Ann Heppermann

A Brooklyn-based, independent, radio/multimedia documentary producer, transmission sound artist, and educator, her stories air nationally and internationally on National Public Radio, the BBC, and on numerous shows, including: This American Life, Radio Lab, Marketplace, Morning Edition, Studio 360, and many others. A Peabody award-winning producer, she has also received Associated Press, Edward R. Murrow, and Third Coast International Audio Festival awards. A transmission artist with free103point9, her work has been exhibited at UnionDocs, Chicago Center for the Arts, and other venues. She has taught classes and workshops at Duke Center for Documentary Studies, Smith College, Columbia University, and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism; for years, she was the director of radio at Brooklyn College. Co-creator of Mapping Main Street, a collaborative media project documenting the nation’s more than 10,000 Main Streets, which was created through AIR’s MQ2 initiative along with NPR, the CPB, and the Berkman Center at Harvard University. Her work has been funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Association of Independents, the Arizona Humanities Council, and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. Currently, she is a Rosalynn Carter for Mental Journalism Fellow and will be making a multimedia documentary about preteen anorexia in partnership with Ms. Magazine and NPR. SLC, 2010–

Course Information

Previous courses

How Does This American Life Do What They Do? A Narrative Writing for Radio Course

Spring

We are living in what some are calling “The Golden Age of Narrative Radio.” Shows like This American Life, The Moth, Radiolab, Snap Judgment, and numerous other story-driven shows not only dominate podcasts and airwaves but also have created the paradigm for emerging shows like 99% Invisible, Love + Radio, and many others. This class will teach students the practicalities of how narrative radio journalism works as we explore what this narrative movement means for the future of audio journalism. Students will learn practicalities—e.g., pitching these shows by using actual “call for stories” from This American Life and Snap Judgment; the fundamentals of how to record and mix stories using the latest digital editing technology; what narrative editors expect from freelancers; how to adapt a written piece for broadcast; and what kinds of narrative internships are available. We will reflect on the theoretical and ethical considerations for this “Golden Age of Narrative Radio.” We will listen to and analyze works from established shows such as This American Life, The Moth, Radiolab, and Planet Money, along with works from emerging shows such as Love + Radio, Snap Judgment, Audio Smut, 99% Invisible, The Organist, and many others. We will ask questions such as: How does imposing narrative structures affect nonfiction storytelling? How do narrative shows deal with ethical missteps? What does it mean to have “a voice”? Does it matter who gets to tell the story? (Answer on the last question, “Yes.” We’ll discuss why.) Producers, editors, and freelancers for This American Life, Radiolab, and The Moth will visit the class to provide insight into their shows and answer student questions. The class will also take a field trip to WNYC, which houses Radiolab and other national shows. At the end of the semester, students will take over the Hudson Valley community station, WGXC, to broadcast their final projects.

Faculty

Writing and Producing Radio Dramas

Spring

Radio drama is far from dead. In fact, this class proves that it is poised for a revolution. The purpose of this class is to learn about contemporary radio fiction and push the boundaries of what is currently being created. We will listen to emerging works by Jonathan Mitchell, Miranda July, Rick Moody, Natalie Kestecher, Gregory Whitehead, and others. We’ll also analyze programs like “Selected Shorts,” “The Truth,” “RadioEye,” “The Next Big Thing,” “Wiretap,” and others. We’ll tune the ear to radio works from around the world—England, Australia, Germany, and Norway—to explore how and why other countries have carried on the tradition of radio drama more than here in the United States. You’ll discover how knitting with dog hair fooled a nation and hear the letter that President Nixon wrote if Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had crash-landed rather than landing on the moon. We’ll also look at how fiction can illuminate truth—and discuss what happens when those lines blur. Class will include author, actor, and producer visits. We’ll also have organized performances throughout the semester for those who would like to participate. Students will learn how to write for radio, produce and mix pieces, and create a podcast. We use Soundcloud extensively to comment on and share works. At the end of the semester, we will upload works to the Public Radio Exchange, and the best work may air on “The Organist” podcast. 

Faculty