The Audio Documentary course offers in-depth stories told through vivid narratives and natural sound. Students create well-researched, richly reported audio interviews and features. Emphasis is placed on developing advanced interviewing techniques, solid ethics working within communities, a sophisticated understanding of narrative tension and arc, and the deft use of scene and character within a well-told story.
Students begin the semester by dissecting the work of seminal audio documentaries, including David Isay’s Ghetto Life 101, Joe Richman’s Teenage Diaries, and the original 1971 All Things Considered broadcast, which began with a 21- minute report on the May Day Tribe protest of the Vietnam War.
From this historical perspective, students trace the origins of today’s storytelling “movement” in an effort to understand our current climate — one founded on the idea that everyone has a story worth hearing. Students are challenged to examine this “truth” as it relates to their pitches throughout the semester and especially for their final project: a 10- to 12-minute audio feature.
Using oral history methods, students sharpen both their listening and interviewing skills and gain an appreciation for the social science and ethnographic grounding at work in the most impactful oral history research, which sheds light on little known or understood topics of social significance via personal biography.