Sit With Me Again

Sixteen year old Cameron Ledoux (photo by Mike Bernstein).


Bob Ledoux, Cameron’s father (photo by Mike Bernstein).

 

On this edition of the Saltcast, a first. I follow-up on a story we aired last November because that story now has a follow-up.

“Sit With Me” was produced by Mike Bernstein in 2006 while he was a student at Salt. It’s the story of Bob, a father with severe depression and anxiety, and his son Cameron.

Well, the folks at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) recently heard “Sit With Me” and liked it so much they asked Mike to go back to Bob and Cameron four years later. Not a fool, Mike jumped at the chance.

The original story was nearly eight minutes long. The follow-up is close to twenty! A full-length doc and quite an honor for Mike. We feature both stories on this Saltcast.

Happy listening!

Rob

PS – Here’s a link to “All in the Mind,” the ABC program that featured Mike’s story.

PPS – In addition to freelancing as a radio producer, Mike’s also a photographer.

PPPS – And, as you know, Saltcast is produced by PRX, the Public Radio Exchange which recently announced it’s 2010 Zeitfunk Awards. These are awards for the “mostest” on PRX. The staff at PRX breaks out an abacus and starts counting to figure out the most listened to, the most licensed, the most…. you get it. Have a listen.

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A Square Meal Regardless

“How the heck am I going to find a story?!” Students at Salt ask that question incessantly at the beginning of a semester. And trust me, they don’t always say ‘heck.’

To spark thinking on where to look for a story, for many years we’ve used “50 Places to Shop for Story Ideas” by Gregg McLachlan. I think it’s an excellent starting point.

One thing missing from the list? Yard sales.

Student Jen Nathan found today’s story, “A Square Meal Regardless,” while thumbing through the classified section of a newspaper (which is on the list, by the way).

Have a listen, check out the list, then add number 51 — yard sales.

Best,

Rob

 

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Pink

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At Salt, we use the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics to guide us through tricky editorial decisions.

But, how’s a student supposed to figure out the best path to take when the teacher breaks the Society’s code around “avoid(ing) conflicts of interest, real or perceived.”

I suggested a student interview my mother-in-law for a story about the color pink. “How could there possibly be any conflicts of interest on a story like that,” I thought to myself. “Seems harmless.”

Yeah, well….

Have a listen to my tale of woe and Meghan Vigeant’s unusual story called “Pink.”

Cheers, Rob

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‘Til Death Do Us Part

A toucan bit my mic once. Another time, a cow licked my mic. I’ve had to wipe fish guts and seaweed from it.

O, the places my mic has taken me.

Just in the last few months, with a microphone leading the way, I’ve been to a Rio de Janeiro ghetto, a nothern Maine historical society, a funeral and a prison in Malawi, and the American Folk Festival in Bangor, Maine. A microphone is a passport.

On this edition of the Saltcast, we hear “‘Til Death Do Us Part” by former Salt radio student Sara Archambault. Sara’s mic took her to a funeral home where she a recorded a body being prepped for burial.

Where has your mic taken you?

Best, Rob

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Remembering the Cole

The USS Cole towed to sea with a hole blown in its side.Photo by Sgt. Don L. Maes, U.S. Marine Corps.

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On October 12, 2000, seventeen sailors were killed and dozens injured during an attack on the USS Cole in Yemen. Ten years later, Salt radio grad Matt Ozug produced a segment on the Cole for an hour-long documentary by America Abroad.

Matt was somewhat surprised at how reticent survivors of the attack were to be interviewed. Some had never spoken to the media. So, Matt says he tread lightly in his approach seeking permission for interviews. He says doors opened up when he contacted people via Facebook — a relatively new tool for journalists — and when the Captain of the Cole agreed to be interviewed.

What approaches do you use when first contacting an interviewee? Let us know. Post a thought to the blog. But, before you do, have a listen!

Best, Rob

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More Than Just Houses

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Salt radio student Georgia Moodie turned part of Salt’s somewhat standardized production process on its head. Maybe it’s because Georgia’s from Australia? (Sorry. Couldn’t help it.)

Typically, students write and edit scripts before producing a story in ProTools. Georgia produced a story first and wrote a script as she went.

This isn’t a production crime. In fact, it makes quite a bit of sense. The final product of a radio story is sound, not words on a page. So, you don’t want to stray too far the final medium when producing. Georgia’s piece is proof. Have a listen!

Best, Rob

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This Can Go On Forever

Carol Broebeck received this picture of her son from her social worker just after his adoption was completed. It was the last she saw of him until twenty years later when he turned up at her job — by surprise. (Photo courtesy Carol Broebeck via radio producer Shea Shackelford.)

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“Where do ideas for radio stories come from?” In the case of the award-winning documentary “This Can Go On Forever,” it came from a chance encounter at a regional listening group.

Producers Shea Shackelford and Virginia Millington met a the “DC Listening Lounge” in Washington, DC. They hit it off, started chatting about story ideas, and “poof” — a Third Coast award winner.

Of course, it wasn’t quite that simple. A considerable amount of time and effort and hand-wringing went into the production of this piece. But, the spark occurred at one of a growing number of listening “collectives” incubating audio creativity. The Association of Independents in Radio created a map locating several groups.

Before producing “This Can Go On Forever”, Virginia had never produced any radio at all. (She’s now an archivist at StoryCorps.) Shea is a graduate of the radio program at Salt. He is co-producer of the The Big Shed Podcast and NPR’s Place and Memory Project. I’m happy to present their stellar collaboration on this edition of the Saltcast.

Best, Rob

PS – Transom recently published a feature about several Salt radio graduates like Shea. Their “post-Salt” stories are inspiring. Pop on over to the article for a good read!


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After the Quake: Patients and Healers

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My brain tingled while interviewing Dan Grech for this Saltcast. Dan is the News Director at WLRN in southern Florida. He’s also a producer for the station’s public affairs program Under the Sun.

Early in 2010, Dan produced a story about four doctors who traveled to Haiti soon after the earthquake. One of the doctors videotaped part of the trip and captured a remarkable moment in a medical tent. Dan viewed the tape and said “Radio story!” So he interviewed the four doctors and mixed the interview tape with audio from the video.

But, Dan thought the piece needed a bit more sound. So, he added some tape recorded at a Haitian airport and from the medical tent — sound recorded long after the day of the video tape recording. And that begs the question: Can you do that? (Hence, the brain tingling.)

On this Saltcast, Dan and I discuss that very question and a few related ethical issues surrounding what could be called “mis-appropriated sound.”

Have a listen!

Best,

Rob

PS – Here’s a link to Dan’s Marketplace story referenced in the Saltcast. Mind you, it won’t make sense to listen to this without listening to the Saltcast first!!

PPS – CORRECTION – An earlier version of this podcast was posted with a mistake. I said that the audio of the tarmac and the medical tent was recorded “long after” the videotape recording. Not true. Those sounds were recorded at about the same time. The reposted version of this podcast corrects that mistake. Also, a shout out to Kenny Malone. Kenny worked with Dan Grech on this project and was responsible for, among many things, the overall production style of the piece.

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Jaz, A Cleaning Woman

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Producer Jamie York has decade long list of success in public radio. He’s worked with Dave Isay of StoryCorps fame, WNYC, American Radio Works, and Radio Rookies. He’s been at On the Media for six years. And, his first national broadcast was a doosey. In 2002. Jamie co-produced “Mohawk Iron Workers, Walking High Steel” as part of the Kitchen Sisters’ “Sonic Memorial Project.”

But, when Jamie thinks back to his time at Salt and the very first piece he ever produced he wonders “How the hell did I ever get a gig in radio?!”

On this Saltcast, Jamie publicly flogs himself over that first story “Jaz, A Cleaning Woman.”  Frankly, I think the piece is pretty good — a bit rough around the edges, but Jamie’s talent is clearly evident. Have a listen.

Cheers,

Rob

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Sit With Me

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I hope you’re sitting down. I’m going to say something heretical. Ready?

I’m kinda tired of StoryCorps.

Let me explain. On so many levels, StoryCorps is genius. It’s the nation’s largest oral history project — ever. And, it’s peer to peer (mostly) with people interviewing one another. The stories are heartfelt and honest. What could be better on the radio, right?

Problem is, I think the stories have become predictable. Not all the time, to be sure, but often.

On this Saltcast, we listen to a story produced at Salt several years ago that, in-house, we called “StoryCorps Plus.” Take a listen and let us know if you think the approach to recording and producing this story might be a way for StoryCorps to take their productions to the next level.

Cheers, Rob

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