I was interviewed by Canadian producer Michelle Macklam for an article she wrote for the CBC’s Doc Project titled When the personal becomes public: the art of making intimate radio documentaries.
After producing her beautiful documentary Longing To Belong – about an adopted woman who reconnects with her biological parents – Michelle had questions about the different approaches and experiences of radio producers who work with these kinds of personal stories. My own PhD research is exploring these same questions, so we had lots to talk about.
There are also interviews with some of my favourite radio producers – Neil Sandell, Mira Burt-Wintonnik, and Tally Abecassis. I really liked the way the article came together. It’s so nice to have all these thoughts and perspectives in one place.
I recently presented the creative practice component of my PhD at the International Radio Conference at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. I led a 90 minute listening session and discussion which featured my 2 part radio documentary Murder in a Small Town.
It was a slightly terrifying but incredibly valuable experience to listen to my audio work in a room full of people and receive feedback. It was also great to unpack some of the ideas I’m exploring in my research. After completing the creative practice component of my PhD I’m interested in a closer examination of the relationship between the producer/storyteller and subject/storyteller, how this shapes the documentary process, and in turn, the final documentary product. I feel very lucky to spend more time with these ideas and I’m looking forward to digging deeper over the coming years.
While I was overseas I also visited and interviewed Danish radio making legend Rikke Houd. This recording will contribute to a series of research interviews I’m collecting about the different experiences of radio producers who work with personal narratives in their documentary work. I’m drawing on Rikke’s award winning radio piece Woman on the Ice. There’s a particular sensitivity in this style of radio that I deeply admire, and I loved spending time with Rikke and learning more about her storytelling approaches.
Producers from all over Australia descended on 107 projects for our first Audiocraft conference on March 5th 2016 and it was an incredible! I knew that audio folk were great, but seriously- I don’t think I appreciated just how amazing it would feel to have so many of these awesome individuals in the one place at the one time. Our community of Aussie makers is thriving and it was so great to hear about all the podcast and radio projects people are working on. The room was buzzing with creative energy and good vibes. So good.
Our stellar line up of presenters got the conversations going and my head is still buzzing with all the ideas. Bec Fary and Jon Thjia had us independent podcast dreaming, and Timothy Nicastri and Miyuki Jokiranta took us deep into the wonders of sound design with new skills to boot. Joel Werner and Tiger Webb had everyone talking about sound stories with decomposing pigs, and Sophie Townsend and Jaye Kranz cracked open the mystical box of narrative radio. Our kicker panel on collaborative storytelling with Maddy Macfarlane, Kween G, Gavin Ivey and Giordana Caputo covered all the things we need to think about when working with other peoples stories and how to keep our radio making integrity in check. Then Sherre Delys wrapped the day up with her lyrical wonders reflecting back all the positivity and good times of the day. Stay tuned for the podcast of all the sessions.
It’s going to take a while to come down from this one. And we’re already plotting ideas for 2017….! In the mean time, we can’t wait to hear the entries for our first Audiocraft’s Short Feature Making Challenge
I had heaps of fun chatting with fellow audio nerds Jaye Kranz, Tiger Webb and Heidi Pett on the Radio Gaga panel at Melbourne’s Emerging Writers Festival. We shared ideas about radio’s ‘New Journalism’ phase and how the role of the narrator might be shifting from a traditionally objective standpoint to a more subjective voice.
There are mixed feelings about this trend which is often seen as a shift to a more American style of radio. But I think it’s a great opportunity for producers to be a little less stodgy, or authoritative, and perhaps be more transparent about their role as storytellers within their work. We often make radio about things we genuinely care about, and as long as we don’t start stepping all over the story unnecessarily, an active voice might inject an authenticity into the work that we want to share. It might also help develop different creative audio styles and more distinct producer voices. You can really hear this in independent podcasts like Love and Radio and Strangers.
So if a subjective voice serves the story and moves the narrative forward in an interesting way, then why not utilise it? Perhaps the dilemma is how to not to let a ‘trend’ overtake the question of purpose, and consider what works best for each individual story.
I’ve signed up to be a mentor for the CMTO’s National Features and Documentary Series. It’s a competition open to anyone who volunteers or works at a community radio station and wants to produce a feature radio documentary. The finalists work with the CMTO to hone their skills and are teamed up with a mentor who gives feedback along the way.
I remember how daunting it felt to make my first radio documentary, so it’s great to be part of something that’s helping emerging producers share their stories. It’s also another reminder of how amazing the community media sector is when it comes to supporting new and diverse voices on the radio.
I’ll be mentoring two of the finalists and can’t wait to see their stories develop!
I’ll post the links to the complete series later in the year…..
I recently wrote an article for RadioDoc Review about Masako Fukui’s documentary Will Kate Survive Kate. This piece broadcast on ABC Radio National’s 360 Documentaries program and won a gold medal at the New York Radio Festival Awards.
The documentary tells the story of a young woman Kate and her struggle with an eating disorder. It’s a deeply personal piece that has intimate audio recordings with Kate and her family. I was particularly struck by the generosity of the storytellers in this work and was curious about what motivated them to share such a difficult story. We don’t often hear from the storytellers after they have shared their story on the radio, so I decided to interview Kate and her mother for the article. It was really interesting to hear their perspective and to think more about how radio and sound were important for this particular storytelling experience. You can read my article here.