/ Graduate Catalogue / Writing / 2012-2013

Truthiness Radio: From Tall-Tale Monologues to Radio Drama With Some Facts Mixed In

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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 such as The Moth Radio Hour and This American Life, as well as introduce works from less mainstream shows such as Benjamen Walker’s Too Much Information and American Public Media’s The Truth, a contemporary drama podcast. 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 ask, “Are there times when the crossover can be unethical?” “How much should you trust your audience to ‘get’ what you're doing?” “What's the difference between a fiction that accidentally scares a nation (Orson Welles) and a fiction that fools a nation (Mike Daisey)?” Producers for This American Life and the Moth Radio Hour will visit class to share their wisdom, 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.