“Where do I find stories?” That’s probably the question most frequently asked by new producers. I think the answer has less to do with where to look and more to do with knowing what a story is in the first place. Once a producer has a feel for the elements of story, then you tend to see them all over the place.
In short, I think of story pretty simply: a sequence of events where a character attempts to overcome a problem. There’s more to it than that, of course. But, that’s a really good foundation.
If you start from that place, it’s possible, then, to spot stories on bulletin boards, in under-reported newspaper pieces, at the counter in a diner, and just chatting with people at the post office, down on the wharf or at a ball game – wherever.
One of the two student stories featured on this episode of HowSound was inspired by an ad about domestic violence broadcast during last year’s Super Bowl game. The other was sparked by me. I was ranting in a Transom class one day about the weird life-cycle of eels and eel poaching. A student basically said “That one’s mine!” and produced a nice piece, as you’ll hear. In both cases, the students knew what a story was, they recognized the story elements in something that caught their attention, and then moved toward it, mics in hand.