it’s a sound that doesn’t stand […]

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Sep 05, 2018
Three Stories, Marfa Style
29:14

At Transom Traveling Workshops, we throw students into the deep end. It’s sort of like “Here’s your gear. Go swim.” The workshop assignment is this: In just a week, produce a profile of an interesting person that lives near the workshop. The thing that makes them interesting has to make sound. In other words, no […]

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Aug 21, 2018
Story Endings
12:40

What is this drive we seem to have, this built-in, seemingly innate desire to end stories on an up-note? The proverbial “happy ending.” Neat. Tidy. And, most importantly, positive and hopeful. The internet abounds with theories about why we yearn for “happy endings.” I’ll pile on (though, I’m sure I’m not the first to think […]

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Aug 07, 2018
Anatomy Of A Scene
20:01

The word “scene” is used all the time when discussion audio storytelling. “Do you have any scenes for your story?” “What’s the opening scene?” “Oh, man, I recorded some good scene tape today!” But, what is a scene? In short, think of it as a chapter, a section of a story that typically has active […]

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Jul 24, 2018
A Rockin’ Start
14:30

Maybe it’s because I love the song. It’s a musical detonation and an f-you to dad. “A primitive howl in the face of all that is proper and refined,” as David Weinberg puts it. And so, maybe that’s why I’m so keen on the opening to David’s documentary about the song. I mean, it’s “Louie […]

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Jul 10, 2018
Three Student Stories Produced In Only A Week
21:38

Again and again and again and again, I’m stunned by the solid work produced by students in Transom’s Traveling Workshops. These are week-long workshops held around the country. Frankly, under the circumstances, there’s no reason for the pieces students make to be good. The week-long workshops move at lightening speed. In that short time, students […]

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Jun 26, 2018
Hang A Picture In Front Of The Mic
13:58

Every now and then, Susan Stamberg says “Aww, the heck with it.” The art she’d like to report on is too complicated to explain on the radio because of the lack of visuals. In fact, Susan says it’s always a challenge to report on the visual arts. But that doesn’t stop her. Over the years, […]

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Jun 12, 2018
25th Anniversary Of “Ghetto Life 101”
43:32

I remember Claire Holman waving the CD and saying “We should definitely listen to this tonight!” Claire was the director of Blunt Youth Radio in Portland, Maine. I was her assistant back in the late 1990s. We were headed to a meeting with the high school reporters we worked with and we always started those […]

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May 29, 2018
Recording Binaurally
18:59

Trust me. You should wear headphones for this episode of HowSound and any of the audio on this page. Some years ago, I traveled to Newfoundland, hiking and eating not-so-great food — though, the pan-fried capelin from Ha Ha Bay were amazing! A highlight of the trip was kayaking around icebergs near Hay Cove at […]

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May 15, 2018