English 386-Documentary Radio
Documentary Radio at Colby College is a course in writing and producing narrative pieces for radio. Through assignments of increasing complexity, students learn how to tell stories in sound. Each class started with some listening, which provided a model for class assignments as well as an introduction to some of the best documentary radio being produced today. With the help of staff from Media Resources and the Language Resource Center in ITS, students learned how to use recording equipment and sound editing software. This class focused on writing for radio, interviewing, storytelling, editing, and producing. Over the course of the semester, students took field trips around campus to look at Colby’s sound facilities and learned how to use the sound booth in Runnals Theater. In the Spring 2012 semester, students visited a detention center in Portland where they met with juvenile residents who were learning how to make their own radio stories. Also, during the Spring 2012 semester, students spent a class with independent reporter and radio producer Michael May, who has produced pieces for This American Life, Studio 360, and Marketplace and is currently teaching at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in southern Maine.
By the end of this class, students were to have learned radio documentary basics. They listened to examples of some of the best radio being produced as a model for how to structure and produce their own pieces.
The project goal was to work with a nonprofit organization and create a 30 second and a 60 second Public Service Announcement.
“I remember feeling intimidated by the project at first. The idea of interviewing someone and then cutting a piece down to such short time slots seemed impossible, but it was actually more intuitive than I thought. I interviewed Jamie at the Family Violence Project and she was wonderful to work with and gave me a lot of great quotes that I could incorporate into the piece. The project was rewarding not only because it taught us how to tell good stories through radio, but because we got to work with such strong organizations.” —Zoe, ’12
30 second PSA :
60 second PSA :