Sarah Kate Kramer & Joe Richman

Producers of the Radio Diaries Podcast

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON November 19, 2015

Discussion

Joe Richman@joediaries · Executive Producer at Radio Diaries
Hi all, Sarah and Joe here from the Radio Diaries. The Radio Diaries is a non-profit organization that gives people audio recorders and asks them to report on their lives for public radio. We’ve worked with all sorts of people – teenagers, prisoners and prison guards, a bra seller, residents of a retirement home, a 16 year old girl boxer who ended up winning an Olympic gold medal… anyone and everyone who has a story to tell! We also do a lot of historical documentaries. We’re based in Brooklyn, NY. You can subscribe to the Radio Diaries podcast here: http://www.radiodiaries.org/podc... Ask away!
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
Hey! What podcasts do you listen to?
Sarah Kate Kramer@skk_wire · Producer, Radio Diaries
@bentossell I'm a fan of all the Radiotopia podcasts (radiotopia.fm), including 99% Invisible, The Heart, Fugitive Waves, Love & Radio, Theory of Everything, Song Exploder, The Allusionist, The Truth, Strangers, Criminal, Mortified, The Memory Palace...and of course Radio Diaries :) I also listen to a bunch of the Gimlet Shows: Reply All, Start-Up, Mystery Show. Recently I've gotten into podcasts that showcase more experimental work, like Short Cuts from BBC, Imaginary Advice (new fave), Serendipity, Radiotonic, The Organist. The Buzzfeed podcasts are also really fun: Another Round, Internet Exploder. And if I'm in the mood for a round table, Slate's podcasts are great. And...lest I forget, This American Life.
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
@joediaries Great podcast. How do you look for people with different background? How does one participate in it.
Joe Richman@joediaries · Executive Producer at Radio Diaries
@neeeharika we usually go out looking for our stories rather than have people pitch us. That said... we're always happy to get suggestions for stories or diarists. And of course we try to represent a diverse range - of people, of subjects, of locations, of personalities.
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
Hey @joediaries & @skk_wire ! I love Radio Diaries and look forward to new episodes to dive into for my commute. So thank you 👏 Do you ever have trouble finding stories to tell? What are the most common ways you find them? What are some of the oddest ways you've found a story?
Sarah Kate Kramer@skk_wire · Producer, Radio Diaries
@jacqvon There's no one way we find a story...every time it's different. We often start by finding a great character, and going from there. One of the unusual ways we found a teenage diarist recently is by partnering with the online storytelling platform Cowbird (cowbird.com). While broadcasting our Teenage Diaries Revisited series on NPR, we simultaneously solicited stories from teenagers around the world through Cowbird. We ended up receiving over 800 stories, and picked one diarist out of all those entries. Her story will be airing in 2016. Stay tuned...
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
I've heard different figures in the podcast community go back in forth about whether a.) there's lot of a great content for people to listen to vs b.) tons of new podcasts are being created, but a lot of it isn't worth listening to. I think we can all agree the Radiotopia shows are all amazing =), but I'm curious if either of you have opinions or insights you'd like to share on the topic. (I'm personally in the camp that great content abounds, but it's scattered, hard to discover, lacking context, and subjective -- what appeals to me may not appeal to my friends).
Joe Richman@joediaries · Executive Producer at Radio Diaries
@alexcartaz I think you're right that it can be hard to discover new great content. But... there is SOOO much. Too much. I don't have time to listen to all the amazing podcasts I want to listen to. I actually wish there was less!
Sarah Kate Kramer@skk_wire · Producer, Radio Diaries
@alexcartaz I'm also in the great content camp. But I do think that a lot of the new content being made now is mimicking the existing content. There are a lot of variations on the same theme. It's also true that the most financially efficient way to produce a podcast is what I call the "talking heads" version: a few people in a room talking to each other. But that's not a recipe for really interesting storytelling.
Joe Richman@joediaries · Executive Producer at Radio Diaries
Those are exactly the kind of stories we like to do: hidden histories, the stuff you didn't learn in school. I think most of our historical documentaries (Mandela is an exception) are in that category. You can find them on our website: radiodiaries.org or our podcast. I love history. And I'm an archival tape geek. But finding important stories from the past that are not well known is what we try to do.
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
Do you have any advice for young or aspiring audio producers out there?
Joe Richman@joediaries · Executive Producer at Radio Diaries
@alexcartaz My advice is - no matter what else you're doing - have one big labor of love project on the side. It keeps you going through all the other work you may be doing.
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
@skk_wire and @joediaries thanks so much for joining us today, this was a delight and it was really insightful too!
Joe Richman@joediaries · Executive Producer at Radio Diaries
@alexcartaz Thanks! This was fun. And thanks for all the great questions. Send more anytime to @radiodiaries
Sarah Kate Kramer@skk_wire · Producer, Radio Diaries
@alexcartaz It was fun. Also, this is the last day to contribute to the Radiotopia fundraiser! If you like what we're doing, this is a great way to show your support: https://www.commitchange.com/ma/...
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
@joediaries thanks so much for joining us today! Would love to hear what is the most effective way you use for distributing and promoting the podcast?
Joe Richman@joediaries · Executive Producer at Radio Diaries
@harrystebbings Hi, thanks for your question. The Radio Diaries podcast is part of the Radiotopia network. It's really useful to be part of a network and we're thrilled to be one of the founding members of Radiotopia. It's a diverse group of shows, passionate producers, committed and obsessive people. So that part is great. As for promoting the podcast, there are so many ways. But there are also so many podcasts. Getting the attention of listeners is hard. It has helped us a bunch when we have our stories air on other shows and podcasts. Bottom line: people are always on the lookout for good stuff, so the best thing you can do is... produce good stuff!
Corley@corleyh · COO @ Product Hunt
@joediaries thank you so much for joining us today! Of all of the stories you've listened to and ended up producing into a podcast, what has been the most interesting? And how has listening to all of these stories evolved your perspective?
Joe Richman@joediaries · Executive Producer at Radio Diaries
@corleyh It's like choosing your favorite child... I love all of them. But, well, I do have my favorites: our Mandela series, Teenage Diaries Then and Now, The Traveling Electric Chair. And I also really love the podcast that we're putting out today. The story is about the day - Nov 23, 1936 - when two of the greatest musicians made music history in two different studios. They were guitarist Robert Johnson and cellist Pablo Casals. Our story follows both men making their recordings and includes the voices of people who knew and were influenced by those musicians... including Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. (He was probably more influenced by Robert Johnson than by Pablo Casals).
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
@joediaries & @skk_wire Thanks both for being here today 🙌 During your career to date, what has been your a) most challenging moment and how did you overcome it? b) proudest moment and why? c) most surprising moment?
Joe Richman@joediaries · Executive Producer at Radio Diaries
@ems_hodge Big questions! Doing journalism and documentary work there are a lot of challenging moments. And with the audio diaries that we do, the percentage of 'challenge' is even higher. You're collaborating with actual real people about their actual real lives. So, you know, it's complicated. But when it works, the payoff is high. I think you overcome storytelling/journalism/producing challenges the same way you overcome most challenges: by just slogging on. Eventually, a path reveals itself.
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
Thanks for joining us today Joe and Kate! What was your inspiration for creating Radio Diaries?
Joe Richman@joediaries · Executive Producer at Radio Diaries
@alexcartaz So many inspirations went into creating Radio Diaries. Here are a few of my personal ones: Studs Terkel's "Working", Dave Isay's radio documentary "Ghetto Life 101", Michael Apted's long running documentary series: 7 Up, 28 Up etc, the Eyes on the Prize doc series, Jay Allison's life stories series, and MTV's "Real World" (maybe).
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
What would you like to tick off your bucket lists in the next 5-10 years?
Sarah Kate Kramer@skk_wire · Producer, Radio Diaries
@bentossell personal bucket list or storytelling bucket list? :) On my personal list, I'd like to travel to outer space
Joe Richman@joediaries · Executive Producer at Radio Diaries
@skk_wire @bentossell can we give you a tape recorder so you can do an audio diary from outer space?
Sarah Kate Kramer@skk_wire · Producer, Radio Diaries
@joediaries @bentossell I'll upload the files at the speed of light directly from the International Space Station.
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
What most excites you about podcasts in today's day in age? What do you think is still really frustrating or broken that you thought would be fixed or improved by now?
Sarah Kate Kramer@skk_wire · Producer, Radio Diaries
@alexcartaz There's so much adventurous storytelling happening in podcasts right now, it's really an exciting time. I hope that people continue to push the boundaries of what an audio story can be. In terms of what's frustrating...the technology of listening to podcasts still sucks. The apps are terrible. I wish there was a simple way to share stories or clips from stories with friends. I also wish someone would invent a tool that would make it easy to engage in a conversation about a podcast right after you listen to it. Inside the app, for example?
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
@skk_wire I totally agree, very well put!
Joe Richman@joediaries · Executive Producer at Radio Diaries
@alexcartaz This new age of the podcast is so so so so exciting. There is more great stuff being produced now than ever before. And you can reach your audience directly. There is the potential for a very different relationship between producer and listener... and between story and listener. What excites me is that there is so much energy going into it right now. Creative energy, entrepreneurial energy, young energy. I don't know how it will look in a few years. I certainly have concerns. How will new and independent shows find an audience? How will the ethics, spirit, and mission of public radio/public broadcasting adapt in a commercial medium? And... how will all of this be supported? I feel very grateful and excited to be making radio and podcasts at this moment in history.
Joe Richman@joediaries · Executive Producer at Radio Diaries
@joediaries @alexcartaz oh one more thing... you asked about what should be fixed: there should be a way to make micro contributions to your favorite podcasts directly through iTunes or your podcast app. That would be a game changer.
Sarah Kate Kramer@skk_wire · Producer, Radio Diaries
@alexcartaz There was actually another live chat today on Digg about why audio doesn't go viral: http://digg.com/dialog/why-doesn... (thought Serial did go viral this year)
Dre Durr💡@dredurr · Growth is the only thing that matters
I have heard many times over, that the story is made in the editing room. What is your editing process like to create a magical experience for your listeners?
Joe Richman@joediaries · Executive Producer at Radio Diaries
Yes! I like to say that you don't get good tape, you make good tape. It's an important point. But... it's not really true. As vital as the editing is (and structuring, and mixing) you can't make a good story if you don't have... a good story. And good characters. Still, the editing is huge. Having people you trust - an editor or collaborator of friend - that will listen and give you advice and keep you from driving off the story cliff... that's important too.
Sarah Kate Kramer@skk_wire · Producer, Radio Diaries
@dredurr Our editing process is loooooong. We work with hours and hours of tape, so we have to be really organized in order to keep track of it all. We basically break our tape down into tiny chapters and then build the story up from there. We believe in the collaborative process, and we are blessed to have really wonderful editors that make our stories better: Deborah George and Ben Shapiro. We'll play drafts for them and get their feedback many times over for each story. Honest discussion and many ears go into every piece.
Tom Skypek@tomskypek · Co-founder, GovBizConnect
Hi--thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. You mention that you do historical documentaries. What's one of the lesser known, but interesting, historical factoids you've come across? Something that you probably didn't learn in high school history class.
Sarah Kate Kramer@skk_wire · Producer, Radio Diaries
@tomskypek Here's a link to all our history docs: http://www.radiodiaries.org/cate... and check out today's podcast, about a strange coincidence on Nov 23, 1936 that changed music history
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
Are there any stories you're really excited about tackling that are either in the pipeline or that you haven't gotten to yet?
Joe Richman@joediaries · Executive Producer at Radio Diaries
@alexcartaz Sarah can talk more about a story she's working on right now - the diary of a young Muslim woman in Saudi Arabia who has been resisting getting married... until just recently. She's a great character and the kind of person we rarely hear from.
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
What kind of podcasts would you like to see emerge that aren't mimicking existing shows or models? What opportunities do you think exist that haven't been thoroughly explored enough yet? Do you think the 'public radio' style of podcasts is too dominant?
Sarah Kate Kramer@skk_wire · Producer, Radio Diaries
@alexcartaz definitely do not think the "public radio style" is too dominant. Most of the thousands of podcasts that exist are not in this style. Also...I'm a true believer in this style. That being said...I would like to hear more playful, experimental storytelling. For example, I think what The Heart is doing is really exciting. Also, I would love to hear more diverse voices on podcasts. And by diverse, yes, I mean non-white
Joe Richman@joediaries · Executive Producer at Radio Diaries
I'm a public radio lifer so I think the more public radio style podcasts the better. Especially because the public radio style is so many things right now. Hopefully the public radio style will evolve to basically mean: good, thoughtful, curious. As well as something that treats the listeners with respect, rather than as numbers to sell to an advertiser.
GovBizConnect@govbizconnect · Tom Skypek, Co-Founder at GovBizConnect
Thanks for sharing!