Established writers with worthy essays who couldn’t figure out how to get them on public radio (could you?).
on the Art of the Radio Commentary – we talk, we read, we read as if we’re talking or somewhere in between.
on her rebellious climb up a tree in the backyard. Eventually, she comes back down.
on the invisible cheerleading camp next door. (plus, BONUS TRACKS!)
Each of these writers has chops. But all of these pieces came to Transom because public radio doesn’t have an easy way in. Well, that’s good for Transom, but is it good for public radio?
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These pieces make a nice grouping because each, in its way, shows how the telling out loud can carry something the page can not deliver: Tracy’s dialogue, Earl’s faux improvisation, Eric’s magic sound.
Note: Eric has a bit of an advantage because he has sound. You can read his notes on how he recorded and hear his “favorite piece of audio ever” and his computer startup sound gleaned from this piece.
Eric Nuzum’s Cheerleader Camp
First, a bit of info on the recordings. I knew when I started writing this that I’d need audio of the cheering. I tried recording it at the building so it would sound the way I hear it everyday–but the recording turned out awful. Almost any environmental noise (traffic, lawn mowers, etc…) overwhelmed the thin sound of the cheerleaders. So, as the morning wore on, I’d work my way closer and closer to them in hopes of picking up some better sound. I felt like some kind of pervert, lurking behind trees and off in the distance with some sort of strange equipment – like I was recording video to post to cheerleadervoyeur.com or something.
Finally, I realized that I wasn’t going to capture anything worth having unless I asked them if I could record close up. I would have much rather “found” the sound, but the quality of what I got justifies the intrusion. During a break I approached the teachers and explained–as best I could–what I wanted to do. They were really enthusiastic and called the girls in. There were 125 girls in the camp, all lined up in a semi-circle around me and my stereo microphone. They held nothing back–smiles, gestures, loud voices, everything.
I’ve captured sound in some awesome situations before, but I was, frankly, overwhelmed by these girls. They were 100% into sharing what they did without a single shread of irony, sarcasm, or reservation. They were there to cheer, damnit. And cheer they did. I just pressed the buttons and let it happen. It was pretty awesome to watch.
This is my favorite piece of audio ever. This is the beginning of the teacher explaining to the students that someone was going to tape them–and it shows how the cheerleaders are programmed to react to introductions.
Before the cheerleaders offered their cheers for me, the leader calls them to attention–which is what this sound sample represents. Since January I’ve had this as the start-up sound on my computer every day.
About Tracy Johnston
Tracy Johnston has been working on her backyard garden for sixteen years. During that time she has also worked as an editor and freelance writer for various regional and national magazines. In 1993 she published her first book, “Shooting The Boh: One Woman’s Voyage Down The Wildest River in Borneo” – now in it’s 13th printing. For the last four years she has been working on a book about marriage in Northern Nigeria, which so far has proved an even more perilous journey. (Note: the tree trunk in question is by Tracy’s left ear.)
About Earl Pomerantz
After honing his writing skills in Canada, Earl came to California in 1974, and has been working steadily in network television comedy ever since. Starting with the acclaimed Lily Tomlin specials, Earl segued into half-hour comedy, writing for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, “Taxi”, “Cheers”, “The Cosby Show” and consulting on such highly regarded series as “The Larry Sanders Show”. He has also created three network series: “Best of the West”, “Family Man” and “Major Dad”. Earl has received two Emmy awards, a Writers’ Guild award, a Humanitas Prize, and a Cable Ace Award.
About Eric Nuzum
Director of Programming and Operations at WKSU-FM, Eric has worked in public radio for ten years as a producer, marketer, fundraiser, and programmer. He also has produced award-winning documentaries and programming for PRI, NPR, does semi-regular commentaries for Marketplace, and is featured in the This American Life comic book. He is also the author of the book “Parental Advisory: Music Censorship in America”, released in April 2001, from HarperCollins Publishers.