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Bringing My Father Home (Through Audio): How I Made #Southern242

January 24, 2014

Cross posted at Transom.org

or listen on KCRW

About Southern Flight 242

When I was seven years old, my father died in a commercial plane crash. It’s a fact I grew up knowing and something I never wanted to look into, until now.

After I decided to make a radio story about the crash, I often wondered if it was the best choice as my first big project as a new radio producer. It took far longer than I ever expected, in part because it was so personal. But I realized that if I couldn’t answer tough personal questions, how could I expect others to do the same?

The initial kernel of the story idea came back in 1997 when I stumbled on an article in the in the New York Times about the 20th anniversary of the Southern Flight 242 accident (my family somehow missed being invited). And then in 2012, fifteen years later, I happened to be in Georgia for a conference that was 70 miles from the crash site. The key event in those intervening years was participating in the Transom Story Workshop. In Woods Hole, I learned much of what I needed to tell the story. I learned even more along the way. Read more…

Crosspost: Above the Noise via @CultureStrike

November 19, 2014

Written by Michelle Chen and cross posted from CultureStrike.net

Facing Race

(Photo: Will Coley)

At the workshop, surrounded by a small gathering of people holding colorful hand-scrawled signs, Lupe Mendez, poet and self-proclaimed “Librotraficante,” reflected on his adventure as a book smuggler of sorts. Back in 2012, when the Arizona education authorities sought to crack down on a Chicano-focused ethnic studies program in public schools, he and other activists launched a campaign to “traffic” the contraband literature—works by radical authors, poets of color, and other rebel storytellers. Now before his fellow workshop participants, Mendez held up a simple placard displaying block-print alphabet in black and blue letters. He voiced his answer to the prompt for the workshop: getting people to think about why telling stories is important.

“See the letters below?” Mendez said. “This is my ‘why’: I want to share, discover the ways to tell the stories, create the voices of color that our histories need, and to build a Librotraficante Nation.”

The participants in the workshop at the Facing Race Conference, “Stepping Up Cultural Strategy: How can Racial Justice Rise Above the Noise?” focused on building out that storyline, the “why” that activists are questing for. The theme was the core of our “cultural strategy”: “the potential of arts experiences and cultural content to shift how people feel, think, and communicate about an issue. Read more…

New Series: Women’s Refugee Commission – 25 Years of Leading Change

October 19, 2014

I’m helping produce a series of video for the Women’s Refugee Commission which is celebrating 25 years of improving the lives and protecting the rights of refugee women and children.

New Project with @EndIsolation: “Detention Stories – Life Inside California’s New Angel Island”

August 13, 2014

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Audio Recordings Document Abuse in Immigration Detention

LOS ANGELES – Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) releases seven audio recordings and videos, featuring the voices of people in immigration detention across California.  As video and audio recording generally is not allowed in immigration detention facilities, people in immigration detention requested that CIVIC record their voices to share with a larger audience online.  Through these telephone conversations, CIVIC documented arbitrary use of solitary confinement, sexual assault, physical abuse by ICE officers, prolonged detention, retaliatory transfers, and other aspects of life inside immigration detention.

Read more…

Listen: Latino Advocates in the South urge us to be “beacons of light” for refugee kids

August 2, 2014

Last week, I participated in the 3rd annual SPINAcademy South in Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia. The four-day training is specifically designed for organizers and advocates working on immigration issues across the South; a sort of summer camp to learn effective communications skills and storytelling strategies for their organizations.

As part of the training, I led a “tactics team” on audio storytelling and the participants decided to make a radio story connecting their own migration experiences with those of refugee children now arriving at the US/Mexico border.

Read more…

12 Ways to Promote Your Upcoming Event with Social Media

July 26, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 12.45.08 PMEDTI just returned from a great week in the mountains of North Georgia with the 2014 SPIN Academy South (see photos here). I lead a session on “12 Ways to Promote Your Event with Social Media”. You can view the  presentation via the Prezi image above or here. You can also read an outline of what I recommend: Read more…

“Listen” to How Radio Can Improve Your Videos

June 12, 2014

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Recently I met up with folks at WITNESS to talk about how making public radio has changed my video production. I’ve been learning from great radio producers about what makes their work so compelling and I wanted to translate these lessons into tips for videography. Read the rest of the post here. 

11 (Unpretentious) Ways to Promote Your Radio Story with Social Media

June 6, 2014

Here’s a portion of my recent article for AIRBlast from the Association of Independents in Radio:

Introduction: Securing a broadcast is now just a step along the way in spreading a radio story. How can producers plug into online networks to hook new listeners? Social media strategist and AIR member Will Coley discovered his zest for radio at the first Transom Radio Story Workshop, and in 2012 developed the Working Now project as a SoundCloud Community Fellow. His stories have broadcast on KCRW’s UnFictional, Transom.org, and Georgia Public Broadcasting, among others. Here he shares his top tips.

For many broadcast journalists, social media can seem like a time-sucking procrastination tool that others use to boast. I’d like to suggest that it offers fruitful ways to increase the impact of your stories without seeming like a huckster.

After working for many years in nonprofits, I’ve learned that digital stories rarely have their own legs. As a new radio producer, I’ve discovered that I can apply many of the lessons I’ve learned to promoting stories. In much the same way, AIR’s experience with the Localore projects proved that it’s important to use an array of digital tools to engage new audiences (see “What’s Outside”).

We need to help people find what we make. Even if you work for a station or production company that has its own robust social media strategy, you still have a role in getting your work to new audiences.

Click here  to find 11 ways to promote your radio story, complete with pro tips to refine your strategy.