Session 3: How to Tell Your Story

Today we focused on character and voice, our first of two sessions on the topic. We began our meeting by listening to all 25 minutes of one of my and Michaela’s favorite podcast episodes: Real Teens, Fake Babies from The Longest Shortest Time. This episode is a textbook example of the way voice (in the sense of both individual character development and the actual sound of someone’s voice) can be used to enhance a story. It also has a textbook story structure, which helped us build on what we learned last week. The reporter finds the story by exploring something small that catches her interest, and the story encompasses strong character development, conflict, surprise, change, and resolution. And it uses different types of sound really well, from great nat sound to audio diaries. And it’s hilarious, and it’s about teenagers. We’re big fans.

After discussing Real Teens, Fake Babies, we moved into a discussion about voice. We talked about writing for radio briefly (we’ll get into that more later), but we spent most of our time emphasizing the idea that radio storytelling is intentionally relaxed, conversational and playful.

Then we listened to another Radio Rookies piece: Not the ‘Right’ Kind of Gay. It’s quick, six minutes, but a powerful story. Our students were struck by how vulnerable the reporter was. They compared it to Overcoming the Insult of ‘Acting White’ from last week. They felt like Not the ‘Right’ Kind of Gay had an ending that was a little bit messier than ‘Acting White.’ I love how many examples of great, vulnerable, identity-based teen storytelling we are able to show them.

We ended the session by focusing on our This I Believe essays. We’re super excited to record these. We talked through them for a little bit, and then used the rest of the hour for work time. We’re continuously impressed with the work they’ve been doing.

Next week they’ll voice their This I Believe essays at KBIA! We’re also having them record one audio diary on their phones or iPads this week, just to get them used to recording themselves, which will be fun to listen to.