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The Long Game

facebook_profile_180x180_mediumI recently finished work on another hour-long doc by producer Trey Key: The Long Game: Texas’ Ongoing Battle for the Direction of the Classroom.

For more than a half a century, citizens of the Lone Star State have had intense, emotional battles over what children should and shouldn’t be taught in public school classrooms.   While there have been fights over just about every academic subject, debates over history, evolution, God and country generate the most heat. In many ways, Texans are stuck.  Some believe teachers should lay out relevant facts before students and have them draw their own conclusions. Others believe there should be particular values —perhaps absolute values— added into the mix to help guide students.

Listen to the full doc below.

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Interview on WAMC’s 51%

I recently spoke with WAMC’s Susan Barnett for her show 51% – The Women’s Perspective. She asked me about freelancing and gave a nice shout out to my site Freelance Cafe. It was fun to be on the other side of the mic for a change!

This was Episode 1220, broadcast on November 29 at 8pm and again on December 5 at 3pm.

Here’s a blurb about the show:

In America, women make up more than half the population. Worldwide, women are expected to outnumber men within the next fifty years. And every issue we face is one that affects us all. 

Whether it’s the environment, health, our children, politics or the arts, there’s a women’s perspective, and 51% is a show dedicated to that viewpoint. 

Host Susan Barnett talks to experts in their field for a wide-ranging, entertaining discussion of issues that not only fall into the traditional ‘women’s issues’ category, but topics that concern us all as human beings and citizens of the global community.

Tune to 51% weekly throughout the U. S. on public and community radio stations, some ABC Radio Network stations, Armed Forces Radio stations around the world and on the Internet. 

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CUNY Podcasting Panel

On October 22, I was part of the The CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s “Pimp your Podcast” Panel with Amanda Aronczyk (moderator), Jim Colgan of Soundcloud, Adam Davidson of Planet Money, and Ashley Milne-Tyte, producer of the amazing podcast The Broad Experience. We talked about the differences between online audio and broadcast radio and how to sell a podcast idea to a funder or news organization, among other things.

‘Pimp Your Podcast’ Panel – October 22, 2012 from CUNY Grad School of Journalism on Vimeo.

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Project Word – ExxonMobil and Aceh

I spent a good chunk of this summer and fall editing the radio portion of a multimedia project with my old boss from Terrain Magazine and a kickass young reporter Emily Johnson. This was for Project Word, a non-for-profit that helps give voice to underrepresented journalists and stories.

It’s the story of oil giant ExxonMobil and the atrocities they committed in Aceh, Indonesia, all wrapped up in many years of civil unrest and a highly complicated Supreme Court case. It’s one of the most challenging pieces I’ve worked on.

The radio piece ended up airing on Free Speech Radio News. Print versions ran in the Dallas Morning News and Mother Jones online. The full multimedia package is HERE.

Images: (left) Indonesian men cycle past the enormous Arun natural gas fields in the Aceh, Indonesia. File 2001/The Associated Press. (right) A rice farmer in front of the ExxonMobil facility in Lhoksukon, Aceh. Photo by Emily Johnson.

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The Tape Sync

I have done dozens of tape syncs as a freelancer and I rarely get to hear how the tape I gather gets used. But this time was different. My friend and fellow j-school graduate Tamara Keith needed sound from Schoharie, NY, a city that was hit hard by Hurricane Irene. So I drove up there and met Harold Vroman and Alicia Terry, held the mic while Tamara interviewed them over the phone from DC, and then had them show me around town. I sent the tape to Tamara from the parking lot of the Schoharie Free Library, and she wrote this story.

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duPont Awards – The Great Textbook War

Yet another award for Trey Kay’s The Great Textbook War. This was a biggie – the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards – celebrating the year’s best in broadcast journalism. Trey invited the whole team to celebrate with him at the awards ceremony in NYC, hosted by the Today Show’s Lester Holt and CNN’s Soledad O’Brien. (I got to shake her hand!) It was such a treat to share the stage with such a talented group of journalists (mostly super-slick TV folks and this ragtag band of indie producers.) 🙂 And so great to meet fellow producers Deb George and Anna Sale, and to hang with Jonathan Mitchell again. Go indies!!

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2010 Third Coast Festival Short Doc Competition

I just completed this piece for the 2010 Third Coast Festival Short Doc competition.

All You Need Is a Wall: A meditation on big changes, building walls, and breaking them down again.

This year’s assignment:

For the 2010 ShortDocs Challenge – Book Odds – we teamed up with The Books, IOHO one of the most inventive and creative bands making music today. With the help of Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong we chose eight audio samples from their vast library of sonic offerings, and four song titles from their record The Way Out. Then we issued an open call to “make radio” – short audio stories including at least two of the samples, and named after one of the song titles: “A Cold Freezin Night,” “All You Need is a Wall,” “Chain of Missing Links,” “I Didn’t Know That.”


buzz note
strange town
winding coinbox
with youououou

sonic doodads

clarinet clock loop
eros vibraphone
note manual

I chose All You Need Is a Wall, inspired by the many stone walls I see in my new home in upstate NY, and my neighbor Jody, who used to be a stone mason.

As a freelancer, there are so few opportunities to do truly creative work with sound. The folks at Third Coast give us an opportunity to do just that – to think about sound in new ways, challenging us to break out of our day jobs and get creative. The winners get all expenses paid to the conference in October, but for me, it’s not about winning. It’s about doing a piece that I feel good about. (Incidentally, I didn’t win. But I had a great time at the conference.)

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2007 Third Coast Festival Short Doc Competition

Every couple years, the Third Coast Festival sponsors the “Short Doc” competition – to find the best short audio pieces, 3-minutes or less, around a certain theme. In 2007, this was the assignment:

Dollar Storeys invited seasoned producers and radio fans alike to submit short audio works inspired by one of three items purchased at a dollar store: a ceramic mug sporting a feisty feminist message, a 4-pack of wooden mousetraps, and an old-school bicycle bell.

I chose the bike bell, inspired by my friend Arwen, whose bike (and bike bell in the shape of a burger) was stolen many times in San Francisco.

My Bike Had a Burger Bell: A Tragic Tale of Loss and Woe: a true story about bike commuting, theft and making the best of a bad situation.

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The Great Textbook War

I had the great fortune to work on this hour-long radio documentary with producer Trey Key, who won a 2010 Peabody Award for the piece. Trey recorded his scratch tracks in my new home studio, and I’m hoping that sets the bar high for the work that will be produced out of there. I edited the scratch tracks and did a rough mix of the full doc which was a lot of fun. Great to work on a project that gets some well-deserved recognition! Listen to the final, full-length doc here.

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