Intro from Jay Allison: For seven weeks, students from all of the US (plus Canada and Australia) came to Woods Hole to immerse themselves in radio in the first ever Transom Story Workshop. They were led by Rob Rosenthal, with help from all of us at Transom, WCAI, and visiting friends - Ira Glass, John Barth, Kelly McEvers, and many others. They were beginners when they arrived, some with no experience at all, but they all left with completed radio pieces good enough for broadcast on our station and nationally. They lived and ate together. They worked on their stories until dawn. They actually looked different when they left, filled with new energy. They were a wonderful, coherent, lively group of people and we loved having them here on Cape Cod. Audiences are already benefitting from the stories they told. Take and look and listen.
About “Bucky’s Dome”
One of the biggest challenges I faced was condensing all of the information I had into a manageable story that makes sense. Buckminster Fuller was a philosopher, architect, inventor, author, dreamer – he was multi-faceted in a way that is rare these days. I needed to convey that without giving a long lecture. Jay Baldwin’s pithy quotes were immensely helpful for that section.
Also, pardon the gory radio term, but I had to shoot some puppies.* The two men who worked at The Dome Restaurant for many years had a surprisingly sweet friendship that I expected would be a bigger part of the story. My classmates gave me many gentle nudges to cut this section, which I stubbornly ignored. Rob even said something like “maybe you don’t have time to talk a whole lot about these two guys in your story.” I thought: of course not. I talk about them exactly the right amount. There also used to be a section of the story where Bucky contemplated suicide. He was 32 and considered himself a failure and a disgrace to his family. I thought this made his accomplishments more interesting and weighty. I even had archival tape of him talking about this part of his life. Ultimately, I realized these tangents caused narrative whiplash. Suicide! Norwegian exchange student! Disco music! What?! You can’t cover 4,000 topics in a ten minute story. It’s too confusing, and the goal is clarity.
*To shoot your puppies means to cut moments you love out of your story. It’s tough, but if something’s really not part of the story it often has to go.
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