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The Backstory to Great Radio Storytelling, hosted by Rob Rosenthal, for Transom and PRX.

The Backstory to Great Radio Storytelling, hosted by Rob Rosenthal, for Transom and PRX.
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The Backstory to Great Radio Storytelling, hosted by Rob Rosenthal, for Transom and PRX.




These Are A Few Of My Favorite (Recent) Clips

A student once asked me “How do you find the stories you feature on HowSound?” I’m asked that a lot, actually. And, I’m sorry to say, I don’t have any secrets to reveal. I probably find stories and podcasts the same way everyone else does. Here’s my very quick and cursory list. I listen to […] The post These Are A Few Of My Favorite (Recent) Clips appeared first on Transom.


You Just Won’t Know If You Don’t Ask

Jennifer Kingsley told me that just because you show up doesn’t mean there’s a story. She was referring to her documentary “Humans of the Arctic” for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In the doc, Jennifer travels the Arctic with no plan other than to interview people. That’s it. She interviews someone and asks “Who else should […] The post You Just Won’t Know If You Don’t Ask appeared first on Transom.


Fictional Sounds For A Fictional Story

Can I tell you how much of a pain in the tuckus it was to record a simple sound — the sound of me walking up a gangplank? What I thought was a ten-minute job took about forty minutes instead. Ridiculous. Let me paint the scene: It’s Sunday afternoon around 2 pm. I’m at a […] The post Fictional Sounds For A Fictional Story appeared first on Transom.


The Podcast Mindset: Part 2

Listening to Nocturne, a podcast about the night, I pictured Vanessa Lowe exploring corners of the dark with her microphone and a flashlight. I imagined she sometimes wore a headlamp so she could record her nighttime stories more easily. There she is, I’d dream up in my mind, stepping quietly, eyes and ears wide open, […] The post The Podcast Mindset: Part 2 appeared first on Transom.


The Podcast Mindset: Part 1

This summer, I went to mow the lawn and the mower wouldn’t start. I tried and tried. Nothing. I checked the gas. Fine. I checked the oil. Fine. So, I pulled the chord again and again. Still nothing. I looked on-line for solutions. A few websites suggested spraying starter fluid into the carburetor. I watched […] The post The Podcast Mindset: Part 1 appeared first on Transom.


Color Notes

A school bell. A siren. Traffic. An airplane. Crickets. An opening door . . . These sounds are known as “signature sounds.” You know what they are as soon as you hear them. To be honest, I don’t know what the opposite of a “signature sound” is except that it’s a sound that doesn’t stand […] The post Color Notes appeared first on Transom.


Three Stories, Marfa Style

At Transom Traveling Workshops, we throw students into the deep end. It’s sort of like “Here’s your gear. Go swim.” The workshop assignment is this: In just a week, produce a profile of an interesting person that lives near the workshop. The thing that makes them interesting has to make sound. In other words, no […] The post Three Stories, Marfa Style appeared first on Transom.


Story Endings

What is this drive we seem to have, this built-in, seemingly innate desire to end stories on an up-note? The proverbial “happy ending.” Neat. Tidy. And, most importantly, positive and hopeful. The internet abounds with theories about why we yearn for “happy endings.” I’ll pile on (though, I’m sure I’m not the first to think […] The post Story Endings appeared first on Transom.


Anatomy Of A Scene

The word “scene” is used all the time when discussion audio storytelling. “Do you have any scenes for your story?” “What’s the opening scene?” “Oh, man, I recorded some good scene tape today!” But, what is a scene? In short, think of it as a chapter, a section of a story that typically has active […] The post Anatomy Of A Scene appeared first on Transom.


A Rockin’ Start

Maybe it’s because I love the song. It’s a musical detonation and an f-you to dad. “A primitive howl in the face of all that is proper and refined,” as David Weinberg puts it. And so, maybe that’s why I’m so keen on the opening to David’s documentary about the song. I mean, it’s “Louie […] The post A Rockin’ Start appeared first on Transom.


Three Student Stories Produced In Only A Week

Again and again and again and again, I’m stunned by the solid work produced by students in Transom’s Traveling Workshops. These are week-long workshops held around the country. Frankly, under the circumstances, there’s no reason for the pieces students make to be good. The week-long workshops move at lightening speed. In that short time, students […] The post Three Student Stories Produced In Only A Week appeared first on Transom.


Hang A Picture In Front Of The Mic

Every now and then, Susan Stamberg says “Aww, the heck with it.” The art she’d like to report on is too complicated to explain on the radio because of the lack of visuals. In fact, Susan says it’s always a challenge to report on the visual arts. But that doesn’t stop her. Over the years, […] The post Hang A Picture In Front Of The Mic appeared first on Transom.


25th Anniversary Of “Ghetto Life 101”

I remember Claire Holman waving the CD and saying “We should definitely listen to this tonight!” Claire was the director of Blunt Youth Radio in Portland, Maine. I was her assistant back in the late 1990s. We were headed to a meeting with the high school reporters we worked with and we always started those […] The post 25th Anniversary Of “Ghetto Life 101” appeared first on Transom.


Recording Binaurally

Trust me. You should wear headphones for this episode of HowSound and any of the audio on this page. Some years ago, I traveled to Newfoundland, hiking and eating not-so-great food — though, the pan-fried capelin from Ha Ha Bay were amazing! A highlight of the trip was kayaking around icebergs near Hay Cove at […] The post Recording Binaurally appeared first on Transom.


Finding Chenjerai The Storyteller

When someone sits down to narrate a story, they’re commonly given the following advice: imagine you’re just talking to one person. Makes sense, right? Because how often do people listen to radio stories and podcasts in a group? Not very often. Usually, people listen alone. I tend to give a slightly different recommendation when I’m […] The post Finding Chenjerai The Storyteller appeared first on Transom.


Police Ride-Alongs

In all the years that I’ve used a microphone in a pistol grip out in public, I never once worried it would be mistaken for a gun. Maybe I should have, but it just didn’t occur to me. I can’t think of any gun that looks like my rig. For Martin Kaste, however, that’s a […] The post Police Ride-Alongs appeared first on Transom.


The Value Of A Sympathetic Character

My favorite quote from my interview with Ann Heppermann is this: “I think simplicity, in terms of character, is the enemy.” Ann was the Senior Producer for the podcast Heaven’s Gate, the series from Pineapple Street Media about the cult of the same name that committed the largest mass suicide in the United States back […] The post The Value Of A Sympathetic Character appeared first on Transom.


Sports Stories That Work

Believe me when I say I try to listen. I really do. But, invariably I tune out sports stories on public radio. They’re like fingernails on a chalkboard. Of course, it doesn’t help that I couldn’t care less about professional sports. But, putting that aside, most public radio sports stories lack depth. They’re thin. As […] The post Sports Stories That Work appeared first on Transom.


Stopping A Podcast

There are some 450,000 podcasts on iTunes. Yup. Nearly half a million. Everyone and their grandmother has a podcast. In fact, there are so many people starting podcasts, there was a cartoon in the New Yorker not too long ago lampooning the podcast boom where one person says to another, “I’m thinking of stopping a […] The post Stopping A Podcast appeared first on Transom.


A Question To Start A Story?

“Where do I even start?!” How many times have you said that to yourself as you’re staring at a blank screen wanting to write a script. If you’re like me, too many. There are “tricks” to break the logjam. Ask yourself “What’s my best tape?” and try starting with that. Or, pick a point on […] The post A Question To Start A Story? appeared first on Transom.