Another Brick in the Wall?

When I produce a story, the first thing I do after collecting interviews is to transcibe them.  I'll listen to the tapes, little by little, and type out the interview into a Word document.  From there, I'll plan out the story structure and cut the raw audio into clips which I'll rearrange Frankenstein-style into my final piece.

Transcription, the process of writing out the interviews, is a long and slow process.  Painfully so.  An 60-minute interview can take me weeks to finish transcribing.  It's absolutely horrible.

So when, the go-to site for NPR-type audio production, published an article on tape logging and transciption, I was all ears.  Or eyes.  Whatever.

It's an awesome article, featuring ideas developed at Radiolab, Snap Judgement, and other great shows.  But I noticed something down the article a bit.  The Radiolab method was spreading out to other shows, like Reply All and Invisibilia, because former Radiolab interns who did the transciption work branched out to do their own shows.  It made me think about the connections between various shows...

  • ... I discovered Radiolab, The Moth, The Truth, 99 Percent Invisible, and Planet Money through This American Life
  • ... Planet Money is a co-production of TAL and NPR News
  • ... Moth veteran Elna Baker now scouts stories for TAL
  • ... Invisibilia and More Perfect branched off of Radiolab
  • ... Snap Judgement and 99 Percent Invisible have producers in common
  • ... It appears that ex-Planet Money's Chana Joffee-Walt might end up replacing Ira Glass should he ever retire
  • ... Many of the above shows appear to all come out from either NYC or Oakland
  • ... Jessica Abel did the rounds with most of these shows for Out on the Wire
  • ... Transom has interviews with staffs from most of these shows

That above list may appear to be the beginnings of a conspiracy theorist's manifesto, but it points to a bit of groupthink I may have trapped myself into.  About seventeen years ago or so, I started listening to This American Life.  Over the years, TAL introduced me to several different shows.  I started listening to them, and then started listening to other shows those new shows presented.  Over time, it appears that there's this group of maybe 50 producers and other production staff that I listen to through their podcasts, and they all know and work with each other from time to time.  Maybe 50 is too small an estimate, but holy crap, my listening experience is apparently a bit insular!

(Keep in mind that all these podcasts are top notch.  And all have their individualities.  Jad Abrumand's use of sound differs from Leon Morimoto, but to me, the basic ideas of what makes quality audio seems to pervade all of these shows).

Now, I do pepper my listening on occasion with some other work, like Random Tape and Everything Is Stories.  And HowSound does feature up-and-coming producers outside the NYC-Oakland vortex, though these folks come out of the Transom Story Workshop, which teaches elements of this style of storytelling.

But I wonder if I need to take a break from the NYC-Oakland vortex and start listening to other folks outside of it.  And start looking for writings of producers who aren't part of what might be some sort of assembly line.

Everything is Stories is the podcast that captured my imagination enough to take this plunge with Random Waves.  Well, this episode and this story from the BBC.  I first heard about EIS from an OKCupid date.  The date wasn't great, but the podcast was.

Maybe I should go on more OKCupid dates.