Ann Heppermann

Undergraduate Discipline

Writing

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–

Current undergraduate courses

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

Spring

We are living in what is being called “The Golden Age of Narrative Radio.” Shows such as This American Life, The Moth, Radiolab, Snap Judgment, and numerous other story-driven shows not only dominate podcasts and airwaves but have created the paradigm for emerging shows such as 99% Invisible, Love + Radio, and many others. This class will teach students the practicalities of how narrative radio journalism works while we explore what this narrative movement means for the future of audio journalism. Students will learn practical skills: pitching shows by using actual “call for stories” from This American Life and Snap Judgment, learning the fundamentals of how to record and mix stories using the latest digital editing technology, distinguishing what narrative editors expect from freelancers, finding out how to adapt a written piece for broadcast, as well as discovering the kinds of narrative internships that are available. We will also 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, The Heart, 99% Invisible, 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? Students will also have the opportunity to meet with producers and editors from This American Life, Radiolab, and other established shows, who will 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, the students will showcase their works at UnionDocs, a documentary collective and gallery in Brooklyn, New York.

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Related Cross-Discipline Paths

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Writing and Producing Audio Fiction

Fall

The goal of this class is to start a revolution. Over the past few years, we have entered into a time that is being called “The Second Golden Age of Radio.” But there is a problem. This Golden Age is primarily nonfiction. This class will change that. Students will learn to write and produce groundbreaking contemporary audio dramas for radio and podcast. We will listen to emerging works from podcasts such as Welcome to Night Vale, The Truth, Wiretap, and The Organist, as well as by authors who have played in this field: Miranda July, Rick Moody, Gregory Whitehead, Joe Frank, and others. We will also create our own critical discourse for contemporary audio drama—analyzing writings and essays from the fields of screenwriting, sound art, contemporary music, and literature—to help understand and analyze the works that we are creating. The creators of Welcome to Night Vale and The Truth will visit the class to talk about their stories and production processes. Students will also have the chance to sit in on a writers’ meeting at The Truth and pitch their fiction ideas to the professional team. The class will also contribute to the newly created Sarah Lawrence College International Audio Fiction Award (aka, The Sarahs)—the first international audio fiction award in the United States. Students will make works for The Very, Very, Short, Short Stories Contest and help curate works for the award show podcast. At the end of the semester, students will take over WGXC radio station in the Hudson Valley and broadcast their final conference projects. Students in this course will also contribute to the collaborative curricula being developed with the Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts and other festivals, including The Third Coast International Audio Festival and the Hearsay Audio Festival in Kilfinane, Ireland.

Faculty
Related Cross-Discipline Paths

Previous courses

Writing, Radio, and Aurality

Spring

In this course, we will explore what it means to write for radio and other aural contexts. The course will involve deep listening, critical analysis, and discussion of narrative texts. We’ll listen to a variety of works across radio’s history—from The Futurists to Glenn Gould to This American Life, particularly taking a close look at emerging radio projects and sound art organizations such as free103point9, Third Coast International Audio Festival, East Village Radio, and Megapolis. Students also will learn how to create a broadcast or installation piece that will be premiered at UnionDocs gallery in Brooklyn. The technical aspects involved in the course include microphone techniques, interviewing skills, digital editing, and podcast creation. Guest lecturers will include writers, hosts, producers, and installation artists, who will discuss their works and show their range of writing and experiences in the field. An end-of-semester field trip to WNYC New York Public Radio will be planned.

Faculty

Writing and Producing Radio Dramas

Spring

This is a radio writing and production course that uses facty-fiction as its guide. Fiction will be used to tell truths, and truths will be used to tell fiction. Throughout the semester, we’ll examine radio works that use fact as the inspiration for some of the best audio dramas, monologues, and mockumentaries aired in the past 100 years.  We’ll listen to and dissect works from well-known shows like The Moth Radio Hour and Selected Shorts to emerging shows like American Public Media's "The Truth."   We'll listen to works by: Orson Welles, Gregory Whitehead, Miranda July, Natalie Kestecher, Rick Moody and others.  We’ll also tune the ear to radio works from around the world: England, Australia, Germany, and Norway. 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 land on the moon. We’ll also look at how fiction can illuminate truth—and discuss what happens when those lines blur. We'll listen to works by and we’ll tour WNYC New York Public Radio. 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. At the end of the semester, we’ll create and upload works to the Public Radio Exchange and have an open gallery show of the final conference projects at the UnionDocs Gallery in Brooklyn.

Faculty