New Status Update Page

We’re very excited to unveil our new Status Page for technical updates.

You can now subscribe and receive notifications about outages or other major issues with PRX.org and our Subscription Automation system (SubAuto). Our page also connects to our PRX Status Twitter account, which you can follow for updates.

This page will be especially helpful for the engineers at your stations, so we encourage you to pass this info along to them if they haven’t yet seen it.

Status Updates From PRX Tech Staff (status.prx.org)
* Problems with FTP servers (delays, availability issues)
* Problems with all or many deliveries
* Website availability
* Other technical issues impacting audio delivery or website use

Managing Status Page Messages
To manage updates, head to status.prx.org and click Subscribe to Updates in the top right.

Announcing the New STEM Story Project Productions

For the second time, PRX received a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to fund public radio stories about STEM topics: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. One of PRX’s strategic goals is to massively increase listening to public radio works of all kinds. This partnership with Sloan is an opportunity to add to the pool of stories about science. Our goals are to:

• Unleash highly creative, STEM-based original stories and productions
• Educate and excite listeners about STEM topics and issues
• Tell stories and explain STEM issues in new ways

Our editorial team – with help from our science advisory board, representing various academic institutions across the U.S. (and NASA!) – pored through the 100+ proposals we received this year. The topics spanned an impressive range of the STEM spectrum. As you can imagine, the final decisions were incredibly difficult to make!

Without further ado, here are the proposals that will receive funding for the STEM Story Project 2.0! We look forward to hearing the final products in late August as much as you do.

Stylometry, Math, and Art, Jenny Chen – Where math and art collide: mathematicians use stylometry in the battle to determine who created what art.

The Colour of Sound: An Audio Rainbow, Marnie Chesterson – Red and yellow and pink and green. Can you build a rainbow out of sound, not colour? We try, and tell the stories of the noise colors.

Fire on the Mountain: Climate Change, Fire, and the Ecological Future of the American West, Aengus Anderson – In the wake of a catastrophic fire, researchers use Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains to look centuries into the future of climate change.

The Indiana Jones of Mathematics, Ben Harden — The Indiana Jones of mathematics joins the dots between stealth shields, voter theory and osteoporosis as he studies the melting polar ice.

Space Rocks: Interstellar Dreamers Put Their Faith in Asteroids, Audrey Quinn – Life in space has one very practical roadblock: supply costs. We visit aspiring asteroid miners with plans to grab materials already out there.

The Making of a Medical Detective or the Case of a Nutty Affair, Philip Graitcer – They’re called medical detectives. They hunt down the causes of outbreaks. Follow along as trainees learn and solve mock epidemics.

Early Bloom, Peter Frick-Wright & Robbie Carver – Scientists are learning the language of plants. Hear about them and the controversies surrounding the research and the father of the field.

No Vaccination Without Information, Luke Quinton — In 1776 John Adams and his family weren’t just fighting a revolution, they were fighting smallpox. You’ll be surprised to hear just how.

That Raving Animal, Britt Wray — A music industry for animals exists, but different species hear different sounds. One woman throws concerts for animals to test their ears.

Bayes’ Theorem: Finding Truth in a Mathematical Hunch, Sydney Beveridge – From controversy and rejection to mystery-solving and everyday use.

Get into the Groove, Kirsty McQuire — US & UK scientists have found the brain’s rhythm factory. Hear about your internal iPod and new hope for those living with Parkinsons.

This is Crohn’s Disease, Jack Rodolico – A patient with Crohn’s disease visits the best doctor in the world. That patient is Jack’s wife.

That Crime of the Month, Lauren Spohrer from the Criminal Show podcast – Can PMS be so debilitating for some women that it relieves them of criminal liability?

1,000 Meters Under the Sea, David Schulman – Something unusual happens about 1,000 meters under the sea. Ocean physics — pressure, temperature, and saltiness — create a zone called the “sound channel.”

Células Madres: The Mother of All Cells, Anayansi Diaz-Cortes – What is a stem cell? What’s a stem cell transplant? To a scientist? A doctor? A husband? A mother?

Science and storytelling often stem from one common thing: a question about the world around us. In that spirit, we’re confident that these stories help ignite deeper curiosity about our world, as well as the meticulous processes that make the pursuit of that knowledge possible.

Follow #PRXSTEM on Twitter for updates and to get a first listen to projects as they’re uploaded!

How to Write a Great Story Title in 10 Minutes

I know, writing headlines and story titles is tough. In fact, I spent 10 minutes brainstorming this headline. It wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had, but I did it because I wanted to make sure people read this.

Same goes for audio story titles. The good news is, if you spend ~10 minutes brainstorming a story title, I can guarantee that you will come up with a better, more engaging title for your story that will draw in more listeners or even purchasers to your piece.

First, let’s talk about BAD titles and why they might not be helping us.

  • Very Long
  • Example: Joe Bob and Marty Frank – musicians – in Conversation: Talk about their favorite music – newshole version

    Simply put, very long titles look bad and often times they are hard to read on mobile devices. Keep your titles short and catchy.

  • Vague
  • I know the urge to name your title something sort of vague and artsy. I am a poet, that’s basically what I was put on this earth to do, but having a title that you think is cool (like for example, a cool quote from your story) doesn’t always do your story justice. It doesn’t help us understand what we’re about to listen to or why we should take the time to listen to it. Give your listeners a reason to give your story a shot.

  • Part of a series/no title
  • Some of you may have a weekly series and may not feel the need to even come up with a title. I see a lot of titles on PRX that look something like this…”Episode 202.” If one of your goals is that people listen to your story on the web then a title like that will give someone zero reasons to click on your story and listen.

Let’s move on to GOOD titles and what makes them good.

  • Short/catchy
  • You probably read this a dozen or so times a day, but I’ll reiterate: Facebook and Twitter have changed the way people are consuming media. You have just a few characters to get people to click on something you’ve shared. Make them count.

  • Shareable
  • I’ve started up a listener newsletter where I share audio stories that I love and the first thing I do is give each story a better headline/title. When you’re brainstorming your titles, put yourself in the shoes of someone like me. Or an editor at a blog that writes about podcasts. Or an editor at a major public radio station who might air your story and share it on the web to their huge list of Facebook followers. Rather than quickly coming up with something on the spot, think about what will make people want to share your story. What makes it compelling to lots of people?

Now get to work!

I highly recommend trying this exercise which we gleaned from the folks at Upworthy, a site for viral content. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Now, try to write as many headlines as you can. Shoot for 25. At first, you’re going to write a lot of really crap headlines, but don’t let that discourage you. Keep writing until 10 minutes have passed or you’ve reached 25 titles. I swear it will feel like running through mud and then miraculously you’ll realize you reached the heart of your story and you’ve come up with a pretty awesome title.

More headline writing resources for you to check out:

- Upworthy’s Secret Sauce to virality. This is pure gold. Flip through these slides (like the images above) to see why people share things and what you can do to make your work more likely to be shared by lots of people.

- Buffer’s guide to How to Write The Perfect Headline: The Top Words Used in Viral Headlines.

- More tips on writing “pearls of clarity” for your titles, headlines, and subject lines.

Hello from Conor

Hello friends,

Some quick introductory words for my first day as an intern at PRX. How did I get here?

I was born in Brighton, UK to an artist and teacher and grew up in Southern Maine in a town called Yarmouth. I went to school at Boston University, where I studied cultural history and wrote a final paper about composers John Cage and Erik Satie, two exceptional dudes.

About the same time as the paper, I began work on Stylus, a documentary program about sound, music, and listening. My co-producer Zack and I made a pilot episode about silence and pitched the series to WBUR, Boston’s NPR News Station. They eventually picked it up and, along with a bunch of wonderful people in and around the station, we produced four themed programs. We’re finishing up that first series now.

I’ve arrived at PRX to continue work as a producer of public media.

I love radio. Partly because it is a creative medium, but mostly because it is an essential institution.

The question often asked of radio people, these days, is “How do we make audio go viral?” It seems, to me, that the far more basic question facing our moment is: How do we save ourselves from Total Noise? How do we maintain the best public space for listeners, producers, and communities to work together and stay connected in a meaningful way?

PRX continues to carve out that space, and I’m very excited to help do a part.

ADRIANNE MATHIOWETZ WHERE AM I NOW

Enjoy this guest blog post from Adrianne Mathiowetz, who worked at PRX from 2005-2008 and now works at This American Life.


Eating ice cream at PRX cookout 2006

110 months ago I graduated from college and started my first job as an editorial associate at PRX. 80 months ago I went part-time so that I could also work part-time, and remotely, as the web manager for This American Life. 74 months ago I left PRX to spend the free part of my workdays “focusing on my writing.” I’ve been asked to say something on the blog about what I’ve been up to since.

71 months ago I threw my lit magazine rejection letters into the trash as I moved out the apartment I’d shared with my now-suddenly-ex-boyfriend, 53 months ago I stuffed everything I owned into my now-suddenly-new-boyfriend’s car to drive to Portland, Maine, and 50 months ago I graduated from the documentary photography program at Salt. 49 months ago I moved in with my sister in to Minneapolis to start a side photography business, 42 months ago I helped the Mpls Photo Center organize a benefit auction so I could spend the following spring taking classes on studio lighting and portraiture, and 38 months ago I went to Kansas City to kill an animal with my bare hands only to throw it away after it spoiled in the fridge. I still think about it when I’m driving anywhere on a hot summer day, and there are a few passengers in the car but no one is talking.


Self portrait in Du Bois, Pa.

38 months ago I got an IUD and wrote about it, 34 months ago I looked at houses with a realtor in Detroit and proposed to my boyfriend offering him health insurance (he declined), 27 months ago I went to St. Louis to take photos for a Love & Radio episode about a man who turned his home into a holocaust museum, 26 months ago I did something emotionally ill-advised on a rooftop in a strange costume, and 23 months ago I stuffed my grandma’s ’95 Taurus with books and clothes and my terrified cat and I drove from Minnesota to New York. 18 months ago I started freelance shooting events for WQXR and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, 13 months ago I drove the car back home listening to a lot of Joni Mitchell, 11 months ago my boyfriend proposed to me with a swiss army knife (I declined), and 9 months ago I told a story about a personal Craigslist adventure in front of a large crowd of public radio peers at RadioVision. 7 months ago spoke with Andrea Silenzi in a Greenpoint bar for “Why Oh Why” about that IUD (still think it’s the greatest, ladies), 6 months ago I went to Washington, DC to shoot another Love & Radio story, and 2 months ago I moved for the 4th time within Brooklyn into a Bushwick apartment with three college friends. 2 weeks ago I finally sent my parents most of the money I’d borrowed.

Right now it is 0 months ago. Right now it is right now: I’m in the This American Life office, making sure our digital ducks are in a row for tomorrow. Tomorrow, I go to Portland for a week long multimedia intensive at Salt. Tomorrow I get on a train, and that is always exciting.


Funding Announced for More Episodes of Reveal

PRX and The Center for Investigative Reporting have been working on the creation of Reveal for only a year. In that time we and stations have created three pilots with digital assets, won a Peabody Award, and reported original stories of major importance and depth. Station response has been very strong and we’re very grateful and proud about that.

Today, CIR had a series of major announcements about Reveal that we are thrilled to share, especially news about the continuation and growth of Reveal in 2015:


PRESS RELEASE
Contact: Lisa Cohen, lisa@lisacohen.org, 310-395-2544

The Center for Investigative Reporting announces funding commitments of $3.5 million to launch ‘Reveal’
CIR invests in new strategy to create national platform for investigative reporting

EMERYVILLE, Calif., July 10, 2014 – The Center for Investigative Reporting announced today that it has received two multiyear grants totaling $3.5 million to launch “Reveal,” the nation’s first investigative public radio show and podcast. “Reveal,” a co-production of CIR and the Public Radio Exchange (PRX), will showcase high-impact investigative stories from CIR and other news outlets through a one-hour radio show, podcasts and an array of multiplatform assets, including text stories, broadcast news segments, online videos and animations, data interactives, live events and more.

The Reva and David Logan Foundation awarded CIR a three-year grant of $3 million for “Reveal,” citing its founders’ commitment to investigative journalism as the “guardian of the public interest.”

“Our family has been deeply involved with CIR and investigative reporting for years, and we believe that this new initiative will be transformational,” said Jonathan Logan, one of five trustees of the foundation and a board member of CIR. “By amplifying the work of CIR and other news organizations, and by creating new collaborations in the public’s interest, ‘Reveal’ will benefit the journalism community at large and, most importantly, will provide the public access to high-quality investigative reporting.”

The Ford Foundation awarded CIR a two-year grant of $500,000 for the show and its accompanying podcast. In awarding the grant, the foundation noted CIR’s commitment to multiplatform journalism, helping other newsrooms localize deeply researched investigative reporting on “Reveal” and engaging the public in seeking solutions to the issues raised by its reports.

“The most exciting thing about the CIR ‘Reveal’ project is the potential to bring high-quality, engaging investigative journalism to entirely new audiences,” said Barbara Raab, program officer of the media and justice initiative at the Ford Foundation. “In addition to groundbreaking national stories, ‘Reveal’ will elevate vital local stories to a national platform. Excellent investigative journalism, especially at the local level, is critical for keeping communities informed.”

The “Reveal” grants leverage ongoing general operating support provided to CIR by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and many other foundations and individual donors.

“The best investigative reporting leads to change that can help individuals and communities,” said Robert J. Rosenthal, CIR’s executive director. “ ‘Reveal’ will be a powerful platform for telling CIR’s stories and a catalyst for collaborations with other news organizations, large and small. Our success will be measured by the impact of the stories on ‘Reveal’ and the ways in which they help the public find solutions to critical issues.”
PRX CEO Jake Shapiro said, “PRX is partnering on ‘Reveal’ because of a clear demand for more investigative reporting, not just from public radio listeners, but from new mobile audiences hungry for meaningful storytelling available on demand.”

CIR and PRX produced three Reveal program pilots starting in September 2013. The first pilot won a George Foster Peabody Award, one of broadcasting’s highest honors, for CIR’s story about how the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs feeds prescription opiate addictions. The pilot episodes featured investigations by CIR, WBEZ/Chicago Public Radio, the Center for Public Integrity, Michigan Radio and St. Louis Public Radio. The third pilot began airing on public radio stations nationwide June 28.

This is the first time in CIR’s 37-year history that it has created its own platform, beyond its website, for consistent and broad distribution of its reporting, as well as that of other media organizations. The initial funding commitments make it possible for CIR and PRX to proceed with the planned launch of “Reveal” as a regularly scheduled public radio program in 2015. Podcast production will begin this summer.

To prepare for the successful launch of “Reveal,” Joaquin Alvarado, CIR’s chief strategy and operations officer since 2012, has been named CEO of CIR and will oversee all operational and business aspects of the organization. Rosenthal, who joined CIR as executive director in 2008, will continue to serve in that role, focusing on editorial strategy and organizational sustainability. Robert Salladay, who has been managing editor since 2009, was named CIR’s new editorial director last week. Christa Scharfenberg, who has been with CIR since 2003, will remain on the senior leadership team as managing director.

“CIR’s board has been deeply involved in and passionate about developing and supporting this key initiative,” said Phil Bronstein, CIR’s executive chair. “ ‘Reveal’ reflects CIR’s core commitment to producing deeply researched investigative stories across all platforms and provides the opportunity to expand the reach and impact of our reporting, while building a direct relationship with our audiences.”

Support for “Reveal” from our collaborators:

Bill Buzenberg, executive director, Center for Public Integrity:
“Public radio needs more high-quality investigative journalism. The Center for Public Integrity is delighted to be a part of this new effort along with CIR and PRX to help fill that programming void, strengthening the public service role of public radio in the process.”

Steve Engelberg, editor-in-chief, ProPublica:
“We’re delighted that ‘Reveal’ is increasing the amount of independent investigative journalism being done for radio. We have a story in the works with CIR for ‘Reveal’ now and hope other such opportunities will arise.”

Tamar Charney, program director, Michigan Radio:
“Michigan Radio was thrilled with the opportunity to partner with CIR and ‘Reveal’ and co-report a story for the third pilot. The partnership allowed us to extend our reporting capacity and bring depth to an important local story. It was a great way to serve our audience and to build on our local and national reputation as a provider of in-depth journalism about important issues facing our communities.”

Margaret Freivogel, editor, St. Louis Public Radio and The Beacon:
“As a metro-focused news organization, we appreciate the chance to share our work with a national audience. What’s happening in Missouri has national significance, and it’s also important for Missourians to understand the national context of our situation. The ‘Reveal’ work helped us convey both.”

For more information about “Reveal,” visit revealradio.org.

About The Center For Investigative Reporting

The Center for Investigative Reporting is the nation’s first independent, multiplatform investigative reporting organization. Devoted to holding powerful interests accountable to the public trust, CIR creatively employs cutting-edge technology and innovative storytelling to reveal injustice, spark change at all levels of society and influence public dialogue on critical issues. CIR produces high-impact reporting across print, video, TV, radio and online platforms and is the recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, winner of a 2013 Emmy Award and a 2014 George Foster Peabody Award, and a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2012 (for local reporting) and 2013 (for public service).

About PRX (Public Radio Exchange)

PRX is an award-winning nonprofit public media company, harnessing innovative technology to bring compelling stories to millions of people. PRX.org operates public radio’s largest distribution marketplace, offering thousands of audio stories for broadcast and digital use, including “This American Life,” “The Moth Radio Hour,” “Sound Opinions,” “State of the Re:Union,” “Snap Judgment” and “WTF with Marc Maron.” PRX Remix is PRX’s 24/7 channel featuring the best independent radio stories and new voices. PRX is also the leading mobile app developer for public media, with apps such as Public Radio Player, Radiolab, This American Life, WBUR, KCRW Music Mine and more.

PRX and jācapps partner on station apps

We are excited to announce that PRX is working with jācapps to transition our station apps work. Jācapps is a great group, they are purely focused on radio apps, and offer stations terrific value. See the press release below for more details.

Four years ago PRX developed our first local station app with WBUR here in Boston, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Since then we’ve gone on to build an extraordinary portfolio of apps for stations and programs, including WNYC, KQED, WGBH, KPBS, KCRW, VPR and programs This American Life, Radiolab, and The Moth. We’ve also built apps for our own PRX Remix, and the popular Public Radio Player (over 7 million downloads to date). We’ve learned a lot along the way, and have forged new and lasting relationships with our partners. We are so grateful for the opportunity to learn and innovate together with these remarkable folks.

The entire world of mobile audio has changed dramatically over these past 4 years, and PRX along with it. We see huge growth and opportunity in our content and distribution services — including our Radiotopia podcast network and the booming SubAuto service that This American Life, The WFMT Radio Network, and others are joining — and have decided to focus our energies on this core identify of PRX. This doesn’t mean we will stop building apps, but we will select projects that directly align with our content and distribution strategy. We will also continue to consult to stations and producers seeking to build apps; we’ve earned a lot of insights across strategic, business, metrics, marketing and technical needs that we enjoy sharing with others.

Please drop us and jācapps a line with any questions or ideas.

Best,
Jake



jacapps logo

PRX_logo_final

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Paul Jacobs, jācapps, 248-353-9030

PRX and jācapps announce partnership on
mobile apps for public radio stations

PRX (the Public Radio Exchange) has selected mobile application provider jācapps as its recommended partner to develop mobile apps for public radio stations. PRX has developed apps for some of the country’s largest and most prestigious public radio stations and is now transitioning to focus its mobile strategy on original and custom apps linked to PRX’s core distribution service while recommending that its current clients shift to jācapps.

Jācapps will not only continue to provide the functionality, quality, and service that PRX has become known for, but will also offer additional optional features to take advantage of the expanding capabilities of the mobile platform to deliver interactive media experiences. Among these new features are capabilities for users to share audio, video and photos back to the station, as well as integration of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds.

Jācapps currently provides mobile applications for nearly 40 public radio stations nationwide, and those current and future station clients will benefit from a newsfeed feature created by PRX enabling the delivery of high quality news content.

“jācapps intends to use this partnership as a springboard to grow our presence in the public radio sphere,” said jācapps COO Bob Kernen, “We think this is an opportunity to bring new ideas and products to the many outstanding organizations and stations in public radio.”

“We’re impressed with jacapps’ platform and professionalism, and enthusiastically recommend that stations outsourcing native app development work with Bob and his team,” said Jake Shapiro, CEO of PRX.

About PRX

PRX is an award-winning nonprofit public media company, harnessing innovative technology to bring significant stories to millions of people. PRX.org operates public radio’s largest distribution marketplace, offering thousands of audio stories for broadcast and digital use, including This American Life, The Moth Radio Hour, Snap Judgment (with NPR), and 99% Invisible. PRX Remix is PRX’s 24/7 channel featuring the best independent radio stories and new voices. PRX is also a leading mobile app developer for public media, with apps such as the Public Radio Player, Radiolab, This American Life, KCRW Music Mine, and more.

About jācapps

With over 800 apps developed that have generated more than 21 million downloads, jācapps is a leading developer of mobile applications for businesses and organizations worldwide. Major brands include public radio’s “Car Talk,” Michigan Radio, WDET, WXPN, KUT, and numerous other public radio stations. Other clients include WGN Television and Radio, WEEI (Boston), Food Tripping, 100.3 The Sound (Los Angeles), WMMR (Philadelphia), and countless others.

jācapps is also the House Developer for The Ford Motor Company, working with mobile application developers to enable voice commands to enhance the in-car infotainment experience in vehicles equipped with the Ford AppLink operating system.


Power to the people! (And how to find a story)

If you like art, you should check out Veronica Simmonds. She’s spending all her time chatting with artists and making radio stories about them. (Jealous yet?) To top it off, she found this guy who’s so obsessed with shortwave radio he designed an immersive art piece around it. She produced the story, and we workshopped it together in this month’s Second Ear.

Veronica’s taking over the rest of this post to tell us about it:

__________________________________

Producer Veronica Simmonds
Producer Veronica Simmonds (photo by Katie McKay)

There is a big difference between a topic and a story. Big differencebut one that Im always struggling to understand. 

Ive been producing a podcast for Visual Arts News for over a year now. Its a great gig: I get to interview all the rad artists working in Atlantic Canada. I interview them about the cool ideas behind their projects, then weave those together with music and ambient sounds, and the result is usually an interesting audio journey. But are these stories? Not really.

I reached out to the Second Ear program because there was one piece I produced for Visual Arts News that I thought had legs. It was about an artist named Michael McCormack who makes work about shortwave radio. As a radio nerd this was enough to get me interested. But, what was really curious was how Michael connected to his grandfather. As he talked about the different elements of his work, they all somehow linked back to his grandfathers experience as a ham radio operator. 

When I first produced the piece, I focused on the topic of shortwave radio: what it is, why its important for people, and what Michael is doing with it. Talking to Erika and Genevieve from PRX was totally invaluable because they challenged me to focus instead on the relationship between Michael and his grandfather. They encouraged me to see the art and even Michaels identity as an artist as secondary to that relationship. As simple as that may seem it was actually a total revelation for me. I usually start these podcasts by naming the artist and saying what their working on, but this new approach was totally freeing and I think led to a way more compelling listen. People first! Projects second!

All this to say, I still dont know exactly what a story is, but Im a little closer. From now on, Im going to start my pieces with people, not their projects. Stories happen with people: what are their intentions, why do they do what they do, whats changing for them. Cool art projects come from people, but the people should come first. Power to the people! (and their stories!) —Veronica

You can submit a story to Second Ear during the first five days of every month. Follow #SecondEar on Twitter to hear the latest and share your thoughts.

4 Ways to Make Your Art Story Sing

Photo by Michael McCormack
Photo by Michael McCormack

Each month, PRX editors workshop a radio piece and share the before and after with the world. This month’s Second Ear producer was Visual Arts News host Veronica Simmonds.

BEFORE:

AFTER:

Secret Soviet radio signals, lonely spies in the Arctic, and an art exhibit with pulsing disco lights. I’m ready to listen. But you can have all the ingredients and still feel a story isn’t quite “there.” We talked ideas with Veronica; she took or scrapped our advice and came back with a new version of her story.

Hear a difference? Here’s some of what we talked about.

Photo by Veronica Simmonds
Veronica’s subject had plenty of clues and history behind the art for a story. She just needed to put them together. (Photo by Veronica Simmonds)

1. Find the story. An artist might be doing something fascinating, but if you don’t find a narrative arc with characters, conflict, and surprise, you won’t keep my attention.

In Veronica’s case, I saw all this potential for compelling stories and intimate moments that were glossed over. So we talked a lot about how to find tension, emotion, and narrative, and she actually interviewed Michael a second time to get tape that would help.

2. Avoid art speak. Don’t let the artist speak in sterile or hyped-up language. Work the interview to pull out the emotion and concrete reasoning. And certainly don’t use jargon in your own writing. (We asked Veronica to cut lines like “his current work is focusing on” or “enter the dialogue.”)

Say things plainly. Clear images, simple language, and strong ideas—not pretense—will bring depth to the piece.

3. Help us picture it. Slow the artist down during the interview to get specific moments and vivid details. Record yourself describing and experiencing the work, and focus on the senses. Help us listeners construct the visceral experience in our imagination.

4. Be skeptical.  Be wary of adopting the language of the artist as your own. Just because an artist claims she’s breaking apart some radical notion with her art doesn’t mean that you should say she succeeded.

To get interesting tape, find time to ask the artist questions from the perspective of the guy who thinks this type of art is a load of hooey. Then, if you like, ask the artist what frustrates him about the way people view art. Maybe you’ll find tension not only in the story’s central conflict, but also in a deeper conversation about what art is.

You can submit a story to Second Ear during the first five days of every month. Follow #SecondEar on Twitter to hear the latest and share your thoughts.

Make Better Radio

We enjoyed a terrific web event last week for youth producers with guests Ben Trefny of KALW and and Michael May of Salt Institute for Documentary Studies on the topic Make Better Radio.

From the importance of nut graphs to the importance of dance parties, we heard lots of practical, inspirational guidance for youth radio groups of all levels.

You can find an archived video recording of the web event here.

And you can see some of the gems that participants took from the webinar using the hashtag #MakeBetterRadio – thanks to PRXer Audrey Mardavich, all are collected in this Storify.

Many thanks to our guests, to KALW, the Salt Institute, the Bay Area Video Coalition, and to all of the youth radio leaders out there for the amazing work you do.