November 20th, 2002

71 Comments on “Beginnings”

  • Jay Allison says:
    This Topic

    This Topic is for general discussion of whatever accumulates in our Beginnings Section.

  • Andy Knight says:

    Great new section, Jay, and of course, what better way to start it than with Whitney Pastorek. I can’t wait for the next installment, Whitney. So, when can we expect Part 3? And are you thinking, or in the process, of making another radio piece? I know that you’re already busy with your duties as the Editor of Pindeldyboz, directing various stage productions, participating in literary festivals, and somehow managing to write, get terribly sick and hold down a job or two, but we are a demanding sort here. Or at least I am, but you already knew that.

  • whitney pastorek says:

    Um, I’m thinking Part 3 should show up sometime after Thanksgiving. And I am thinking about what my next radio piece could be (aren’t I, Jay?). And I KNOW you’re demanding, Andy. I’m working on it, babe. What should I do a radio piece about? What are the great undiscovered frontiers? And when are YOU going to do a radio piece?

  • Andy Knight says:

    What should you do it on? I think an interview with your dad, like This, This or This, would be great. Either that, or a story on the guy who deals drugs out of an ice cream truck in front of your apartment.

    As for me, I have no less than 9 stories all edited up and ready to go, but I’m more than a little hyper critical of them, so I have a little rule: Only submit things when I am drunk. Which becomes a bit of a problem because A) Stamps are hard to use while drunk, and B) I always sober up before the postman comes, and C) I haven’t gone drinking in over 4 months. So, there you go. I’ll send them in once I develop a proper drinking problem.

  • Nice piece, Whitney. I look forward to Part III. You mentioned that you had a freshman student helping you out. I assume this means you are a teacher or professor? Please say more about how you pulled this off while working a full-time gig. Where there some scheduling issues? Did you take a day off work for the interview?

  • whitney pastorek says:

    Hi Arabella. The interview itself was on a Saturday, which was the only time the Stripes were available. My job at the time was very flexible– I was one of the directors of a theater school at NYU– and so I basically just made sure all my work at the office was done and then went AWOL for three days to get the piece finished. Since then, my job has gotten a heck of a lot more flexible, since my boss decided I was spending too much time on outside projects and kinda fired me. Whoops.

    Was the trade-off worth it? YES. Plus, then my boss rehired me part-time because she realized that no one else in the office knew how to do some of the things I did. Did you want to hear this whole story?

  • If there’s more to the story, please go on!

  • whitney pastorek says:

    Oh, no. That was it, really. Fired, replaced by best friend (oh, did I leave that part out?), rehired part time. And somehow, mystically, I ended up with a bigger office. Amazing.

  • Robert Wright says:
    Two Stories

    There are two stories here, both of them good ones.

    There’s the story of how somebody with no experience produced a great radio piece.

    And there’s this other story–the radio debut of an extraordinary talent. It’s like being in the NPR studio that weekend when Scott Carrier walked in with his tapes and said, "How do I edit these?" I have the strong feeling that this is the beginning of some great radio.

  • whitney pastorek says:

    My god, Robert. You’re like the nicest person ever.

    I do want everyone to know that all of this is Andy Knight’s fault. He’s the one who got me in touch with Jay in the first place. Credit where credit is due. Hi, Andy.

  • Viki Merrick says:
    Andy’s wardrobe

    is there anything Transom HASN"T sent you Andy ? How about a tape recorder loaner, how about WE get drunk before we listen to what awaits in the wings of ANDY"S DEBUT.

  • Andy Knight says:

    Oh, no tape recorders, unless it’s one that is shaped like the Transom mascot, or if it is just really comically large, to the point where it needs a specially designed golf cart to haul it around, but has a really tiny mic. Otherwise, I’ve got my own minidisc setup and it suits me just fine. As far as shirts, I have the short sleeved white one and the long sleeved blue one. I’m waiting for Transom jeans to hit the market, or a Transom dustbuster or lunchbox. And Transom boxers would make the perfect Valentines gift, but not for me because I’m planning on my next girlfriend to be the fiercely jealous type.

    Now, what I could really use are some opposable big toes. How could we lose that!? That’s something that I’d trade a kidney for. This is all Darwin’s fault.

    Now we can get back to Beginnings! Whitney, say I wanted to interview a big famous band. Say this band has two Johns and three Dans in it. Now, forget that part because it isn’t really relevant. Not having someone doing publicity for them as a close friend, how would I go about setting this up? Because my quaint combination of stalking them and informing them of my odd dreams about them, involving one of the Johns biting my nose, hasn’t really been working all that well.

  • whitney pastorek says:

    Now, Andy. If you are talking about the band I think you’re talking about, you Know that you Know like seven THOUSAND people who Know them, or Know someone who Knows them! They’re not out of reach for you at ALL. I think what you would need to do is put together a pitch for the band, of why you want to interview them (besides quaint stalking) and decide where you want the piece to go, and then start getting in touch with all the people you Know who Know someone who Knows them. And then once you’ve convinced the band to sit down with you for a bit, you could either put together the whole piece yourself and try to sell it already made, or you could start calling around to editors and such and telling them that you have the opportunity to sit down with that particular band.

    But I think this all depends on your angle, because hasn’t that band been interviewed, like, a billion times for public radio? You’d have to come up with something new.

  • Andy Knight says:

    Ok, yes, I have the contacts, not that I’d want to use them, and the angles. But I was asking not for myself but for the people who are diving in without the benefit of having contacts. When it comes to interviewing bands/celebs, is it "have the contacts or forget about it" or do you think that people have other routes to gain contacts?

    Granted, some are easier than others… and some just take a bit of luck. There is one comic I met in the 90′s just by calling the business line for the venue and asking for the publicist’s number. Then I called the publicist and was lucky enough to get someone who didn’t ask questions. So, I was able to get an all access backstage+photo pit pass to take pictures with no connections to any publication, though I did wind up soaked with smashed watermelons for my trouble.

  • Kate Sweeney says:
    pitching a story

    Hey, there.
    Really liked the White Stripes piece! Also like–no, *adore*–The White Stripes, and was psyched to hear that piece on them on the radio.

    Thanks also, for the advice on pitching a story. I’m about to do the same, and was unsure whether there’s some sort of set-and-fast template–Your piece helps tremendously.

  • Jordana Hochman says:
    whitney p., please answer me

    I’m new to talking online and asking virtual strangers for advice but here goes. Also I’m writing to Whitney, or someone like her, new-to-it-all and without lots of fandangled tech-speak under her belt. I want to get starting, Whitney you’ve inspired me, and I want to know what to use. I want to know what a relative beginner buys. I’ve been reading the tool archives, and I’ve narrowed it down to this: definitely a minidisc, but a Sony MZR700 or MZR900? Or maybe a Sharp MD-MT877? Are all compatible with my OS 9 (soon to be OS X) G3 ibook? Perhaps I should be writing in a different section, but please help. And since I did address this to Whitney, right on girl. Great piece, and enough to give me a kick in the ass out of reclusion.

  • whitney pastorek says:

    Oh, Jordana, you are definitely asking on the wrong thread! I am no technical whiz, and actually just got a minidisc recorder myself– but I got it free from my super-rich boss who decided she didn’t need it anymore (???) and so now it’s mine. It’s an MZR70, which maybe is one generation older than what you’re talking about, and I like it fine. I think what’s more important than that, maybe, is to make sure you’ve got a good microphone. Check out what these fine Transom folk have to say about that– there’s an essay about what you need in your "kit" over in the Tools section and it gives you options based on what you want to spend.

    I’ll tell you what I DID buy that has really paid off: an MBox. It’s this amazing little thing that lets me pull sound off of virtually anything and get it digitally into my computer so I can edit it with ProTools. It was a little pricey, but has totally paid for itself, since I’ve used it for the NPR piece and for theatrical sound design stuff, too.

    But seriously, I’m a total technophobe, and numbers make my head hurt… even, like, model numbers. Go over to the Tools Help thread– the people in there are really knowledgeable.

    Glad to hear you’re going to get off your ass, though!

    And Kate: thanks for the nice words– you get off your ass, too! Everyone! Off your ass!

    And finally, Andy (and anyone else who’s interested): I am a firm believer that, with the right phone numbers, you can talk your way into anything. All you need is the teeniest bit of information and a lot of confidence, and people will listen to you, and maybe offer you what you want. I say to anyone: go for it. I also think that unless it’s U2 or something, there aren’t a lot of bands out there who are going to turn down free publicity, even if they can only give you 15 minutes of their time. But it never, ever hurts to ask.

    Come to think of it: anyone have Bono’s phone number?

  • Andy Knight says:

    Bono’s not in the phone book?

    Jordana, compatibility isn’t really an issue with the minidisc itself. There is only one way you’re going to get audio from a consumer MD to a hard drive, and that’s through analog inputs. Check your iBook for a "line in" port. If you don’t have one, or if you want a better one, you’ll need a USB Audio Interface.. like Whitney’s super cool MBox.

    What you will have to worry about, as far as compatibility is concerned, is with your Audio Application. If you plan on using PT Free, hold off on OSX until a version of PT Free comes out that is compatible with it.

    Which Minidisc is a matter of taste. I prefer the Sharps because of the on-the-fly level control changes. But that’s me.

  • Jay Allison says:
    what to buy

    Here’s a thing I wrote for Whole Earth Review that hasn’t been published yet. May as well post it here for now. Josh will find a place to put it in TOOLS soon.



    Radio Journalism Production Tools

    (DRAFT for Whole Earth Review,
    derived from an email to Kevin Kelly, Summmer 2002)

    So you want to make a story for radio?

    The first tool I’d recommend is the public radio website, which covers a spectrum of Tools, Ideas and Practices. You’ll find recommendations for new gear there, but more than that, you find new voices and new ways of telling. It’s a performance space and master class with the likes of Studs Terkel, Sarah Vowell, Norman Corwin, Scott Carrier and lots of others. We’re quite proud of it (it comes from our non-profit group in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Atlantic Public Media) and it’s having a positive impact in public broadcasting. Check it out:

    As for gear, many people are using the small mini-disc recorders in the field these days. The portable mini-discs are teeny and cheap, but honestly I feel that’s their weakness. They break. Their tiny mic inputs get stressed. Humidity hurts them. If you want to hear something heretical in the digital age, I often still use an old analog cassette recorder, the venerable Sony TC-D5M, available used on EBAY; it is even repairable. It runs on D-Cells and is not subject to digital gremlins. It sounds quite sweet, if somewhat noisy compared to the silent sheen of digital, and I can almost ALWAYS RELY ON IT. I use portable DAT recorders too, but the best, the HHB, uses rechargeable batteries which, like all rechargeables, are inherently evil and programmed by the devil to fade at the moment they are needed most. I personally do not use Minidisc recorders, but they sound good for the money, which is why lots of people love them and, so… okay, I would recommend them for a good first machine. The model numbers change, but the Sony and Sharp units are the most popular, with the Sharp often preferred for their more flexible volume controls. And, HHB makes a really good but really expensive one. For specific mini-disc recorders, check the latest recommendations at

    For an all-purpose interview mic, I’d pick the Beyer M58. It’s a dynamic omni with a long handle for getting in CLOSE to the speaker’s mouth, which is REQUIRED FOR RADIO. It represents a good balance between sweet sound and indestructibility. Yes, it’s a bit expensive, but you won’t grow out of it. A cheaper alternative would be the Audio-Technica AT804. You need a windscreen for the mic, a set of headphones (Walkman-style will do), and the proper XLR-miniplug cable to connect the mic with the mini-disc recorder. The best cable has a right-angle plug which doesn’t stress the delicate input. Sonic Studios makes nice custom cables. In fact, their website sells a variety of portable rigs, configured and ready to go, plus lots of good advice for recordists. Check and a similar vendor

    Finally, I’d say the most remarkable new tool is Digidesign’s ProTools. ProTools is editing and mixing software. It replaces many bulky and expensive items of yesteryear, like the reel-to-reel tape recorders we used to edit on with razor blades (a lost and lovely skill), the multi-track machines and mixers which blended our sounds, the various outboard signal processing devices which improved the audio. Now it all comes in a little box for a few hundred bucks. Anyone raised around computers will get the hang of it quickly. It’s powerful stuff. Of course, you still have to have talent, smarts, and a good ear. Digital technology hasn’t changed that.

    Digidesign has a free version, ProTools Free, which is just enough to get you hooked and make you want to move on to the hard stuff… which is NOT free, but still just a fraction of what it would have been only a few years ago for this kind of power in a digital audio workstation. It works best on the Mac.

    With ProTools Free you can get sound in and out of a computer in the analog realm using inexpensive devices like the Griffin Technology iMic. Keeping it digital, however, can be tricky. There are lots of work-arounds that will get you started for little money (check the discussion boards), but if you’re at all serious, you’ll be happier spending the few hundred bucks for the commercial ProTools package, which includes a hardware interface (it’s like an external audio card) allowing you make both digital and analog connections easily. Their MBox package is the cheapest of these – at about $450, with the fully enabled software included. One thing: the interface must be connected to your computer in order for the commercial version of ProTools to work.

    So, a good setup is an inexpensive portable mini-disk recorder, a Beyer M58 mic, the Digidesign MBox as the interface between the gear, with ProTools software installed on any recent Mac, even an iBook. An external firewire many-gigabyte drive is recommended but not necessary. This package gives you all the digital/analog ins and outs, plus astonishing editing/mixing/processing tools for creating fully professional stories or music. Burn a CD or rip an MP3 when you’re done, and share with the multitudes. At, you’ll find youngsters and oldsters who are doing exactly this and are getting their stories on public radio. It’s a step in the direction of citizen access to mainstream media, when most steps are headed in the opposite direction.

    -Jay Allison

    $450 from

    Beyer M58 microphone
    Audio-Technica AT804 mic

    Mini-disc Recorder

    Griffin Technology iMic

    XLR to 3.5mm TRS Mini cable (and other accessories) 

    ProTools Free
    Free download at

    Current reviews of mini-discs

  • whitney pastorek says:

    Hey, that’s a great article, Jay!

  • Jordana Hochman says:

    Ditto on the great article, Jay. Every single question I had–answered in a flash. I’d been copying and pasting messages from the tool section with charts of comparisons from other websites into a word document, but it was all so piecey. Now here it is, every last bit of information I’m looking for in a single blow. wow.

    As for the sonicstudios site, it is helpful once you get past the initial visual barrage of it. It kind of reminds me of a monster truck show. But still helpful, thank you.

    And Whitney, you’ve done it again. I too am a girl who balks at long number sequences. And praise for you Andy–I appreciate the straightforward simplicity of your advice. Honestly, it’s helpful.

  • hal says:
    Beginnings – every day, beginnings

    Hell Jay, etal.

    It’s been a while since I tapped into the Transom wealth of information. But this discussion of beginnings has my attention, much like the Robert Krulwich session did.

    While learning to fly I was asked by a friend how long I had been at it. I had my pilot’s license but was still learning. I told him how many hours I had logged and proudly told him how many landings I had successfully completed (a successful landing is one you can walk away from). He said "if you still know how many times you’ve landed the plane, you’re not a real pilot." It made me angry and I think he was wrong.

    To date i’ve had 6 stories on the air (5 local and one on Only a Game. If you happen to feel the desire to check it out, go to and look for the Loretta Lynns Fall Fun Ride – Dirt Bikes on the radio).

    I have to tell you, I feel like i’m flying. One day I may forget the exact number of stories but It won’t necessarily make me a better reporter, story teller, or independent producer. My point is, we’re all beginning.

    If it weren’t for Transom, I would never have seen air date number one. For the longest time I lurked, not at all unlike my refrigerator is lurking right now. But when I finally asked my first question here on Transom (a question to one of my hero’s, Robert Krulwich) it amazed me at how helpful everyone here is. So, I say to everyone here: use this tool. As Jay says, it’s the first tool. Even if you just lurk and gain knowledge and a sense of confidence, lurk and lurk well my friends.

    That’s all from this beginner.

    Hal Humphreys
    Nashville, TN

  • hal says:
    Bono’s phone number

    My wife just spend an afternoon at a world AIDS conference here in Nashville, TN. You’ll never guess who she got to interview….Bono.
    (Okay, so it was a press conference but she was within 5 feet of the man and boy was she psyched.)

    Jay, I have a question. Does Protools LE ever allow you to load it onto a second computer, say a laptop, without having to have the hardware and soundcard provided by Digidesign?

    Hal Humphreys
    always beginning

  • Jay Allison says:
    that’s how they get you

    ProTools LE needs to have an MBox or other Digidesign hardware device hooked up to whatever machine you’re using it on.

    You can transfer files between LE and ProTools Free, but it requires some fiddling. Check Barrett Golding’s and Jeff Towne’s notes on this which are somewhere on the TOOLS page.

  • Jay Allison says:
    Jeff found it.

    Jeff Towne posted a note to the AIR Daily list just now, giving the URL to the bootleg technique for running PT Free and LE on the same machine, as discovered by Barrett Golding. It’s response 192 in the "Ask Jeff" topic here:

    Jeff Towne "Ask Jeff: Questions from the Transom Tools Column" 6/4/02 01:33am

  • Robert Wright says:
    Water with small amounts of urea and salts

    I thought the White Stripes piece was exceptionally good but I had no idea it required so much work.

    Gosh, when I heard it, I just thought it was all genius and grace, not perspiration.

    A few questions:

    1. How did Whitney transfer the minidisc to the DAT?

    2. What mic did she get for Christmas? (Assuming she’s been good.)

    3. What is she going to do with it?

  • whitney pastorek says:

    Hi, Robert. First of all, let me say that I did NOT get a microphone for Christmas. Oh Santa! Why have you forsaken me?

    As for the minidisc-DAT transfer, I just hooked up to the output of the minidisc and the input of the DAT and transferred it. I had to go online and find the manual for the DAT player at about 3am to make this happen, but I swear this internet thing is just brilliant and I was able to come up with everything I needed…

    I know that’s not very specific. And I can’t remember why I couldn’t just hook it up to the MBox, but I know I had a good reason at the time…

  • Andy Knight says:

    Whitney, screw the NPR Cultural Desk and all the nonsense about narration and theme and focus statement and experts and crowds and "another dimension of the story." If you were given the freedom to do this again, however you wanted– without the restrictions of the nice neat little boxes the ironically-named Cultural desk invented, and without concern for the concept that you need to provide a reason why this shouldn’t be a host interview instead of your interview– with the only restriction being the 5 minute length; How would you have used this time?

    I’m asking because I think the management at the "Cultural Desk" should have been fired years ago. They have turned an interview between a passionate fan with a passionate band and used their formulas to turn it into a REPORT with as much passion as the latest REPORT on John Poindexter. This has been their stock and trade for far too long. Take the interviewer out of the interview, toss in an expert, find a "theme" and write a script for the narrator.

    I mean, listen to it, Whitney. They’ve turned you from being a fantastic storyteller and a fantastic interviewer into a REPORTER. They have you agreeing that you should have asked them about being husband and wife! Really?!

    Yes, this report was good, and you did a good job as a reporter, but is that what you wanted?

  • Jay Allison says:

    We at Transom are interested, too, in what Whitney would do and say on her own, given the chance.

    This was an important exercise, because something actually GOT DONE and on the air nationally. Whitney came to understand (and subsequently explain) the requirements of working editorially with an organization like NPR.

    NPR has a style and a set of standards, for better or worse. Transom feels, obviously, that the style is a bit restrictive for such a big country and world. I am much more interested in the style of the Whitney who wrote this Transom piece than the Whitney who appeared at the end of the public radio editorial process.

    So, we hope Whitney will be taking all that she learned in that process and find another subject to tell about in her own way, making a piece for Transom in her own way, and that we can all continue to work with public radio to include more ways of telling.

  • whitney pastorek says:

    Hi Andy. Thanks for bullying me back over here to respond to this. I wasn’t ignoring you, I swear.

    Ok. So the Whitney who appeared on NPR was not very much Whitney. I agree with that. But I also wasn’t going to take that opportunity to try and revolutionize radio, or to fight the system, or whatever– because I had NO idea what I was doing. None. So if you’re Alyne Ellis, and you’ve got me, the Queen of Ignorance, working for you, I think you’ve got to make things as simple and straightforward as possible, working within the format at hand. Frankly, it didn’t even occur to me to try and spice things up too much. A lot of changes got made based on, Well, that’s not good journalism or, Well, you can’t just SAY that, you’ve got to back it up somehow. There weren’t too many instances where I wrote something and she said, My god, you just can’t DO that!!!

    Now, looking back I can say, sure, there were a million other things I could have done– but I’ve really been having a hard time trying to come up with an articulate answer to this question. Because the piece wouldn’t even EXIST if the Cultural Desk hadn’t picked it up, and I never would have thought to do it. Ever. In a million years. So I guess it’s hard to look at the forces who made this possible and say that those forces were BAD, or, like, kept me down or something, because I didn’t know which end was up.

    When I do this next thing that I’m working on (I’m working, Jay, I swear), I’m sure it will reflect much more of me, of my sense of humor, of my lack of discretion, my oblivion when it comes to what you can and cannot ask or say or reply, blur the line a little more between interviewer and interviewee, get rid of all format, be random and scattershot– much like any conversation with me tends to be.

    But I guess I wanted to see what would happen if I put two opposing forces– NPR and the White Stripes– together, and I guess we found out. You get a pretty standard interview with one or two non-standard moments. But at least it got on the radio, and somewhere, a little old blue haired lady dropped her tea when they kicked into "Fell In Love With A Girl" at 8 in the morning. And that was really all I was looking for. That, and tickets to the show. Which I got.

    There was one moment, Andy, where I did something I wasn’t supposed to (if this makes you feel any better):

    When I was going through those quotes from fans, my favorite one was the guy who yells, "They’re like Zeppelin meets…." and then turns to his friend and yells, "Who are they meeting?" and his friend yells, "What?" Because that just sums up the whole White Stripes hype so perfectly. Anyway. It was in the long version, and it was one of the quotes Alyne asked me to take out. But I liked it so much, I just left it in and cut something else and hoped she wouldn’t notice. And she didn’t, so it’s there, and every time I hear it I giggle.

    Sorry, Alyne.

  • Anaheed Alani says:

    I totally remember that quote. I liked it, too.

  • Fayrene Smith says:

    Me too, Anaheed. That was the part where I giggled a little and said "Yay Whitney!"

  • whitney pastorek says:

    Oh, hi Anaheed! Hi Fayrene! I really appreciate your comments. Ah, my public. Please, no need to applaud. Just send blenders.

  • Andy Knight says:

    Hmmm, Jay, do you guys have Transom blenders yet? And shouldn’t Jeff be working on a Transom solid state field recorder?

    So, Whitney, now that you have all this time on your hands, will you be throwing together a fan version of the White Stripes interview? Please don’t hurt me.

  • whitney pastorek says:

    What time on my hands are you referring to, exactly, Andy dear? I’m going to hit you. Seriously, if I didn’t think you’d like it so much, I would hit you.

  • Anaheed Alani says:

    Secret message to Whitney and Andy: GET A ROOM.

  • whitney pastorek says:

    Secret message to Anaheed: quit meddling, woman!

  • Andy Knight says:

    Secret message to Anaheed: Hey, baby!

  • Richard Brumfield says:

    I was listening to a broadcast of "This American Life", on Sunday, March 09,2003. The theme of the show was "Starting from scratch". It was a wonderfully funny theme…especially the one by Jonathan Goldstein, "When the creator of the universe starts from scratch". If anyone out their who is reading this can e-mail me on how to track down that transcript or a copy of it, please let me know.

    R. Brumfield

  • Andy Knight says:

    If anyone has a transcript, it would be Jonathan Goldstein himself. Lucky you, he happens to be this month’s special guest. Also, you’ll find some This American Life boards HERE.

  • Ron McCarty says:
    Starting From Scratch

    I’m looking also – let me know if you find it.

  • ryan st.germain says:
    pro tools

    I want to be a pro tools user

  • Janice Wilde says:
    The White Stripes drummer’s real name,age, and hometown!

    "MEG WHITE’s real name is Elizabeth Anne Cox! Her real birthdate is August 27, 1955, which would make her 47 years OLD!!! She was born in Hyannis MA,(check birth records). Look for her high school yearbook at Braintree,MA,High school!(Class of ’73)She Partied at Ithaca College(Class of 1977)Check out that yearbook,as well!!

  • whitney pastorek says:

    Wow, thanks, Janice. Have you told "Access Hollywood"? I bet you could make a BUNDLE!

  • Isaiah Thompson says:
    Contributors Wanted

    This message will be appearing throughout the site, so, I don’t know, if you don’t like it, well, don’t read it anymore.

    Hello Transom folks:

    Here’s the short of it: my name is Isaiah. I have a radio show coming up in the Fall on Madison Wisconsin’s WSUM 91.7 — it’s an evening show, during the talk stuff; listenership small, but not that small; distance range small, but either it’ll be on the web or I’ll put it on the web (therefore it will be on the web).

    I want your contributions. Send me things you’ve put together (if you can’t email them, email me and we’ll work it out so that you upload them or something), and, if I want to, I’ll put them on the radio and post it on the web. It’s good for me, because frankly I will have to work very very hard for this show to be any good (it’ll be good)and so I need help, and good for you becuase your stuff can be on the radio.

    I’m quite serious about all of this and the show starts in a few weeks, so email me if you’re interested. I will be on a bike trip around Lake Superior for a little while, so don’t fret if I take a while to get back to you. Also, I’m happy to give suggestions for material if you like.

    Okay, I have to see if my bike actually works.

    Isaiah Thompson

  • whitney pastorek says:
    Hey Lauren!!

    Hey, if your name is Lauren something, and you’re reading this, and you just emailed me with a question a couple days ago after reading the White Stripes thing… email me again! My computer crashed over the weekend and I lost your email. I am not ignoring you. Come back! Lauren! Lauren?

  • Kate Sowdon says:

    hope you don’t mind, but found you while searching the net…my gg-grandfather was Isaiah Thompson, born 1844 in Vermont. Thought there might be a connection….

    Happy Holidays,
    Kate Sowdon

  • Kathy Sowdon says:

    Are you the Kate Sowdon who has been in contact with my niece Vicki Raidburn?

  • Jerry Grulkey says:
    Romance on a High Wheel Bicycle

    Romance on a High Wheel Bicycle
    By Jerry Grulkey, Vallejo, Cal.

    One of the benefits from riding my antique bicycles is that it attracts the attention of the fairer sex! You may ask, how do I know this.

    I met my true love because of my "wheel", as I always call it. (This is the term that was used when high wheel bikes were popular, 1877-92.)

    One day, after about a thirty-mile ride, I decided that I would treat myself to a visit to Swensen’s Old Fashion Ice Cream parlor in San Pablo, California.

    It was getting late in the day of that warm, sunny July 5th, back in ’77, the sky glowing a pleasant pink. As I was idly pedaling my huge antique iron stead along the venue that led to this establishment of frozen delight, I looked up and there, smiling at me, was the most beautiful young lady I had ever seen. She was gazing out the window at my manly riding prowess, which had caught her glances. I swear to this day, I dismounted off the pedal of my old ’85 Expert 58", as smoothly as I had ever done before or since. Taking off my gloves and cap, I walked in and ordered a "Cherry Phosphate".

    I could not believe how flirtatious she was. She even worked into our conversation how much she loved bicycles, and going on rides, etc. She was impressed that the bike I was riding was almost 100 years old. Cleverly she told me that her friends, when they come into the ice cream parlor say, “Sandy can you make this,” and “Sandy can you make me that”. She confided in me months later, that she gushed to her co-worker Mark in the back of the shop, swooning that she was in love, whereupon he said rather dejectedly, “Yeah, I figured so!” (He told me later, he secretly had a crush on her, but lacked the courage to ask her out.) When I left she even touched my shoulder and said for me to come back again real soon. It was love at first sight for both of us. My old “Expert” literally floated back to my house. (Twenty-seven years later we’re still together and I haven’t stopped loving her for an instant.)

    A few days later I went back for a second helping of ice cream, hoping she would be there, (she says it was weeks) but sadly, it was her day off! Fortunately when I asked Mark, he said that he wasn’t supposed to tell anyone her work schedule, but if I came in the next day, she’d be there.

    The next day was one of great anticipation to ask her out for a date. I could hardly sleep a wink that night dreaming about her. We talked over ice cream Sundaes and I asked for her phone number. When we got to my car, the only thing I had to write on was someone’s business card. I tore it in half, wrote my number on it and she wrote her number on her piece and drew little stars around it! (We both still have them.)

    For our first outing I packed a picnic lunch consisting of crab salad sandwiches that I made, and marinated tomato wedges, served on matching place settings and tablecloth. We shared bottle of white Tuscany wine, poured into crystal glasses from a little green bottle shaped like a fish,. This was put up neatly in a wicker basket carried on my 1898 Victor Bicycle built for two. We rode this around the green of a local antique car show. I was in heaven sitting on that lawn, staring into those deep beautiful blue eyes and watching that cute winsome smile, as she laughed at my stories of high wheel adventures. She latter told me that crab was her favorite and that she had never had anyone fix a picnic lunch for her. The Victor gay 90’s bicycle built for two, steered from the rear. I’ll never forget as long as I live, the sun shining through her long blond beautiful tresses, flowing in the breeze, as we merrily pedaled along, she riding in front and me guiding our way from behind.

    Appropriately, she wore a large brimmed straw hat and long dress in her favorite old-fashion design, a style of which latter I learned was her secret passion.

    I told her that I had an extra high wheel bicycle in her size and asked if she would like to learn ride the wheel? She enthusiastically said yes. Later when I showed her the basic mounting technique, she hopped right on. (Sadly she did take a little sider on the first attempt at dismounting, but that didn’t stop Sandy Ruff.) How handsome she looked on that Singer high wheeler of mine. With her impressive riding display, I grabbed my old 58” Columbia and away we went on about a three-mile trek. I can still remember to this day, that first ride together. I didn’t need to be on a high bicycle to have my head in the clouds that day. Cupid had sunk it’s arrow deep in my heart and nothing could pull it out.

    Given a little time and experience this willing pupil became an expert rider learning to coast “legs over handles” performing the most daring feat of riding I’ve ever witnessed. We were coasting at a pretty good clip down Mc Phearson’s Grade, on the original route Thomas Stevens took in 1884, and to my horror, she didn’t make the turn like I did. Her only choice was to crash into a barbed wire fence or ride into a 15′ ditch. Luckily she chose the latter and I can still picture, much to my amazement, her riding down that dirt ditch, coasting up the other side, doing an "Over The Handles Dismount" on the opposite bank never loosing her balance. Right then and there’s when I determined to make her my bride!

    She still’s the cutest Wheelman (Wheelwoman) I’ve ever seen, riding an 1885, 36 lbs., 55" Singer’s "Apollo" semi-racer, which I gave to her as a present.
    (But of course I’ve still got those little stars in my eyes!!)

    Happy Valentines Day to everyone.

  • rriverstone says:
    I’m as beginner as it gets

    I’m volunteering at the local public station. I’ve done a tiny bit of freelance work. I don’t even have any equipment of my own, yet. A friend says he’ll loan me enough that I can start out by only needing a MiniDisc. I’m very low income, disabled and self-taught. Yesterday, I started a blog about my new adventures in learning independent production. Here it is, if you’d like to see it: I’m learning a LOT from Transom, and I’m very grateful! Rogi Riverstone

  • rriverstone says:

    My advisor just dropped off a computer with sound editing software. He also dropped off a mic. All I need is to earn enough to buy the MiniDisc! Coincidentally, NPR read some fan mail about a piece they aired, produced by my advisor, last week. And my advisor has asked me to help edit audio for one of his series. I’ve been smiling so much, my cheeks hurt. Rogi

  • Sydney Lewis says:

    we’re smiling for ya….
    syd and the transom team

  • Jon Kratz says:

    PLZ I just heard this re-aired and I NEED a copy it was SO GOOD!

  • chana says:
    Thank you

    I just wanted to thank you for taking so much to detail the process you went through with this piece. it sounds great and the background is so helpful. Often tips and tools for producing radio are focused on technical tips or general explanations. We want details! And that is exactly what you offer so thank you so much. I found your article completely motivating!

  • charlane bishop says:
    a little help in nova scotia ?…please.

    hi , after trying out a friends equipment and in hope of doing a pice for CBC Outfront I just bought a Sony MZ-NH700 a Sure PG48 mic and a patch cord. I’m hooked and have recorded lots of stuff. My problem is how do I get it onto PC and into cooleditPro2 (trial version) quickly and efficiently. I promise I’ve done lots of searching and researching but I’m still confused, particularly about this HiMD option, and really anxious to try out editing.. I recorded most of my stuff in MD format(SP)…because of the extended battery life in the field. I’m realizing now that may have been a boo boo, and have started experimenting using HiMD mode and the HiMD minidisc that came with my unit.
    I’m worried about the power thing because I noticed that the recorder has those occasional recordable (power humms??) I experienced in MD mode, almost every couple minutes in HiMd mode (more in LPCM and less in Hi-SP)
    So,please, how do I get the stuff into my PC to edit most quickly and efficiently? HiMD or MD mode regular minidisc or 1Gb HiMD and what speed? (LPCM,Hi-SP, HI-LP).
    Thank you for any info or resource you can lead me to. This site is almost too good to be true for a begginner if not overwhelmimg in It’s resources.
    Thanks from Nova Scotia.

  • Ayala says:
    classes in protools

    I’m transitioning from print to radio in NYC and wondering where I can take a ProTools class without enrolling in a degree or certificate program or paying an exorbitant sum. Or is it the sort of thing you can only learn on the job?

  • Kimberley Rome says:
    radio storyteller student

    Ayala, hi,

    since your message is about 6 weeks old you may have already figured it out — but i must tell you about the center for documentary studies at duke university. Yes you can take a protools class with no strings attached relatively inexpensively. Through continuing studies you can take an 8 week course for a couple hundred bucks, or for $795 you can take a weeklong intensive in the summer.

    I took the summer institute and it changed my life!(a friend from the class was even inspired to put her house on the market so that she can move to Durham and be more involved at the center.) I am currently taking classes with much enthusiasm here now. The folks at the center are incredibly helpful,encouraging,nurturing,supportive, interactive and fun!

  • Ryan Tronier says:
    Program assesments

    Has anyone ever assesed their radio programs? I am attempting to measure the involvement of our ethnic affairs shows in their communities. Are their any resources? Thanks.

  • rriverstone says:
    Queer & Homeless

    The 8th Annual Homelessness Marathon
    Rogi Riverstone
    Albuquerque: 505-842-8175
    Toll Free: 1-877-718-0691

    8th ANNUAL HOMELESSNESS MARATHON Broadcasting in Albuquerque

    Local producers will carry a live, hour discussion, to be aired at 10pm local time, on the impact of homelessness on Gay, Lesbian, Transexual, Transgendered, Pansexual and Bisexual people in Albuquerque. Stay tuned to KUNMfm 89.9 and for further details.

    The 8th Annual Homelessness Marathon is a nationally-produced show. Participating Pacifica, NPR and independent, community and public radio stations will both broadcast and air it. The Marathon will be broadcast from 9pm, EST on Monday, February 14th to 11am, EST on Tuesday, February 14, 2005. The broadcast will be carried on KUNMfm 89.9.

    The Homelessness Marathon has been called, "the most significant media event focusing on homelessness and poverty" by Donald Whitehead, director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. And it is unlike any other broadcast in the world.
    The Marathon is almost entirely live, covers taboo territory and features the voices of people who are rarely heard on the air. Perhaps for this reason it has grown rapidly. The first Marathon, in 1998, was on one tiny station in central New York. The 7th Marathon, in 2004, was on 80 stations coast-to-coast, with another 30 stations across Canada carrying a parallel Canadian Homelessness Marathon.

    As always, the 8th Marathon’s broadcast booth will be set up outside, to dramatize the plight of people with nowhere to go in the cold, and calls will be taken from around the country. But there will be no on-air solicitations. The Marathon is a consciousness raising, not a fundraising broadcast.

    The 8th Marathon will be distributed via the NPR and Pacifica satellites and will be streamed on the web. More information, including broadcast schedules and audio clips from past broadcasts may be found at the Marathon’s web site: and

  • Danielle says:
    Renting a better mike/mini disc player in NYC

    I scored a decent freelance radio gig in NYC. I have mediocre equipment but cannot afford to buy better equipment and was wondering if anyone knows of a place/means/technique for renting equipment for a few weeks.

  • Needham B. Hurst says:
    What to study in college

    So I’m a high school student very interested in radio and in particular public radio/documentary stories. But what do most people who want to get involved in radio do for college? What do they major in? Anything radio related? Or is i all experience based? If it’s experienced thats good because I’m already in contact with a guy from my local station who I could intern with.


  • Masha Alexander says:
    Renting equipment in SF

    Hi. I’m doing some interviews for a radio story in SF in December. I don’t have any equipment of my own and am looking to rent something to use while I’m there. Can anyone recommend any sources.


  • Sydney Lewis says:
    college bound

    Interning is a fantastic way to get your feet wet and begin to discover what really draws you. As for college, beyond the obvious media courses, it’s probably wise to major or minor in an area that would feed your documentary work. History, international affairs, sociology, science…. Feed your other interests because they will feed all of your creative endeavors.
    And study at….real world school. Also consider joining where there’s a world of audio work to hear and study.
    best of luck,

  • mike fitzgerald says:
    Re: Picking a good, reliable mini-disc recorder

    I’m a novice’s novice when it comes to picking a decent mini-disc recorder. What I want is a mini-disc and microphone set-up that can record interviews onto the disc. Then I want a wired interface that can transfer audio files on to a PC or Mac.

    Any recommendations for equipment that won’t break the bank?


  • ruth sherman says:
    manna from heaven not!

    am a 74 year old bubbe who is writing her memoirs about growing up in the Bronx in the 1930′s and 1940′s. my therapist was howling and stamping her feet when I read her a couple of them. She feels there is a definite market out there. Especially if I read them and I must say I’m a hoot. how to proceed?

  • ric causey says:
    Need multiple lav’s w/ mixer and cassette recorder

    I’ve been asked to record depositions. I have a JVC-GYHD100 and Panasonic DVC-PRO Camera’s and 1 Lectrosonic wireless mic system and many AKG hand helds, But I need 4 lav mics, mixer, monitor, and cassette recorder for seperate audio. Can anyone tell me what best to buy.

  • ric causey says:
    need to find cheap lav mics for multiple audio aquisition

    Is there a wireless mic system that would allow for 4 lav’s to be received on one receiver/mixer?

  • Josh Rainbow says:
    help with pro tools

    Hi My name is Josh and live in the netherlands
    I bought a digi002 factory bundle and its a great studio
    Im a singer opera and like to make recordings, till so far I did but I only came on a level of plane recording,then add effects and mbounce,,I know this aint the normal way to get a good recording,,I hope someone is there to help me out what is the best way and give me idea,the studies are very expensive and I spend my money to the studio already..also is there a dvd that would be ok for me to start with??? or must I buy the digi 101 course?? my e mail is I hope someone can help me through

  • sherri says:
    Sony TC-D5M

    I have been looking for the old Sony TC-D5M recorder but have been unable to locate one. Where might I find one of these? -Sherri

  • Andy Murdoch says:
    Where to buy gear in Boston


    I will be coming down to Boston this week-end from Nova Scotia and I am interested in shopping for either the new Marantz hand held or the Zoom H2. Or just seeing what else it out there in the USA. Seeing as Boston is Transom’s neighbourhood, can anyone recommend a good place to shop for this type of gear. Or, anyone interested in selling me some used gear, good shape for a good price?


  • kpopetz says:
    Overwhelmed and undereducated

    Hi all!

    I’ve been working my way through many, many posts to try to find the answers I need but I’m finding myself incredibly overwhelmed and worried that I’ll wind up buying more than I need on a limited budget. Here’s the story:

    This year I launched joint program between my museum and a local high school class. The class created a cell phone audio tour for us and will be doing more in the years to come. The kids did oral history interviews as part of the project and clips from those interviews were included in the final product. When planning the project out with school administrators, it was suggested that we should really try to anticipate the future of such touring and take video as well as audio of the interviews. I was also hoping to use the equipment I purchased for recording our speaker series and podcasting each lecture from our website.

    With all of that in mind, I did a bunch of research which led me to a crazy configuration to try to accommodate all of my needs. I’ve been doing all of the recording (audio and visual) with a Canon FS 200. I have a good mic–an AT2020, phantom power for it–and to accomodate the speaker series side of thing which involves 2 mics- I also have an Shure lav mic and a Beachtek 2 channel receiver.

    As you may have guessed, sound quality is not great. It actually sounds ok when you listen to it raw but because of the crazy amount of compression that has to happen for anything to be transmitted via cell phone, it sounds awful in the end produc–ANY background noise that we couldn’t manage to take out becomes amplified into this gargling sound that cometes with the speaker. I haven’t even tried to get the podcasts up and running because I need an editing program.

    I’m contemplating buying a Marantz–the 660 so that I have the XLR inputs for the mic I already have–but am wondering, is that just way too complicated for the average high school student to use? It will serve double duty recording the lectures as well. Is there something that is better suited? Also, what about editing software for the podcasts? I work for a state agency and they won’t let me put Audacity on my computer because it’s free. Seriously. ProTools looks intimidating, but I’ll get it if folks feel that it’s the best tool for the job.

    I apologize for the long winded post. I truly appreciate any input you might have!


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