How Sound-logo

How Sound


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.
More Information


United States




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




A Rockin’ Start - HowSound

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 - HowSound

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 - HowSound

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” - HowSound

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 - HowSound

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 - HowSound

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 - HowSound

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 - HowSound

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 - HowSound

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 - HowSound

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? - HowSound

“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.


Journalism Of Empathy - HowSound

I’m going to borrow a quote from Ted Conover who, in turn, borrowed it from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. “If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] The post Journalism Of Empathy appeared first on Transom.


Reporting On Traumatic Events - HowSound

I’ve grown weary of the ceaseless onslaught of criticism of journalism, especially from those who seem to derive their critique solely from their politics. Not only is it shallow and myopic, I worry that the good work of reporters is lost in the blitz — good, solid work day-in and day-out. Like the reporting of […] The post Reporting On Traumatic Events appeared first on Transom.


Don’t Write, Tell - HowSound

Last fall, I heard a story on NPR about flood insurance and I thought “Oh dear. This is going to be humdrum.” Noel King produced the story for Planet Money. She’s a reporter there. And even she agrees. National Flood Insurance Policy is not a riveting topic. But, despite that, Noel nailed it. Her three […] The post Don’t Write, Tell appeared first on Transom.


Two Traveling Workshop Stories - HowSound

One came from Australia. Another from D.C. Another from Aspen. Still another from San Antonio. All were part of a class of ten people from all over who recently attended a Transom Traveling Workshop in Marfa, Texas hosted by Marfa Public Radio. Some students were full time reporters. Others had dabbled at producing their own […] The post Two Traveling Workshop Stories appeared first on Transom.


Radio Is A Visual Medium - HowSound

You know that old radio joke, right? Ira Glass says it a lot. “Radio is your most visual medium.” Of course, it’s often said with a wink. But, simultaneously, it’s a boast because it’s true. I once heard Robert Krulwich make the point. He put it slightly differently. He said that when radio is produced […] The post Radio Is A Visual Medium appeared first on Transom.


Avoiding Cheesy Sound Design - HowSound

I think Jad Abumrad should send me a bill. I’d gladly pay whatever he charges. For longer than I care to admit, I’ve wanted to understand what it takes to sound design a radio story. Over the years on HowSound, I’ve spoken to producers about sound designing in an effort to figure it out, most […] The post Avoiding Cheesy Sound Design appeared first on Transom.


Stepping In With The Facts - HowSound

Zach Hirsch’s recent story on NPR is proof you can find national stories right in your neighborhood. Zach recorded a fairly simple chat in a backyard and turned it into one of the most important stories he says he’s ever produced. Of course, no radio story is ever “simple.” For starters, the conversation he recorded […] The post Stepping In With The Facts appeared first on Transom.


The Broken Narrative - HowSound

There’s just something satisfying about drawing story structure on a napkin. Robert Smith of Planet Money carries a printed copy of Dan Harmon’s Story Circle around in his wallet. But, as spot-on as the Story Circle is, if it’s not drawn on a napkin, it’s just less satisfying. (Joking) I first got the idea of […] The post The Broken Narrative appeared first on Transom.


Sounding Like Yourself - HowSound

Why is it so hard to sound like yourself when reading narration for radio stories? Transom's Viki Merrick offers some voicing coaching gold. You'll wanna take notes. The post Sounding Like Yourself appeared first on Transom.