Intro from Jay Allison: Nine students recently completed the Spring 2013 Transom Story Workshop and they uncovered wonderful local stories. Their work is a real lesson not only in storytelling, but also in story finding. We asked each student to pick one of the pieces they produced during their time here, tell you about how they discovered it, and chronicle their challenges in producing it. They also picked one of the “Sonic IDs” they made, which are good ones. Most of this group had never produced before, so prepare to be inspired by what they accomplished.
About “Lil’ Poopy”
One of the many highlights of the Transom workshop is house dinners with guest speakers. A particular discussion about social media and journalism with Kelly McEvers helped inspire the discovery of my second story. The conversation led to this insightful adage: “Facebook is where you go to tell lies to your friends and Twitter is where you go to tell the truth to strangers”.
So when searching for ideas for our second radio stories, I turned to Twitter in search of truth. I had previously found articles about Lil’ Poopy but hadn’t found a way to contact him or his parents. Twitter proved its worth as the primary platform for budding Internet stars to communicate with strangers. Before too long, I found myself tweeting at a 9-year-old rap star.
Judging by his thousands of followers and connections to hip hop fame, I assumed that he wouldn’t have time to talk to a lowly amateur radio producer like myself. But I learned the valuable lesson: you should never shy away from asking for an interview from anyone; it never hurts to try. I also learned that 5th graders have quite a bit of free time. A simple Twitter connection led to an interview with Poopy and his dad in their recording studio in Brockton.
I also learned that being sincere and transparent as an interviewer is the easiest and most helpful way to approach talking with your subjects, be they elementary school kids or seasoned lawyers. You can’t expect to get honest answers from people if you are not being honest as an interviewer.
In short, my advice for other beginning producers: 1.) Get your tweet game up 2.) Never be afraid to make contact with anyone, even nine-year-old rapper internet celebrities and 3.) in the words of Lil’ Poopy, “just be yourself”.
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Schuyler’s Sonic ID
I came across John Stangle on a road trip up to Provincetown with Neena. We saw a yard sale on the side of the road near Wellfleet and decided to check it out. Thankfully we thought to bring our recording equipment, even before we got out of the car. Once I heard the wind chimes I knew I wanted to record their sound and find out more about their maker.