Blog: Experiencing The World Through Radio

My main gig right now is editing audio for WUNC / American Public Media's show The Story. It's a daily hour long show about real people whose lives have been affected by our changing world. No experts, just incredibly brave people with stories to tell.

So instead of a policy discussion with a public health official about AIDS in the Southern U.S., they interview a woman battling the disease and a straight man fighting homophobia in an effort to reduce the spread of HIV. When radio is stripped of its experts and talking heads, hundreds of personal stories come bubbling to the surface and we truly learn what it's like to walk in someone else's shoes. To put it frankly, it's powerful stuff.

This month, I've had the pleasure to learn about tribal strife in Kenya from two friends on opposite sides of the culture war. I've been to the killing fields of Cambodia and walked alongside a young man searching for freedom. Right now, I'm peeking through the bathroom door as a photographer snaps a famous nude picture of Simone de Beauvoir.

Traveling the world without leaving my kitchen table is endlessly fascinating. I feel very lucky to have found such fulfilling work.

Redux: Back to its Classical Roots

With all its quirky attempts to reach a "younger, more diverse" audience (think Bryant Park Project and Tell Me More) you gotta admit: NPR is at its best when it sticks to what it does really, really well - classical music.

This WNYC production by the stellar Ann Heppermann and Kara Oehler combines clever editing, intriguing voices, and a genuine love for classical music. It's guaranteed to turn you into a Sir Simon Rattle fan, whether you're all about the symphony or still not sure whether to clap in between movements.

On a somewhat related note, Heppermann and Oehler never fail to blow me away with their creative approach to non-narrated radio. The way they juxtapose different voices to create new meaning in their richly textured stories almost always leads to unexpected sonic discoveries. I could listen all day.

Blog: All Hail AppleZ

Two of the finest keys known to man, Apple and Z, create become truly mighty when they combine their powers. A simple thumb and forefinger in tandem can transport you to a magical world where mistakes are instantly corrected and forgotten about.

I often have the urge to AppleZ other things in my life. Burnt dinner? AppleZ. Dumb drunken comment? Just AppleZ it. If only life was that simple...

Blog: Oh My Aching Eyes

I've been editing this one 86 minute file for the past three days and it's *still* 4 minutes too long. My eyes are bleary, my butt is numb, and to make matters worse, this man speaks English with a Cambodian/Texan accent. I think it's time for a break.

Blog: Comment Away!

Yep, with many thanks to Strange Bird Lab's Rich Orris, you can now comment on all the silly, inane, and vaguely thoughtful things Erin and I post here.

So go ahead, use that keyboard.

Photo by Sonic Julez

Redux: Ira Love Taken to the Next Level

So have you seen the pictures going around of the "I Heart Ira" underwear? I have, but I had no idea the story behind them until listening to this short segment from B-Side Radio with Tamara Keith. I'd post a pic of the undies, but found them a bit disturbing (though hilarious). For the uber-curious, check them out on Tamara's website.

Redux: Are All Opera Singers Diplomatic?

What Would Rob Do? is always a little dose of fun--if you've been listening to a lot of heavy radio, this is definitely the equivalent of a mini radio vacation. Rob, in his voice that sounds very Bill & Ted-esque, takes on the subject of opera singers in this episode. How do they protect their voices? What happens when they lose their voice - does the show still go on? And why is it that opera singer Jennifer Wilson credits her career with her diplomatic nature?

Blog: Diving Back In...

What I didn't expect when graduating from Salt was to go months without ever picking up my microphone (unless you count my day-long trip with one of my best friends to document her search for the perfect wedding dress). I left Salt inspired to make radio magic. But what happened instead was that my microphone and minidisc recorder stayed in a bag while life took over. Luckily for me, one of my jobs is in the radio field, serving as the membership gal for the Association of Independents in Radio. But, still, when people asked me if I was "making radio," my answer was always, "alas, no."

Yesterday I dusted off my mic and MD recorder and got back into the swing of things. I'm pulling together a short piece for this quirky and smart organization for an upcoming conference of theirs. So it's not like pulling together a radio documentary, exactly, but it's gathering the sounds of a place and producing something that's an accurate representation of both their day-to-day and also the spirit of the organization.

I spent all day recording the sound of footsteps on stairs, doors opening, buzz in the hallways in between meetings, the OfficeMax delivery guy arriving, people talking very passionately about the work that they do.

It was great. And also exhausting. And now I remember what it's like to go from feeling excited about recording and being in the field to worrying that I don't have enough good sound, to being overwhelmed at the amount of sound I did collect. Basically, no matter how you slice it, I'm overwhelmed. And stressed. But also happy to be back.

Blog: Procrastination, What's Your Station?

I'm entering my fourth month of freelancing from home after three years of crazy 60 hour weeks at my local NPR station. At first it felt like a dream come true - waking up whenever I want (instead of at 5am), sauntering downstairs with a cup of coffee and my computer - while still wearing my pj's, of course. But over the past few weeks (coincidentally as the weather has gotten nicer) I've realized that I'm not half as productive as I used to be. I spend my day checking twitter and RSS feeds and shopping for bridesmaid dresses online - all things I never could have fit into my previous work schedule. Somehow working from home makes procrastination not just acceptable, but down right encouraged.

So starting this morning, I'm back on schedule. I woke up at 6am to work on a freelance piece about DIY tech crafting (LED's, circuitry, and soldering, oh my!). I went for a quick run, followed by a shower - all before 10am. Back to work, then a break for lunch, networking, and blogging. In exactly four minutes I'll open up the file I'm editing about the Cambodian man who survived Khmer Rouge for WUNC / American Public Media's The Story. Edit audio until 5:30pm, crack open a beer, and congratulate myself on a day well spent.

What's my secret? A work-day moratorium all email, twitter, and RSS feeds so I'm never interrupted. It's just ProTools, Word, and Google for me. We'll see how long this lasts...

Blog: Deep Fried Southern Cambodian

This week I'm editing a story about a Cambodian refugee who became an American citizen after a harrowing experience with the Khmer Rouge in the 70's. As I wince, listening to him talk about killing fields and leg shackles, my mind wanders to a story I did last year about American truck drivers. Over and over. Throughout the 90 minute file, my mind keeps going back to those truck drivers, none have whom have experienced anything resembling this man's struggle for freedom. Why?

I finally figured it out. This Cambodian man came to North Carolina thirty years ago not speaking a word of English. So of course his heavy Cambodian accent is tinged with a Southern twang - that's where he learned to speak English. And it's not your standard N.C. accent either, it a slow drawl that sounds almost Texan, as if he's got a mini George Bush stuck in his throat. So now, as I'm doing the final edits on this man's incredible journey, all I can picture is a pint sized G. Dubyah yammering away behind his Adam's apple.

Mind's eye? It's time to close up shop so I can respect this man and get my work done in peace, thank you very much.

Photo by: Nika