Learn how to create compelling audio stories for podcasts and other applications.

Sep 9, 2024 - Sep 13, 2024

Levels: Beginner, Intermediate,
Workshop Fee: $1395
Workshop Duration: 1-week (Monday-Friday)
Workshop Location: On-campus
Class Size: 12

This week is for the beginning audio storyteller who wants to learn how audio stories for radio and podcasts are collected, constructed, and published.

In this workshop, we’ll explore the technological and methodological basics of capturing and shaping compelling stories. We’ll discuss the components of good storytelling and apply proven storytelling strategies to your work, from finding a good idea, choosing an unexpected and resonant angle, and exploring character, movement, pace, and story arc. We’ll delve into ambient and scene sound — how to identify it and capture it, and how to structure a story using interviews and ambient tape.  Emphasis will be placed on understanding what makes a great story and using the tools of audio to bring it to life. You’ll gather field audio and learn how to script, voice, and edit it into finished pieces. 

Woman talking into a microphone during a podcast

By examining some successful pieces, we’ll discuss why they work, how they were achieved, and where applicable, how audio fits into multimedia stories. You will be asked to find a story during your time at the workshop, and in the second half of your week, you will record your story and edit it. The course will cover the technical aspects of recording audio on professional equipment as well as audio editing and mixing on industry-standard software.

Participants will gain insight into:

  • The difference between storytelling on the page and storytelling for the ear
  • How to shape a 3- or 4-minute feature story or audio essay
    Choosing characters and excavating their wants, needs, obstacles and what’s at stake in the choices they’re making
  • Recording equipment and best practices using different types of microphones with hand-held Zoom recorders
  • How to voice your story for the most impactful and natural delivery
  • Editing software: the basics of assembling an audio story with interviews and natural sound 
  • How to create a narrative piece
  • Best practices for conducting interviews (from capturing strong content to tips for gathering clean, editable sound).

In addition to the hands-on work of gathering and editing audio stories, we will listen to existing radio and podcast excerpts to extend learning so that students will better understand the wide range of possible applications across mediums. 

No previous knowledge of digital editing is necessary.

Leave with a new skill set, understanding what it takes to create effective audio stories.

Image credit: Aidan Bliss, Header image credit: Laurie Boucherbeech.

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Instructor: Elaine Appleton Grant

Elaine Appleton Grant is the CEO of Podcast Allies, an audio storytelling consulting, production, and training company helping public media, nonprofits, social impact, and higher education organizations make beautifully crafted shows. 

Elaine is the host and executive producer of the podcast Sound Judgment, which takes listeners into the studios — and the minds — of your favorite audio storytellers. Research shows listeners become fans when they fall in love with the host — but hosting is the least taught skill in podcasting! She also writes Sound Judgment, the newsletter, about creative choices in audio storytelling. Earworthy calls the podcast + newsletter “a master class in podcasting.”

A lifelong journalist, Elaine worked for Boston’s WBUR, NH Public Radio, and Colorado Public Radio. She wrote and produced Wondery’s hit show Business Wars Daily and wrote the Tulsa Race Massacre series for American History Tellers. Her TEDx talk about the Tulsa Race Massacre has been viewed almost 125,000 times. She has spoken for organizations including Inbound, the Public Radio Program Directors Association (PRPD), Women of Denver, University of Colorado, Podcast Movement, the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, and the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications.