13: Michael May

Michael May, a Third Coast Gold Award winner, is a freelance radio and print journalist. He teaches radio documentary at the Salt Institute.

I’m not interested in doing stories where I just label somebody some clinical label — a misogynist, sociopath. It’s so easy to dismiss people, it’s much more difficult to understand them.

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12: Stephanie Foo

stephanieStephanie Foo, a former producer at Snap Judgment, is a producer at This American Life.

I think everybody has a story that is worth telling, but I think most people don’t know what their best story is. At all. They’ll think that it’s their most life or death moment or that it’s the moment that they feel changed them the most, but sometimes it’s the most surprising little moments that really touch people. And I don’t even know necessarily what those moments are in my life.

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11: Alex Goldman + PJ Vogt

Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt are the creators of TLDR.

The internet can feel like the same thing over and over again, and sometimes that’s because the internet is the same thing over and over again. But sometimes it’s because you’ve hemmed yourself to a boring internet by just paying attention to people who are much the same as you. So to the extent that we can get out of that, it gives our show more longevity.

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10: Tamara Keith

Tamara Keith is NPR’s White House Correspondent.

There’s drama in the human experience, and if people are willing to share that, there’s a way to make it into a good story… says the person who only does stories about the White House and Congress.

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9: Ann Heppermann

Ann Heppermann, a Peabody Award winner, produces Slate’s Culture Gabfest. She teaches radio writing and radio drama at Sarah Lawrence College.

I don’t think you want all crappy tape, but there’s something about texture of crappy tape and Skype tape. If you think about sound as a palette, I kind of like phone tape and I like how it adds an element of grit to it.

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8: Jeff Emtman

jeffemtman_selfie_75x75Jeff Emtman is the creator and host of Here Be Monsters.

You can think of your memory as a box full of photographs, like the ones your parents have in your basement. Just like old glossy prints. … And unfortunately, when you pick up an old photo print, what happens is you always leave a thumbprint on it, and overtime your memories become more and more thumb-printed. So if you pull up a memory enough times, you’ll just be looking at your own unique thumbprint.

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7: Zoe Chace

Zoe Chace is a reporter at NPR’s Planet Money.

A lot of times people don’t pay enough attention to their voicing at all. They don’t realize that their story doesn’t exist, unless people are grabbed by their voice. The story literally — like practically literally — is not happening. People are just missing it, so I always thought voicing is key, it’s central. You have to grab people. And I had a real approach where I was almost trying to scream out of the radio, “Listen now!” And, “Listen now!” And, “Listen now!”

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6: Ellen Horne

ellenhorne_selfie_75x75Ellen Horne is the Executive Producer of Radiolab.

When you’re trying to create something new, that kind of risk-taking has to happen in a low-stakes environment.

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5: Eric Mennel

ericmennel_selfie_75x75Eric Mennel is a producer for WUNC and Criminal.

People pooh-pooh the idea of logging like it’s the worst thing in the world. Some of the best techniques I’ve learned, in terms of interviewing, was from logging good interviewer’s tape. … Listening to Alex Kotlowitz conduct an interview was like it’s own class on how to make radio.

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4: Sean Cole


Sean Cole, a producer at This American Life, has also reported for Radiolab, Marketplace, and 99% Invisible.

Journalism is a translation of madness, and poetry is a transcription of madness.

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