Flatline Days

Flatline Days_01

Hillary Hebert takes a break after talking about motherhood and bi-polar disorder. Photo by Keith Lane.


Radio producers have a many tools to craft a story. Narration. Writing. Quotes from interviews. Ambient sound. Active tape. Music.

What about art?

We don’t teach “sound art” at Salt, but we do wonder from time-to-time how a feature might benefit from using sound art to tell a story. In particular, how can a producer artistically use sound to convey more than what just words and ambiance alone communicate?

I try to answer this question with a student-produced piece profiling Hillary Hebert, a mother with bi-polar disorder. The piece is called “Flatline Days” and it was produced by Catherine Spangler in the spring of 2009. Catherine used a little bit of sound art to convey what happens in Hillary’s mind during a manic phase. Catherine assembled a short montage of quotes then layered and panned them over the sound of fast footsteps to portray ideas popping in Hillary’s head. Take a listen and let us know if you think it works.

If you’re intrigued by sound art, here are a few sites to get you going.




joan schuman

gregory whitehead

peter leonhard braun

hildegard westercamp

list of sound artists





  1. 3 Responses to “Flatline Days”

  2. By Emily on May 22, 2012

    I think the sound art works because it’s not too “out there.” It is subtle, and it doesn’t change the documentary feel of the piece.

  3. By Hilary Hebert on Mar 10, 2015

    Hilary with one L…. This was a long time ago. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia while this was being taped. I didn’t want to hate that. Since this time. I have stopped all medication, became a leader in my field, continued to be an amazing Mom, found out what recovery is and how the term “mental illness” held me down. My wonderful kiddos are 13 and almost 12 now. They are amazing. I will always will continue to be open and honest about my personal struggle, I will also continue share my experience. I was raised in a cult, life was confusing. I am living. I have an amazing family, a wonderful career. I can be open and honest. I am real. This was a start to recovery. It wasn’t the end result. ….I am grateful that I was open as much as I could be, I am sad, because discrimination didn’t allow me to be truly honest. And I am proud of the family I have, the career I have worked for, and the husband I am amazed by. Recovery from a mental illness (in quotes) is possible. It’s called life. I have it. I love it. I feel da seeing this now. I have struggled and grown so much. If this girl in voice and picture only knew….

  4. By Rob on Mar 11, 2015

    Hi Hilary, So glad to hear you’re doing well. Thanks for writing. I’ll let Kat know you wrote. Cheers – Rob

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