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. Recipient of Peabody, Associated Press, Edward R. Murrow, and Third Coast International Audio Festival awards. Transmission artist with free103point9; work 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, Arizona Humanities Council, and Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. Currently, she is a Rosalynn Carter for Mental Health Journalism Fellow and will be making a multimedia documentary about preteen anorexia in partnership with Ms. Magazine and NPR. SLC, 2010–

Undergraduate Courses 2020-2021

Writing

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

Open , Seminar—Fall

The goal of this class is to start a revolution. We are currently in a robust audio industry, one that continues to do well even during this time of COVID-19. Even as audio thrives, however, there is a problem: The field is dominated by nonfiction. Our goal is to change that. In this class, students will learn to write and produce groundbreaking contemporary audio dramas and, eventually, attempt to sell them to a network. We will listen to works from venerable podcasts, such as Welcome to Night Vale, The Truth, Homecoming, Black Tapes, and Bright Sessions. We will also listen to audio fiction from collectives like Mermaid Palace that explicitly address identity and sexuality to challenge the status quo. And we will 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. Creators from Welcome to Night Vale, Mermaid Palace, Gimlet, Neon Hum, and Audible will join our discussions to talk about their stories and production processes. The class will also act as judges for The Best New Artist category for the 2020 Sarah Awards—the first international audio-fiction award in the United States. Throughout the semester, students will make works and create their own podcasts. At the end of the semester, students will pitch their fiction ideas to audio executives at Audible—and who knows, maybe land a deal!

Faculty

Narrative Journalism in the Age of S-Town and other Serialized Podcasts

Open , Seminar—Spring

We are living in “The Golden Age of Narrative Audio.” Shows like This American Life, Radiolab, More Perfect, 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. We’ve also entered the age of the serialized podcast with limited-run series like Missing Richard Simmons, Heaven’s Gate, S-Town, and others put out by podcast companies like Gimlet, Panoply, First Look Media, Pineapple Street Media, and WNYC Studios. This class will teach students the practicalities of how narrative radio journalism in the age of serialized podcasting works, while we explore what this narrative movement means for the future of audio journalism. Students will learn practicalities; e.g., pitching both multipart and narrative stories, using the actual “call for stories” from studios and shows like This American Life, Radiolab, and Nancy and from podcasting companies like Pineapple Street Media and Gimlet; the fundamentals of how to record and mix stories using the latest digital editing technology; what narrative editors expect in a series; and the skills necessary for a podcast internship. We will also reflect on the theoretical and ethical considerations for this “Golden Age of Narrative Audio.” 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 is “yes.” We’ll discuss why.) Producers, editors, and freelancers for This American Life, Radiolab, and Pineapple Street Media will visit the class to provide insight into their shows and answer student questions. The class will also take a field trip to Gimlet or Pineapple Street Media to see podcasting in action.

Faculty

Previous Courses

What’s the Story? An Audio Journalism Class

Open , Seminar—Fall

Halfway through a politically divisive presidency that has fractured the country—and with the proliferation of fake news—journalism is more important than ever. And so are the skills required to do the job. The landscape of radio is exploding, and new podcasts are being launched almost faster than listeners can decide which episode to download next. These outlets, shows, and storymaking machines are hungry—both for stories and for the producers with the skills to know how to tell stories. In this class, we’ll learn the fundamentals of making radio news—both writing and production, for short stories and long. We’ll cover editing, software, interviewing skills, and, of course, how to hold your microphone. We’ll learn what makes a story, how to get good tape, and how to write for the ear (very different than for the eye—just try comparing an article from The New York Times with a transcript from NPR). We’ll also cover the skills critical for all nonfiction narrative storytelling, print or audio, from “Morning Edition” to “This American Life.” We’ll talk research, ethics, fact checking, how to find sources, and how to get them to talk. Finally, we’ll cover the art of the pitch. That’s industry lingo for selling your story. It’s no good getting the scoop if you don’t know how to sell your stuff. News is new. Come and learn something new.

Faculty

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

Open , Seminar—Year

The goal of this class is to start a revolution. Over the past few years, we have entered into a time of what 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 Lore, 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 Limetown and The Truth and other audio fiction makers will visit the class to talk about their stories and production processes. 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 year, students will take over WGXC radio station in the Hudson Valley and broadcast their final conference projects.

Faculty
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