Intro from Jay Allison: We’re proud to share with you some of the work from our Spring 2016 Transom Story Workshop. Our tenth class! They’ve now joined the growing ranks (almost 100) of Story Workshop alums out in the world, more than 70% of whom are working in radio, podcasting or public media in one form or another. The students from this class came to us from all across the country. They have flown our radio nest, and returned home to New Hampshire, Wyoming, Illinois, Maine, California, etc. and maybe they'll all end up in Brooklyn, but no matter what, we can’t wait to hear what they do next. In the meantime, you should hear what they did while they were here.
Transom Story Workshop: Class of Spring 2016
“Los Colores de Cape Cod” by Barb Anguiano
One of the most important lessons I learned at Transom (among many) was to always aim to be yourself in your work. This piece helped me explore a completely new side of myself, and use skills I usually don’t think twice about, like speaking Spanish.
“At Sea” by Peter Bresnan
Although I generally don’t like giving advice, the one thing I would say to any would-be radio producer is this: curiosity is your best weapon. Try to be more curious every day, to pay attention to the world and to find new things to be curious about all the time.
“93 Men” by Scott Christy
Two of the many questions that came up for me in making this piece were: why now and so what? Why are you telling this story now and what does it mean?
“4300m” by Shelby El Otmani
The number one lesson I learned at Transom: forget your dream story. Well, don’t forget it, but be prepared to ditch it. This particular story is the result of several shattered dreams and a lot of coffee.
“Flight” by Abdi Iftin
Eventually, not reading my own script but instead remembering the moments as I spoke helped make my voicing sound natural.
“She Handed Me Jupiter” by Ellery Lamm
Here’s the thing: You can have an interest in a particular area, you can have your idea, but that in itself isn’t always enough. The idea is what fuels you. The story is what you find to ground your idea.
“The Question” by Elizabeth Nakano
I had to figure out which complications to hint at in the piece and which to let go entirely because they were extraneous. The process of omission made me uncomfortable, but the feedback I got with each edit helped me to appreciate that a simplified storyline doesn’t mean denying a character his complexity.
“Digging Up Myles Standish” by Annie Sinsabaugh
Show your work to others and show it often, even when it sucks. Wait, scratch that — especially when it sucks.
“Short Of Breath” by Ryan Sweikert
I had to earn the trust of the people I wanted to interview in order to report this story…. When I reached out to people, I told them exactly what I wanted and why. When they declined, I didn’t push them. When they accepted, I accepted the responsibility of getting their story right.
TSW Spring 2016: Lead Instructor’s Notes
by Rob Rosenthal
I have a poster that reads “Life is Hard, Radio is Harder.” It’s a joke, to be sure, but there are times during the Transom Workshop I think students would agree.
What’s so hard about producing a radio story? Well, everything.
Finding a story. Deciding on a focus. Researching and prep. Interviewing. Interviewing again. Interviewing more people. Recording things as they happen. Reviewing the recordings. Making sense of the the recordings. Revisiting the story focus. Shall I go on? Okay…
Writing. Editing. Writing. Editing. Re-focusing, again. Writing. Editing. Voicing. Mixing. Editing. Re-voicing…
See what I mean? Sometimes, radio is harder than life.
Of course, you might not know that listening to this crop of stories. That “backstory” as to how a piece gets produced is hidden. All you hear is the magic of the final work.
About Rob Rosenthal, Lead Instructor
Rob Rosenthal is an independent producer and a teacher. He’s the host for the HowSound podcast — a joint project of PRX and Transom — on radio storytelling. He started and then 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.
About Mary Helen Montgomery, Teaching Assistant
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.