I’m happy to share my adventures with everyone again! It has been adventurous. I’ve had the opportunity to write, research, and voice my own radio piece. I’ve talked to extraordinary innovators, like a woman who is starting a zero waste store and another who wrote a book inspiring young girls to pursue science. I’ve even had an opportunity to Skype with the government of Paris, which just passed a green transportation law banning cars built before 1997.
Now that I’ve had a significant amount of time in my internship, I figured I would share the creative process we go through at Living on Earth when we take an idea and turn it into a radio piece.
Of course, first, we need to find an idea. It can be anything, well anything related to the environment. There are a few hubs for that. I like Eurekalert.org, which provides a feed of all sorts of new scientific studies. Many of them are related to environmental health. I found the study associated with my bee piece on this website.
Other good resources include Google News, Environmental Health News, and Daily Climate. It’s also always great to find an environmental perspective for a mainstream news event, like the election. Sometimes good stories just appear, right at our feet. Literally. As I mentioned in my last post, we often receive advanced copies of books in the mail. Some of these books are really interesting, so we invite quite a few authors to the program.
Once we have a good story, we need to figure out how to approach it: What angle will we take? Who could we interview? For the Paris piece that I mentioned above (it is yet to be aired), I spoke to over 10 people in order to research the topic and figure out what would make the best story. For this specific story, language was a main barrier. There were a few fantastic, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic potential guests that were not ideal for our English speaking audience, but I found one that was just right.
Next, we need to finalize a list of questions for the guest. I usually write most of them before I even speak to potential guests. I then revise after I talk to the guests and figure out what they can speak about the best. We often call the pre-interview conversations, “test interviews.” These allow for the guests to become familiar with our questions, for us to become more familiar with the topic, and for us to make sure all of the technology works.
Next, it’s interview time! We usually record on an iPhone App called “Report It” while we speak to a guest on video chat. Interviews last between a half hour and an hour. It’s always great to finally see what our guests look like because prior to that we usually just talk to them on the phone.
After that, we edit the interview. We use a program called Pro Tools to edit the audio, which includes editing out awkward silences, filler words, and parts of the interview that don’t fit. Sometimes we have to edit hour long interviews down to just 15 minutes, and that can be tough. For one of the pieces I did, I also was able to play with putting music into the piece.
Then, once we write the introduction, the DACS (a blurb that goes with each story), and choose pictures, we’re done!
It always feels great after we finish a story. And then… its time to work on another one!
I like working on the show a lot. It feels great to see a finished product every time a piece I worked on goes on the air. And it’s great to feel like such an important part of the team. I know that I would love a career where I could feel the same way. I’ve been able to work on my writing skill, my creative skills, and my people skills all while learning about all sorts of new technologies. Lastly, I love that this is social justice work. There are so many important issues that we cover on the show, and it’s great to be able to share these issues with the world.
I know that all of these skills will be very useful after Brandeis. I am very happy about this internship placement.
Jay Feinstein, ’17