NPR Junkie Puts Money Where Mouth Is


April 25, 2012 by 8junebugs

Ennnhhh. Not that much money.

Tonight I’m taking my first class through Skillshare:

Making Beautiful Stories: Interviewing, Editing + Audiojournalism

I’ve got a boatload of reasons for this, not the least of which is the GIANT, GAPING hole in my skillset where Multimedia Production should be (Reason #1). Seriously, you’d think I’d have gotten more involved in A/V stuff somewhere along my otherwise bizarro career path, but no. I’m the Words Person, and I’ve always been most comfortable with those words when they remain unspoken.

Could be because my writing style lends itself to the page and not the voice. Could be because the sound of my own recorded voice has always creeped me out. (I am not alone in this. If you want to shut someone up fast, play their own voice back at them.)


I have a wild, enduring fascination with capturing stories (Reason #2). I firmly, deeply believe that everyone has a story, and that that story matters. If we can count on nothing else in this life, we can count on this: No one, anywhere, shares our exact life story. Shared experiences draw us closer and cement the bonds between us, but it’s the personal permutations of experience that make us who and what we are.

This is why I’m addicted to This American Life and Radiolab. This is why I claimed all the family photos from my mom’s house, stole Dad’s copy of Gingras Family Marriages, and am determined to have Graham’s mom narrate a trip through her photo albums. This is why I will be your grandmother’s favorite of all your friends — given the opportunity, I will sit for hours and listen to her talk about how she got from wherever she started to your front porch.

And then I’ll want to tell someone else about it, because trained reporters are inveterate storytellers. (Or gossips…YMMV.)

Here’s the thing, though. My story? Best told in my voice. Your story is better — or, at least, more authentically — told in your voice. (Reason #3) Audiojournalism gets me out of the way and helps me curate a story without sticking my voice in where it doesn’t belong.

That “sit and listen to grandma tell stories” thing is a skill I developed too late to put down my own grandmothers’ stories…more’s the pity, as they had some tales to tell, and the phrases they used are as much a part of who they were as their favorite colors and recipes.

Even if I had been paying enough attention to sit down and get my own family’s oral history out of its matriarchs, I’m not even ashamed to admit that I never would’ve gotten around to transcribing it. Because wow, do I hate that task. And even though one skill-less professor demanded that I record a podcast for a grade, I wouldn’t have known how to edit the audio for impact and clarity.

Until now, presumably. This class ought to give me a better idea of how to actually use the free software the aforementioned professor made us download (Audacity). This is one of those things I learn best from someone who knows how to do it, not just where to find it (Reason #4).

As for Reason #5…well. About two weeks before Mom died, I bought a digital recorder (something like this one) with the intention of just having her tell stories in its general direction. I’ve still never used it, beyond testing it.

I think it deserves to hear some good stories, don’t you?


2 thoughts on “NPR Junkie Puts Money Where Mouth Is

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I do.

    A friend of mine uses Audacity and she says it’s pretty easy to use. I need to download it myself, for an entirely different reason, though I have a secret plan of starting a storytelling podcast (the only thing that’s holding me back is the perfect name, which I had, until it was stolen by the Beatles 😉 which it might also come in handy for.

    I want you to come interview my grandparents!

    • 8junebugs says:

      Audacity is definitely easy to use and outrageously robust for a free tool. Their documentation isn’t bad, either, but my learning style requires a guru in this area. One can spend HOURS digging into all the features.

      I would very much love to interview your grandparents. 🙂 One of my dream jobs is building out a massive collection of family stories that can be passed down through generations. Considering how much easier it’s gotten to capture personal stories, I feel a little…unmoored when I think about how many we’re losing.

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