A Dancing Life

Intro from Jay Allison: For seven weeks, students from all over 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 a look and listen.

Listen to “A Dancing Life”

About “A Dancing Life”

Producing this story on Margaret Rogers, a 91-year-old tap dance teacher, was a delight. I heard about Margaret from one of her tap students, so I went to the Friday afternoon lesson at the senior center to meet her and see her teach. Margaret was a fabulous teacher, and the “girls,” as Margaret calls the seniors in her class, were having a ball.

Margaret gives private lessons in her home to one other student, Horace. I knew a scene with Margaret and Horace would be important in the story. It would give a good glimpse of how she interacts, one on one, with a student. It also would show how a long-time student related to her. I expected to see some chemistry, and I did.

My biggest technical challenge with the story had to do with music. I gathered most of my tape at dance lessons, so music was usually on in the background. It was tricky to edit the dialogue that was spoken over dance music. But, I worked with what I had, and the music ended up making the piece itself dance a little more.

Listen to More Pieces from this Story Workshop Class

Mary Helen Montgomery

Mary Helen Montgomery

Mary Helen Montgomery is a digital journalist who uses different media — audio, video, code, and words — to tell stories, mostly about the South. She worked at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, and was part of a small team there that was named as a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Local Reporting. She has also worked as a radio producer at WUTC, the NPR affiliate station in Chattanooga, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2013. She is a proud graduate of the Transom Story Workshop. You can find more of her work on her website.

More by Mary Helen Montgomery

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