Posts tagged radio

An Incredible Audio Archive in the Making

Nieman Lab:

Anne Wootton and Bailey Smith, winners of a $300,000 Knight News Challenge grant, are the creators of Pop Up Archive. They are building open-source software and partnering with the Internet Archive to streamline the entire workflow of a radio producer — from ingestion to cataloging to eventual distribution.

“What’s closest to our heart is saving oral history. It’s actually easier to lose your material that’s digital than it is to lose something that was on a tape,” Smith told me. Data gets corrupted, or just lost. Thousands of files called 000001.WAV become meaningless to humans.

FJP: Oh man. This will be so incredibly useful. 

Bonus: Here’s an FJP interview with David Gerlach, founder of Blank on Blank, which is slightly different and equally awesome.

30 Days, 30 Lost Interviews

Last week I met with David Gerlach, founder and creator of Blank on Blank, a nonprofit that salvages, archives and remixes audio recordings journalists submit from their past interviews.

Visit the site now and you’ll see and hear from Allen Ginsberg, Thom Yorke, Dave Brubeck and even Jonathan Alter on how to interview presidents.

Blank on Blank currently has a Kickstarter campaign up and running. Aside from the $10,000 they hope to raise, they’re also trying to “raise” 30 new interviews. Have a great one on your hard drive or in a shoe box? Visit Blank on Blank and tell them about it.

In the Q&A below, we discuss how Blank on Blank started, how it works with Public Radio Exchange to distribute these lost interviews and give them new life, and what it means to remix an old audio interview. — Michael

FJP: What is Blank on Blank? What’s its origin story?
David Gerlach: Blank on Blank’s mission is simple: turn print journalists’ lost interview tapes into new unheard multimedia. We are a nonprofit transforming journalists’ interviews gathered to write stories, into a new podcast, public radio series, and collection of animated shorts on YouTube. The future of journalism? Remixing the past.

FJP: Why is archiving, salvaging and ultimately repurposing this material important?
David: So many remarkable stories are in danger of being lost forever. Yet there is a huge mobile, online, and radio audience that wants to hear them. As a former print journalist I always thought about these amazing conversations I had on tape that no one ever got to hear after I finished a story. There is something about hearing someone tell a story in an intimate setting versus reading what was said. We want to help print journalists expand their portfolios and realize the untapped value of the interviews gathering dust on their tapes and computer hard drives. It’s about rebooting and striking back in the face of a print media world that’s been turned upside down. Plus it’s easy to do.

FJP: When you get an audio interview in, what happens next?
David: We take a listen and and cull the interviews for the must-hear outtakes. We want evergreen stories. Unexpected conversations from the well known and universal tales from everyday Americans. Then our talented public radio-seasoned producers polish and edit the audio, add some music and storytelling, and a Blank on Blank is born. We turn most interviews into smart audio slideshows. And cartoonists, illustrators, filmmakers, graphic artists, and photographers turn these pieces into inventive videos that live on YouTube and beyond.

FJP: I’ve seen Blank on Blank production on PRX. What’s that all about? How and where is this material being used and distributed?
David: The Public Radio Exchange (PRX.org) is a phenomenal partner. They distribute both our new podcast and our interview segments to public radio stations. So now Blank on Blank content is being heard on stations across the country, as well as on XM Satellite radio. PRX is also home to The Moth Radio Hour, WTF with Marc Maron, and 99% Invisible, so we are honored to be in such must-hear company.

FJP: How can journalists get involved?
David: It’s easy. Have an interview or an interview excerpt you think should be heard? Go to http://blankonblank.org/your-interviews/ and tell us about it. Maybe there was an aside, an anecdote, or unbelievable story that came up when reporting a story. Or one that didn’t make it into print, but it always stuck with you. Perhaps there is a choice back and forth you think encapsulates an article or book you are writing now or years ago. Think of this as a multimedia sidebar to reach whole new audiences. Then all it takes is uploading the digital interview file to our storage cloud (or getting us a tape). From there we do all the production work. We also welcome any and all editorial input and do love recording our contributors to set the scene for their interview, if they’d like to.

FJP: You have a Kickstarter up and running, what do you plan to do with the funds if you raise them?
David: We’ve launched a slightly different kind of Kickstarter. This funding platform has become such a creative force we thought it was an ideal place to raise not only money ($10,000), but content. We’re looking to raise 30 lost interviews in 30 days - the best unheard conversations from journalists that have never been heard. The best excerpts from these interviews will be transformed and shared with new audiences. Funds raised on Kickstarter will go directly to covering audio and video production costs.

FJP: Why should a journalist or a publication partner with Blank on Blank?
David: Why shouldn’t they? We make it nearly effortless for our contributors to get more mileage from work that’s already been done. They reach new listening and video audiences simply by getting us an interview, raising the awareness of the journalist, the publication, and even driving a new audience back to the original print stories. We’ll take it from there. Our contributors keep the rights to their original interviews and get a new piece of multimedia to host on their website. Plus Blank on Blanks are perfect for spreading via social media.  Our sole mission as a non-profit is to preserve journalists’ interviews and bring your work to life.

pushinghoopswithsticks:

[via]

FJP: Brilliant.

Speed-produced Longshot Radio to make its next episode this week with Radiolab, in 48 hours, with everybody
Think improv where you can cry if you want, and where there’s no stage or troupe - just a booth and a microphone. From their camp at the 99% Conference (which doesn’t have anything to do with Occupy Wall Street) theme-based Longshot Radio will release a series of radio pieces on experimentation and the times when risks don’t pan out. And they’ll do it really fast.
There are many ways to become involved from anywhere, all of which are clearly spelled out here.
And seeing as how the show asks passersby to go out on a limb and tell a personal story, we asked executive producer Jody Avirgan to share some of his experiments-gone-wrong, and how he and his friends managed to create something so unique. He told us this:

Certainly at 4am on Sunday last time around, we were questioning the whole endeavor. But, yes, the idea is to not be afraid to try things, and to react to each little failure with a tweak and an adjustment, rather than throwing up your hands. So, there are countless moments where you have a big idea (“we should get people from every country in the world to remix the same radio piece in the next four hours”) that butts up against possible failure. You then adjust, and find other unexpected victories.

Speed-produced Longshot Radio to make its next episode this week with Radiolab, in 48 hours, with everybody

Think improv where you can cry if you want, and where there’s no stage or troupe - just a booth and a microphone. From their camp at the 99% Conference (which doesn’t have anything to do with Occupy Wall Street) theme-based Longshot Radio will release a series of radio pieces on experimentation and the times when risks don’t pan out. And they’ll do it really fast.

There are many ways to become involved from anywhere, all of which are clearly spelled out here.

And seeing as how the show asks passersby to go out on a limb and tell a personal story, we asked executive producer Jody Avirgan to share some of his experiments-gone-wrong, and how he and his friends managed to create something so unique. He told us this:

Certainly at 4am on Sunday last time around, we were questioning the whole endeavor. But, yes, the idea is to not be afraid to try things, and to react to each little failure with a tweak and an adjustment, rather than throwing up your hands. So, there are countless moments where you have a big idea (“we should get people from every country in the world to remix the same radio piece in the next four hours”) that butts up against possible failure. You then adjust, and find other unexpected victories.

This American Life Retraction Transcript for Daisey Foxconn Episode

Via Ira Glass, This American Life:

I should say, I am not happy to have to come to you and tell you that something that we presented on the radio as factual is not factual. All of us in public radio stand together and I have friends and colleagues on lots of other shows who – like us here at This American Life – work hard to do accurate, independent reporting week in, week out. I and my coworkers on This American Life are not happy to have done anything to hurt the reputation of the journalism that happens on this radio station every day. So we want to be completely transparent about what we got wrong, and what we now believe is the truth.

And let’s just get to it.

The transcript walks us through Mike Daisey’s trip to China to investigate labor conditions at Foxconn, and leads to an interview between Marketplace’s Rob Schmitz, Ira Glass and Daisey himself.

Babes of NPR: It’s definitely a thing.
If you’ve ever been told you have a face for radio, you know it’s not a compliment. These public radio employees disprove the stereotype that radio is where homely journalists go to hide themselves. Babes of NPR is a Tumblr blog that features photos and descriptions of some of public radio’s most recognizable voices, as well as the young and ravishing staff that make our favorite shows happen.
Pictured above is my high school classmate Benjamin (Benny) Bergman, a producer on Morning Edition, one of NPR’s flagship broadcasts. Who says you can’t work in radio and have it all?

Babes of NPR: It’s definitely a thing.

If you’ve ever been told you have a face for radio, you know it’s not a compliment. These public radio employees disprove the stereotype that radio is where homely journalists go to hide themselves. Babes of NPR is a Tumblr blog that features photos and descriptions of some of public radio’s most recognizable voices, as well as the young and ravishing staff that make our favorite shows happen.

Pictured above is my high school classmate Benjamin (Benny) Bergman, a producer on Morning Edition, one of NPR’s flagship broadcasts. Who says you can’t work in radio and have it all?

Ira Glass: ‘Who cares if radio survives? Something else will happen’

It’s a predictable but important question, whenever you get a group of successful radio storytellers in a room. Will the medium survive? Or rather, do talented people still need the traditional institutions of radio to do good work?
Apparently this is the magic question that activates Angry Ira Glass.
At WFMU’s Radiovision Festival last Saturday, Ira Glass (This American Life), Marc Maron (WTF), and Tom Scharpling (The Best Show On WFMU) gathered for a panel discussion about, among other things, the future of the craft. Eventually, moderator Therese Mahler asked the magic question.
Glass replied, agitated: “For some reason radio seems to survive, and I believe it’s because as long as there are cars with radios and people are lazy, people will get into a car and turn on a radio.”
Later, he continued: “It’s disturbingly nostalgic. I mean, who cares if it survives? Who cares if radio survives? Like, something else will happen,” Glass said. When Maron pressed him for what, exactly, that might be, Glass struggled to come up with an answer.

I love that photoshop job. haha. Ira is right, sound is malleable. It’ll be fine. 
for the rest of the article and a link the the 5 min conversation, see Niemanlab.

Ira Glass: ‘Who cares if radio survives? Something else will happen’

It’s a predictable but important question, whenever you get a group of successful radio storytellers in a room. Will the medium survive? Or rather, do talented people still need the traditional institutions of radio to do good work?

Apparently this is the magic question that activates Angry Ira Glass.

At WFMU’s Radiovision Festival last Saturday, Ira Glass (This American Life), Marc Maron (WTF), and Tom Scharpling (The Best Show On WFMU) gathered for a panel discussion about, among other things, the future of the craft. Eventually, moderator Therese Mahler asked the magic question.

Glass replied, agitated: “For some reason radio seems to survive, and I believe it’s because as long as there are cars with radios and people are lazy, people will get into a car and turn on a radio.”

Later, he continued: “It’s disturbingly nostalgic. I mean, who cares if it survives? Who cares if radio survives? Like, something else will happen,” Glass said. When Maron pressed him for what, exactly, that might be, Glass struggled to come up with an answer.

I love that photoshop job. haha. Ira is right, sound is malleable. It’ll be fine. 

for the rest of the article and a link the the 5 min conversation, see Niemanlab.

Happy Halloween from the FJP
Bonus points, Part 01: Vintage Horror Radio (via iTunes).
Bonus points, Part 02: The Longform.org Guide to Creeps and Creepiness.
Bonus points, Part 03: Close Your Ears, a Slate review of Tales from Beyond the Pale, neu-Radio Horror storytelling.
Bonus points, Part 04: War of the Worlds 1938 Radio Broadcast.
Image: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, by Tom Whalen.

Happy Halloween from the FJP

Bonus points, Part 01: Vintage Horror Radio (via iTunes).

Bonus points, Part 02: The Longform.org Guide to Creeps and Creepiness.

Bonus points, Part 03: Close Your Ears, a Slate review of Tales from Beyond the Pale, neu-Radio Horror storytelling.

Bonus points, Part 04War of the Worlds 1938 Radio Broadcast.

Image: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, by Tom Whalen.

Today is World Population Day and to commemorate it, ViewChange.org is showcasing 20 films about population issues.

Shown here is “Love and Life: Live on Air”, the story of a 20-year-old Ugandan radio journalist who hosts a show that attempts to dispel myths and misunderstandings about (safe) sex.

From the transcript:

RADIO HOST
Hey yo, what’s up guys? This is the Straight Talk radio show. It is fun, educative and hilarious. Stay tuned.

RADIO CALLER 1
Dear Straight Talk radio: If I put toothpaste on my penis before sex, will my girlfriend get pregnant?

RADIO CALLER 2
Dear Straight Talk: I’ve missed my period for two months. Am I pregnant?

VOICEOVER
Uganda, in east Africa, has many problems relating to sexual and reproductive health. In lots of cases, young people’s lack of sex education is to blame.

MAN 1
Is it true that if you drink a lot soda and have sex with an HIV-infected person, you cannot get the virus?

The rest of this documentary can be viewed on ViewChange.org.

Filthy Lucre

Radio hosts make serious coin pimping for their sponsors.

Via Politico:

If you’re a regular listener of Glenn Beck’s radio show and you wanted to contribute to a political group that would advance the populist conservative ideals he touts on his show, you’d have plenty of reason to think that FreedomWorks was your best investment.

But if you’re a fan of Mark Levin’s radio show, you’d have just as much cause to believe that Americans for Prosperity, a FreedomWorks rival, was the most effective conservative advocacy group. And, if Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity are who you listen to, you’d be hearing a steady stream of entreaties to support the important work of the Heritage Foundation.

That’s not coincidence. In search of donations and influence, the three prominent conservative groups are paying hefty sponsorship fees to the popular talk show hosts. Those fees buy them a variety of promotional tie-ins, as well as regular on-air plugs – praising or sometimes defending the groups, while urging listeners to donate – often woven seamlessly into programming in ways that do not seem like paid advertising

I sure wish we could get rid of that word “content” to refer to writing, photography, drawing, and design online. The very word breathes indifference — why would one bother about the quality of work when it’s referred to as “content”? I’m sorry to respond to your good question with a cranky diatribe, but this word has crept from New Media over to Radio Broadcasting where I live in my little cave and now my Show has become Content and is sent around to stations in a nice digital package that squashes the sound. Public radio, which holds itself up as a believer in quality, is cutting corners on all sides and I see this perfidious word “content” as part of the downward slide. I loathe the word. It’s like referring to Omaha [Beach] as a development.

Garrison Keillor, host of NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion, answering a question about how he creates content for his show.

British Journal of Photography, Photography as “Content”.

120 plays

An audio collage — or postcard — is a great technique for capturing the resonant ambience of that which you’re reporting on.

WNYC’s Brian Lehrer used it yesterday as he explored potential Republican presidential candidates for the 2012 election. (For those outside the United States, our election cycle is an endless processional that begins pretty much after the last once ends.)

If my ears are tuned correctly I think the sound bites run thus: Donald Trump, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachman, Haley Barbour, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and, I think, Tim Pawlenty.

Did I get it right?

This Is NPR: The First Forty Years.

Now available as a book (the print kind), and audio (the book kind).

Noah Adams discusses the project here.