Intro from Jay Allison: Another nine students recently ended their two-month stay here in Woods Hole, and once again, they uncovered wonderful local stories. Their work is a real lesson not only in storytelling, but also in story finding. In this Transom feature, each student picks one of the pieces they produced during their time here, tells you about how they discovered it, and chronicles their challenges in producing it. They also pick 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.
Rob Rosenthal, Lead Instructor
The Workshop classroom is purposefully structured as a kind of “radio mutual aid society.” Or, put another way, the class is a production team. Our charge is to produce eighteen stories in eight weeks…
TSW: Class of Spring 2013
“Twofer” by Karen Duffin
I learned what happens when you try to wrestle a story into what you thought it would be, instead of what it actually is. You can feel it. You try to find places for quotes and they don’t really flow. You write narration that confuses people. Someone reads the script and you still have to explain what you think the story is.
“A Day at Herring River” by Ben Harden
It excited me to do a piece like this. It didn’t involve a huge amount of preparation, it was just about me moving towards something that I found intangible and intriguing.
“Surface Tension” by Derek Hawkins
If you find yourself struggling with a story, don’t rush to think about the other ideas you could be pursuing. Instead, push harder. I picked a fight with my story.
“100%” by Zach Hirsch
As I was leaving his house, Jerry admitted it was a relief to talk to someone. That, right there — that fleeting moment of appreciation and deep connection — is what really motivates us as radio producers and human beings.
“The Rescuers” by Jackie Mitchell
I never did a single interview in a remotely quiet place, or even a place that ever could be quiet. At the wildlife clinics I visited, there was constant cacophony of chattering and squawking… and that was just the human volunteers.
“Strong-Armed” by Neena Pathak
I’m not sure what got me thinking about guns. Maybe it’s because they are in the news every single day. When I started calling gun clubs and safety instructors, my potential interviewees were skeptical…
“Island Signs” by Dylan Peers McCoy
…as soon as I learned there was a sign language that was unique to the island—a language used by both deaf and hearing islanders—I was obsessed. It was a story I wanted to share with everyone.
“The Loneliest Creature on Earth” by Lilly Sullivan
…this story had neither character nor plot. It’s a story about an animal that no one has ever seen, who sings at a frequency that no one can hear. In sum, no characters, no interviews, no photos, and no tape.
“Lil’ Poopy” by Schuyler Swenson
I 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.
TSW Spring 2013: Lead Instructor’s Notes
by Rob Rosenthal
This graduating class is the fourth one to go through the Transom Story Workshop. And like the three classes that came before, I am proud of the pieces this class produced.
I think the success of Transom students isn’t only a result of what we teach (and by “we” I mean me, our excellent associate instructor Sarah Reynolds, and the Transom crew). Instead, Transom students produce solid work because they teach each other.
The Workshop classroom is purposefully structured as a kind of “radio mutual aid society.” Or, put another way, the class is a production team. Our charge is to produce eighteen stories in eight weeks. While Sarah and I provide a lot of guidance, so do the students. Everyone is a producer and everyone is an editor.
We all – students and teachers alike – are involved in story planning. As a group, we all review field recordings. Ethical concerns are hashed out in class. Even script edits are a group process where a student sends their script to everyone – peers and teachers – and they receive a pile of edits back.
At Transom everyone in class is seen as a teacher. Listen to the student’s stories. I suspect you’ll find that it’s an approach that works.
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About Rob Rosenthal, Lead Instructor
Rob Rosenthal is a radio teacher and producer. He launched and ran the internationally renowned radio program at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies for eleven years. He’s now the lead instructor at the Transom Story Workshop. Rob has also presented and taught at workshops for National Geographic, the National Press Photographers Association, the Third Coast Festival, and colleges and universities.
When he’s not teaching, Rob produces HowSound, a podcast on audio storytelling for PRX, the Public Radio Exchange. For many years, Rob was primarily interested in producing local stories for local audiences, content that connects people to place including Malaga Island: A Story Best Left Untold and the audio tour Deep Woods and River Roads. More recently, Rob has produced multi-media pieces on international stories including Justice Denied and Rights Not Rescue.
About Sarah P. Reynolds, Associate Instructor
Sarah is a radio producer and multimedia storyteller. She reports and produces stories for NPR and other national radio programs and specializes in digital storytelling, devising and producing multimedia projects for non-profits. Her investigative and reporting work covers subjects as diverse as the housing crisis, hate crimes and migrant workers, much of which has culminated in a series of reports for national organizations working to change policy. Sarah has made radio for the tiny WCAI public radio station in Woods Hole, as well as the bigger WNYC in New Work. She’s taught radio with WNYC’s Radio Rookies and at NYU. You can find more of Sarah’s work here.