• Five Lessons from Master Mentors

    When Shea Shackelford lends a helping ear to younger producers, they usually come away talking about his skill as a mentor — which is interesting because, when it comes to that kind of relationship, Shea was an orphan.
    “I spent many years wishing I had a good mentor,” he said. “I had people to learn from, I had helpful people around me, but there’s some threshold of learning where you realize you’ve got it, that you are the person you’re looking for. … The way I mentor is based a lot around the sort of mentoring I maybe wish I’d had.”
    Shea, a cofounder of Big Shed Audio, was one of the pioneers for AIR’s MQ2 initiative and he regularly helps less experienced producers shepherd a project through AIR’s structured mentorship program.
    I had called Shea for selfish reasons. Since 2011, I’ve been working as a volunteer mentor-editor for The Op-Ed Project, which is working to diversify the voices and views on the world’s editorial pages. When people come out of a short-term, formal mentorship inspired, encouraged, and improved, it catches my attention.

  • How will we use our inventions?

    Note: AIR Executive Director Sue Schardt was invited to speak at a leadership breakfast hosted by American Public Media at the Public Media Development and Marketing Conference in Denver, Colorado, on July 11, 2014. PMDMC is the largest gathering of public media radio and television stations – 1,100 attended this year. Here are her remarks, "How will we use our inventions? Thoughts on the future of public media":

    Sue Schardt
    We are in the midst of the most inventive, exciting period of our careers.

    I don’t need to tell you that it’s also the most challenging time most of us have experienced.

    I want to share some new ideas about engagement as strategy that will carry us through – specifically, about

  • Wilson Sayre's Experiment with Form

    WLRN producer Wilson Sayre’s “Miami Made Muhammad Ali” is a four-minute gem of a story: a quirky experiment in which Ali’s fight doctor Ferdie Pacheco and Ramiro Ortiz, the president of the Miami History Museum, walk back through time to 50 years ago, on the night when Cassius Clay fought Sonny Liston and emerged as the heavyweight on top of the world, Muhammad Ali. 

    The entire tale is delivered as an arrangement of historical tape, boxing sounds and two fans of the fight trading memories.

    Sayre, who put the story together after attending the Full Spectrum Storytelling Intensive in December 2013, called it “a really wonky, weird-sounding thing” — a nice break her from her work on the poverty and income equality beat.

    Here, in her own words, is how she made it. This interview has been edited and condensed:

  • Don't Be a Huckster

    For many broadcast journalists, social media can seem like a time-sucking procrastination tool that others use to boast. I’d like to suggest that it offers fruitful ways to increase the impact of your stories without seeming like a huckster.
    After working for many years in nonprofits, I’ve learned that digital stories rarely have their own legs. As a new radio producer, I’ve discovered that I can apply many of the lessons I’ve learned to promoting stories. In much the same way, AIR’s experience with the Localore projects proved that it’s important to use an array of digital tools to engage new audiences (see “What’s Outside”).
    We need to help people find what we make. Even if you work for a station or production company that has its own robust social media strategy, you still have a role in getting your work to new audiences.
    Below you’ll find 11 ways to promote your radio story, complete with pro tips to refine your strategy.

  • From Ink to Airwaves

    How does a longtime print journalist make the switch to audio? Debbie Nathan, an alumna of the 2013 Full Spectrum Storytelling workshop, has written for publications including The Village Voice and The Texas Observer since 1980. Nathan’s reporting often challenges popular ideas about subjects like pornography, immigration and mental health. Her most recent book, “Sybil Exposed,” received a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly, which praised Nathan’s “steady eye on her oft-sensationalized subject,” and noted that her reporting “serves up a tale just as shocking as the famed original.”

    Nathan describes her venture from the page into storytelling for radio. This interview has been edited and condensed: