When Ryan Sweikert arrived at the Transom Story Workshop last spring, he’s wasn’t operating at 100%. While boxing, Ryan took a hit to the head and got a concussion. Despite that, he pushed through the haze over the eight weeks of the workshop and reported a story on opiate addiction with the tenacity of a fighter.
Ryan’s story “Short of Breath” is masterful in its telling. The reporting is top-notch, too, though you won’t recognize this piece as traditional journalism, a story about addiction, overdoses, and Narcan, an overdose reversal drug.
He recorded some twenty hours of interviews with addicts, family, law enforcement, and first responders – person after person hunting for up-close, personal stories for a type of storytelling Ryan calls “subjective reporting.” It’s impossible not to be moved when one mother of an addict says “When you’re in this disease of addiction, you have three alternatives – recovery, jail, or death because there’s really nothing else. He’s done all three now.”
If the type of radio reporting Ryan produced at Transom is his starting point, imagine what’s next.