Documentary Radio - Part 1
By Gary Ferrington
There was a time when radio was more than a commercial extension of the music industry or a chatter box of right and left wing zealots. Radio was both an entertainment and informational medium.
Today, there is a quiet renaissance in radio as the Internet makes it possible to listen to the best of independent American audio works being produce outside the mainstream of commercial venues.
In addition, one is able to access quality programs from other countries where radio has remained a vital source for information and entertainment including documentary, drama, storytelling, public affairs, as well as music - often live.
This is Part 1 of an on-going effort to introduce readers to sound as a communications medium. We hope you will give your ears to the audio medium and in doing so discover the power of words, soundscapes, and music working together to communicate ideas and experiences.
American RadioWorks. American Public Media is one of the nation's premier public radio producers. As the national documentary unit of Minnesota Public Radio it creates public affairs documentaries, series projects, and investigative reports for the public radio system and the Internet. Documentaries explore noteworthy "social and cultural subjects through stories with strong narrative threads."
The America Project. The America Project is a radio documentary series produced by Alix Spiegel. You can listen to the pieces in the project's online radio documentary archive. Funding for The America Project provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Programs air on This American Life and All Things Considered.
BBC Radio One Music. If your interest is music this site provides an attractive collection of 30 minute documentary radio programs on popular music and youth culture. These programs are broadcast on BBC Radio 1 and are archived on the Internet.
CBC Outfront is the place for listeners to get a crack at creating CBC radio. For the most part Outfront contributors are not journalists, they're people who have stories to tell of life experience and engaging journeys. They come from all across the country - from small communities, big communities, urban centres, rural areas - you name it. They can tell one story on one show, or they can keep coming back. Of particular value at this site is the online tutorials for making audio documentaries.
Sound Portraits. Sound Portraits Productions is an independent production company dedicated to telling stories that bring neglected American voices to a national audience. Whether on the radio, in print, or on the Web, Sound Portraits is committed to producing innovative works of lasting educational, cultural, and artistic value. Sound Portraits radio documentaries (broadcast on National Public Radio's All Things Considered and Weekend Edition) are audio profiles of men and women surviving in the margins. Told with care and dignity, the work depicts the lives of Americans living in communities often neglected or misunderstood. Sound Portraits frequently collaborates with people living in these hard-to-access corners of America, giving them tape recorders and microphones and helping them tell their own stories.
Sound Print. An extensive collection of documentary audio programs on a diversity of topics which can be listened to online. Archived programs date from 2001.
Third Coast Festival Short Docs. Each year the Third Coast Festival commissions four new radio stories based on a single topic, and in doing so invites producers and listeners to think about the versatility and flexibility of the documentary form. Producers and artists of all experience-levels are invited to submit proposals for stories relating to each year's chosen theme, and are encouraged to consider stories ranging from literal to metaphorical, narrative to sound-rich, cultural to political.The theme for the 2004 was DARKNESS. We chose DARK because it evokes countless different associations-from the absence of light, to a style of humor, from racism to personal demons.