Working with two partners, three mediums, and Camp Hickory Hill

My final KBIA piece was a little disorganized. I wasn’t as happy with the final product as I would have liked to be. Was it marketable? I wouldn’t expect it to air on NPR. Maybe on the whole – all three pieces taken together as a kind of massive narrative – yes, I could see it working; but someone taking in the main audio piece on the radio on their drive home would be left wanting in many ways. I think my biggest lesson from my last assignment was to keep a clear head and to release the focus of the story, the single effect I want to leave a listener with. It was a problem of losing the forest for the trees with this story.

Although I was involved in every component of this story, I was most proud of the sidebar, which I not only did narration for but edited and collected most of the audio. I wanted the gist of this story to be just what was in the sidebar – intimate conversations with real people and how the camp helped them. The main component sounded like a story interspersed with soundbites, and while it was a necessary story, my ideal, no deadline and no limits version of this story would have blended the sidebar with the main bar. I realize that wasn’t possible with our limitations. To avoid this story coming across like a day-turn (which it still sounds like, in my head, although I certainly see the seriously VAST amount of reporting we poured into it), I would have liked a more free-form platform to tell it. Maybe it’s not unique or fascinating enough to be the kind of 20-minute story you’d hear on This American Life, but I think extra time could have given it a really wonderful dimension.

On the whole, I think that extra dimension and that intimacy is what I spent this class looking for. I only found it to my satisfaction twice: once in my first story with Maggie Berglund on Tony Mena – when I felt like we’d really dug under Tony’s skull and gotten a really deep look into his past, his hopes, his personality – and to a lesser extent, in the shorter day-turn story on Food Not Bombs I did for KBIA. Ashlee, Andrew and I might have been on the verge of it in our last week, but something – and maybe it was just our exhaustion – kept us from reaching that. In my next semester, I’ll be trying to tell those kind of stories at KBIA, and I won’t limit myself to audio to do so.

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