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

August 13, 2014


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


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 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,, 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.

Below you’ll find 11 ways to promote your radio story, complete with pro tips to refine your strategy. For example: online readers love numbered lists, and odd numbers provoke more clicks.  Read more…

New Prezi: What Videographers Can Learn from Public Radio

May 30, 2014

or “How learning about audio storytelling changed my videos”

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 6.17.34 PMEDT


Check out this presentation I created for WITNESS staff about the connection between audio storytelling and video.

New Video: Carlos Hidalgo from Adelanto Detention Center

May 13, 2014

Video for Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC)

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

January 24, 2014

Cross posted at

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…

How to Work with Professional Photographers at Your Organization’s Event

November 25, 2013
Photo of the Moth's Los Angeles Grand Slam by

Photo of the Moth’s Los Angeles Grand Slam by

Even in the age of digital video, good still photography is a vital part of your organization’s communications. Sure, you could buy a good camera for your staff to use or rely on participants to take cell phone photos to document your event. But good professional photography can make your work stand out in our media-saturated world. Sometimes you need to invest in the expertise of a professional photographer. A public event, like a fundraising dinner or a conference, is one of those occasions.

Based on my experience working with photographers over the years, I created a list of suggestions below. Please let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

Read more…

Five-Second Advocacy with Visual Images

June 26, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 7.53.45 PMPDTCheck out my recent presentation on visual communications for the SPIN Academy South. 

5 Key Relationships for Your Nonprofit…And the Tools and Tactics to Facilitate Them

March 29, 2013

Reposted from my post on the NTEN blog

Photo by Marta Evry

Photo by Marta Evry

Has this happened to your nonprofit? One staff person or select members of the communications team are assigned to manage all of your organization’s social media. While this might make sense, it can be a lonely and complicated job speaking for an entire organization to the outside world.

Instead of siloing social media into “that stuff that so-and-so does,” what would a more integrated approach look like?

Since social media relies on social networks, let’s examine junctures in various organizational relationships where social media could be useful. Read more…

My Video for @EndIsolation: Immigration Detention Separates Families

February 28, 2013

This is a video I made for Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) using old audio “tape” from a conversation with someone in immigration detention. I was inspired by my colleague Bianca Giaever’s excellent video “The Scared is Scared” to use text and other images to illustrate the story.  Upworthy shared it which resulted in over 7,000 views!

The Intersection of Social Media Content Strategy & Radio Storytelling?

January 15, 2013

Venn-diagram2This Venn diagram (left) helps describe how my 2013 is starting out.

I’ve been learning more about the attributes of radio storytelling since attending the excellent Transom Story Workshop. As a result, I’ve been experimenting more with audio as part of social media content strategies with my clients.

And now coincidentally, I’ve just published two blog posts for these two different (but overlapping?) audiences. Check them out:

Renew The Heart & Soul of your Non-Profit for a Chance To Win $10,000

December 3, 2012

via John Haydon

If you’re like most people who work at nonprofits, you’re inspired by quietly changing the world each and every day.

But sometimes it’s not easy to stay inspired – especially because you’re a human being with good days and bad days!

Re-inspire your sense of mission by participating in the Heart & Soul grant

The CTK Foundation has just launched the 2012/2013 Heart & Soul Grants, with over $55,000 to assist nonprofits like yours in accomplishing your mission.

But, more important than the money is the process for applying, which is unlike any other grant program!

How do you apply for these grants? Read more…

Finding the Story with Audio: Antoine Jenkins, 14-year-old campaign canvasser

November 8, 2012

As may know, lately I’ve been exploring digital storytelling through audio. I’ve been curious about how nonprofits and foundations can learn from the expertise of public radio producers in creating compelling stories.

With that in mind, I created this recent experimental piece about Antoine Jenkins who I met recently  on a canvassing trip to Las Vegas. As soon as I met Antoine, I knew I’d found a great “character” for a story.

While recording Antoine, I kept thinking about an excellent presentation by Planet Money’s reporter Robert Smith at the Third Coast Audio Festival. Smith carries a diagram of a story structurein his wallet: a story “embryo” by Dan Harmon, the creator of the TV Show “Community.” See the stages in the diagram on the left.

I realized that for a better story, I needed to record Antoine  going somewhere and doing something. So I made a point of following him as he canvassed for the Obama campaign. Antoine had already entered an unfamiliar situation and had to adapt to it. I included all the door knocking to show the drudgery of the task and how unfulfilling it could it. In the end, Antoine meets an actual voter. But how did Antoine change in the end? I think he felt more confident and like he contributed something important to Obama’s campaign. For me, this was an exercise in constructing an effective story. Let me know what you think.

If your organization wants to do the same, how would you put together a compelling story about a supporter or the community you serve?

Read more on these blogs that shared my audio story. 

Wrapping up a @SoundCloud Demonstration Project to Create & Curate Audio Content

October 26, 2012

For the past ten weeks, I’ve been working on a project supported by a 2012 SoundCloud Fellowship. “Working Now” is all about the working lives of people in the US and around the world. It’s also an homage to the great Studs Terkel and his book “Working” which will be 40 years old soon.

Here’s my audio recap of the project:

Read more…

Video: 6 Ways to Share Effectively via #SocialMedia (via Google+ Hangout on Air)

October 2, 2012

Google+ Hangout on Air:

Example of Integrating Easy Content Creation into Your Social Media Strategy

Today as part of the SPIN Academy in New York, I did a presentation on how to share effectively via social media. I invited folks from the excellent Undocubus/No Papers No Fear to join us via a video chat: B. Loewe, Marisa Franco and Tania Uzueta. Here’s the link to my prezi: 6 Ways to Share Effectively. This was my first experience using a video chat in a live presentation… so I apologize for the shots of the back of my head.

I’m excited by Google+ Hangouts on Air because it’s a great tool for easily recording interviews with folks without assigning them to write or make something for you (see # 6 in my prezi).  And after all, even CNN and the LA Times are using webcams these days!

Here’s a step-by-step checklist for recording your own Google+ Hangout on Air: Read more…

New project with @SoundCloud Fellowship: @WorkingRadio on #WorkingNow

August 22, 2012

The audio-sharing website, SoundCloud, recently selected a project that my Transom Story Workshop classmates and I proposed as a SoundCloud Fellowship. Our idea “Working Now” is to create and share stories about the working lives of people today in the US and around the world. We also want to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the book “Working” by oral historian/radio producer Studs Terkel. Read more…

Audio: @SoundCloud Hero Chats with Audio/Music Producers in Los Angeles

August 7, 2012

As part of my work with SoundCloud’s Heroes program, I interviewed two people I know who are using SoundCloud as part of their art.

Stay tuned for more interviews with other “Soundclouders” in the near future.

Storytelling for Social Change in the South: Social Media Trainings at SPIN & @SEIRN

July 17, 2012

I just got back from two and half weeks in Georgia and North Carolina where I was part of two great gatherings:  the first-ever SPIN Academy in the South and the Southeast Immigrant Rights Conference in Raleigh, NC.

You can check out my Prezis from the conferences here:

Read more…