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. 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. The students and Rob are around to answer any questions you may have.
I’ve been teaching radio production and storytelling for many, many years. Despite that, I am never, ever bored – ever — because each student’s story presents something new for me to grapple with and learn from…
TSW: Class of Fall 2011
“The Tail of a Stone Carver’s Dream” by Lori Ann Brass
I feel fortunate…to be telling stories, this time, as an independent radio producer.
“Big Collage” by Erin Cisewski
I learned that despite my preparedness, the magic of a story comes from the surprises.
“Trust and Translation” by Will Coley
At the end of the day, the project really taught me a lot about boiling down complex issues to comprehensible stories.
“The Mark of a Blacksmith” by JP Davidson
I really struggled to find a story for my first piece. Nobody was getting back to me, my ideas seemed dull, and the clock was ticking.
“Leaving” by Whitney Jones
When I arrived in Woods Hole I had no intention of doing a story about myself.
“Bucky’s Dome” by Katie Klocksin
Ultimately, I realized tangents caused narrative whiplash…. You can’t cover 4,000 topics in a ten minute story. It’s too confusing, and the goal is clarity.
“A Dancing Life” by Mary Helen Miller
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.
“Veronica’s Backyard” by Joel Supple
I wasn’t really sure what the story was going to be about, but Veronica was all personality, and a great character.
TSW Spring 2011: Instructor’s Notes
by Rob Rosenthal
This fall we piloted the Transom Story Workshop – an intensive radio immersion course for beginners. I’ve been teaching radio production and storytelling for many, many years. Despite that, I am never, ever bored – ever — because each student’s story presents something new for me to grapple with and learn from.
For instance, before the Transom Story Workshop no student had ever asked: “The graffiti artist I’m doing a story on doesn’t have a car and only travels only by skate board. Can I drive him so he can show me his work that’s about seven miles away? And, he might bring a can of spray paint along and put something up. That okay?”
Seems obvious now, but in the moment, having never thought about that before, it took a couple of minutes to work through the question with the student. On one hand, yeah, by all means, drive someone so they can show you their work. On the other, he may commit a crime while he’s there. So, actually, no. Don’t do that!
Other learning moments for me during the Workshop related to the use of foreign language translation, recording while trespassing, how to edit someone with vigor when the story they are telling is intensely personal, and so on. More often than not, answering these questions was a group effort – everyone’s teaching, everyone’s learning, including me.
And I was definitely in learning mode with all the stellar guest speakers to the Workshop. NPR reporter, Kelly McEvers talked about reporting from a war zone; Australian public radio talk show host Richard Fidler offered excellent interview tips; Patrice Schneider of the Media Development Loan described his work with community radio in emerging democracies; This American Life’s Ira Glass listened to and critiqued story pitches… I could go on.
In this Transom feature not only will you hear from the students about what they each took away from their experience at the Workshop but you’ll also be able to listen to one of the pieces that they produced during their time in Woods Hole. I hope you glean something from their travails. We’re running the Workshop again in the spring. Please consider joining me to learn – and teach!
*Note: A special shout out to Joni Glazebrook – Transom Story Workshop’s Outreach Ambassador – and Sarah Harris, who was my teaching assistant this fall. Neither of them appear in the feature but the Workshop would not have been possible without them.
In honor the pilot Workshop class!
Help Transom get new work and voices to public radio by donating now.
About Rob Rosenthal
Rob Rosenthal is an independent producer and a teacher. He’s the host for How Sound, PRX’s podcast on radio storytelling. He ran the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies’ radio track for 11 years. And, he is now the lead teacher for the Transom Story Workshop, which launched in the fall of 2011.