Intro from Jay Allison: This piece comes from a student in the Transom Story Workshop Fall 2013. For many of the participants, this is the first radio work they’ve ever made, which is not an excuse but a cause for amazement. In their two months in Woods Hole, under the guidance of Rob Rosenthal & Sarah Reynolds and the Transom Team (along with renowned visiting teachers like, this time: Jonathan Harris, Ira Glass, and Andrea Seabrook), they learn the skills of recording, interviewing, structuring, editing, writing, voicing, mixing, etc. etc… while creating work for broadcast. The fun part is not that they just learn the rules, but that they also break them creatively. The harmony in these groups, as they help one another, is inspiring. We asked students to write about their challenges and what they did to surmount or circumvent them. They share their own vulnerability in order to help others, which is part of the wonder of these workshops.
About “Under Water”
Making this story felt a little like whittling down a giant piece of wood. I started with a day’s worth of tape. And at first, I thought so many parts — so many knots — were beautiful and absolutely necessary. But with each listen, it became clear that a few more needed to go. And then some needed a little more or a little less support to stand on their own.
Ultimately, I think it can be hard to tell — perhaps especially for a radio newbie — when a piece is done, or when you’ve made what you set out to create. For that reason, it was enormously helpful for me to play this piece for new people at different stages of the editing process.
Fresh ears let me know when I was boring them, or when I’d taken too much information out. They let me know when my music was hitting them over the head, or if that one part really sounded as awkward as I thought it did. Even when there were no fresh ears around, just taking a couple hours to step away from the screen, to read a book or go for a walk, helped me hear the piece anew.
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Britta’s Sonic ID
When I held my microphone up to her organ, I expected Ruth would soon stop playing to ask who I was and what I was doing. But she just ignored me and kept playing — song after song after song. After several attempts to engage her, I was about ready to give up and walk away. But then she finally let her fingers rest, and was excited to talk! So I’ll take this sonic as a lesson in the value of patience and persistence in radio making.