Sally Herships

An award-winning journalist who has been making radio for over a decade, she currently reports for American Public Media’s Marketplace. She has also produced or reported for ABC, BBC, The New York Times, NPR, WNYC, and Studio 360 and has put in many hours at Radiolab. Teaches writing for radio at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism; hosts the live storytelling night, Stories You Can’t Tell on the Radio; and runs the Radio Boot Camp program at UnionDocs. Her investigative project, “The Five Percent Rule,” written about HowSound, was awarded the 2011 Third Coast Radio Impact Award and Best Prepared Report for the 2011 Front Page Awards from the Newswomen’s Club of New York and was an IRE finalist. SLC, 2012–

Undergraduate Courses 2018-2019

Writing

What’s the Story? A Radio Journalism Class

Open , Seminar—Fall

Almost two years into 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.

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Previous Courses

What’s Your Story? A Radio Journalism Class

Open , Seminar—Fall

Print journalism may be under attack; but when it comes to multimedia, reporting is thriving: NPR, the BBC, Serial, Radiolab, Reveal. 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 beasts, both for stories and for the producers with the skills to know how to tell them. 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, and you’ll see what I mean). We’ll also cover the skills critical for all nonfiction narrative storytelling, print or audio, from The New York Times to This American Life. We’ll talk research, ethics, fact checking, how to find sources, and how to get them to talk to you. Finally, we’ll cover the art of the pitch. That’s industry lingo for selling your story. After all, 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

What Did You Say? A Radio Writing and Production Workshop

Open , Seminar—Fall

From initial story pitches to final audio files, learn how to write and produce great radio. In this course, we will make radio and, as we do so, explore what it means to write for the ear for both radio and podcasts. The technical aspects involved will include pro-tools, microphone techniques, interviewing skills, and podcast creation. Assignments will involve workshopping our stories, deep listening, critical analysis, and discussion of narrative texts. We’ll listen to and compare a variety of pieces across radio genres and from around the world, from the personal narratives on This American Life to the more artistic, thematic pieces being aired internationally, from ABC and the BBC to the Prix Europa and big-idea stories common to Radiolab and NPR’s Planet Money. As we workshop our pieces, we’ll “mic” ourselves closely, examining what happens at the intersection of sound and the written word. What does it mean to give a literal voice to your writing? How will the words you’ve written on paper adapt as they move onto the air? And how is it best to give voice to someone else’s story? Also, sound can mean theatre and music—when is it ethical to instill drama into a story, and when is it overkill? An end-of-semester field trip to WNYC, New York Public Radio, will be planned.

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