This Is Radio: Brooke Gladstone

March 16th, 2014 | by Andrew Norton | Series:

About This Is Radio: Brooke Gladstone

Whenever I’m doing profiles like this, I’m always interested in the stuff the subjects collect and have in their office, home or workspace. It’s a good way of setting the scene and giving visual shorthand of your subject. A portrait through things. What kinds of personal photos do they have? What art are they displaying? Do they collect anything? Are there old containers of take-out food lying around?

In the case of Brooke, she had a lot of stuff in her office at WNYC. So much that it was tough choosing what to put on screen. In some ways the dialogue dictates what you choose. For instance, she mentions in the interview that she’s been working at On the Media for 14 years and the footage shows old visas and awards, visually filling in a bit of that history. You can risk being too “on the nose” with the visuals of course.

In radio you can “step on tape” with narration — by repeating but taking focus from your subject — and the same can be true in video. So keep an eye out and make sure your visuals and audio aren’t telling the audience the exact same thing. If they are, don’t be afraid to drop parts of the interview you can show with footage instead or vice versa.

Visualizing the Invisible

Early on in the series, it became clear that creating interesting visuals for this series might be a challenge. Radio is invisible after all, and most of the work a producer does requires being behind a computer. I made a promise that I would not have b-roll of people on Pro Tools every episode. Though I think I know some people that might actually watch that series. That’s not what I was going for here.

If you watch Roman Mars’ episode of This is Radio, you’ll see that the b-roll shots I took were very much influenced by the content of his show. Fortunately, his show is about things in the world and I was able to find some of those things. With Brooke, there weren’t as many concrete opportunities for collecting footage — aside from the tape of her in her office or in the studio.

But in her interview she mentioned On the Media acknowledges the media can be scary and dangerous. She compared navigating the media to walking in traffic. If you know the rules you can cross the road without getting hit by a car. So I honed in on that metaphor, opening with the pedestrian signs and the street crossing. Then re-using it at the end. Eventually I took out that part of the interview, but the visuals still stand I think. It actually makes it better because again things are less “on-the-nose.”

Random Thoughts

  • How cool is that NRD shirt she has?
  • After the interview we met up with radio producer Sean Cole in New York. I mentioned that Brooke told me she found an ending while I was interviewing her and he told me I had to leave that in. That’s the funny thing about interviewing interviewers and editing editors. It can also present some unique challenges. More on that in upcoming episodes.
  • After the interview at the nearly empty WNYC office, I couldn’t help but try on the Shrewdinger costume (the hypothetical first mammal) down the hall at the Radiolab offices when no one was looking. The perks of being around late.
photo of Andrew wearing the Shrewdinger costume.

Andrew wearing the Shrewdinger costume. Photo by Samantha Broun

About Andrew Norton

Andrew Norton is a multimedia producer who graduated from the Transom Story Workshop on Cape Cod. Before that, he was an editor and staff photographer at a skateboard magazine. He got to travel from the streets of Taiwan to Newfoundland to Tony Hawk’s backyard. Since then his radio stories have aired on dozens of stations across the US, on CBC radio in Canada and on shows like 99% Invisible. He also combines his audio storytelling chops with his photography background to make videos. His previous series, profiling the world’s best skateboard photographers, earned him a Vimeo Staff Pick award.

Andrew lives in Toronto. He’s also very tall.

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