30 things we’ve learned so far about Top Audio Storytelling

Four weeks in, here’s a summary of the lessons to date identified by my J463 class at the University of Oregon.

Some of the notes and ideas captured by the group

We ♥ Radio

  1. Radio can’t be killed
  2. Podcasting is undergoing a renaissance
  3. Podcasts can be about anything
  4. KLCC (our local NPR station) only has two full-time paid news positions

Tech Tips

  1. There’s lots of free audio software available to use online
  2. Be careful with “fair use”
  3. Bleed sound in and out to soften the cutting between sound sources
  4. Soft background noise/music can make a big difference
  5. Use of nat and background sound — often indiscernible, but it’s there
  6. The importance of a natural flow to background sounds and music
  7. Music must be authentic to the story being told
  8. Always bring spare batteries!


  1. Keep it conversational
  2. Your tone should be like you’re talking to a friend
  3. Be informal when it’s called for, but formal when it’s not
  4. You can choose not to use additional sound e.g. atmos, music etc.
  5. Compelling stories can overcome technical proficiencies
  6. The importance of suspense and narrative hooks
  7. Pacing is vital — consider extraneous sounds, deiberateness, flow, host rapport and mixing up your sources
  8. Slow down, be deliberate with your words
  9. Have a friendly voice, but still be a journalist
  10. Precision of language and of vocal delivery
  11. Importance of good visual descriptions
  12. Active participation — embed yourself in the story


  1. Where to place promotions and sponsor messages
  2. Set the scene
  3. Consider the building blocks of language; description and backdrop.
  4. Multiple ways to interact with the audience; from discussions with callers, to developing a relationship with your listeners so that you can emotionally move your audience
  5. Balance having enough sources without overwhelming your audiences with too many voices and perspectives
  6. Ensure there’s a purposefulness to your source choices