Nancy Updike (on writing for the radio)

Writing, in a radio story, has to be tighter and simpler than print: the beginning should hook listeners fast and hard, the way a song does. A succession of straightforward, declarative sentences (like those in the beginnings above) might feel a bit too clipped in a print story, but it’s just right for radio. A reader can always go back and re-read part of a print story, or stop for a minute to think about a difficult section, and then resume reading. Radio has to be clear the first time around. Also, a radio story has to be a little sluttier with its charms: it can’t be coy and get to the most interesting stuff a couple of minutes in. It has to frontload the drama, and not be too subtle about it. Bullcreek, in Dave’s story, “hates” the nuclear waste proposition. Hate is a nice, strong word. Joe Roberts, in the Springsteen song, does not beat around the bush: his brother, Frankie, is no good. We, as listeners, know right away that this story will end in tragedy, but that doesn’t spoil the ending for us, just primes us for it. In fact, giving away the ending at the start of a radio story can be a great strategy, especially if the story itself is a slow build. —Nancy UpdikeNancy Updike (on writing for the radio) (

I just taught the last regular class of the 1-credit “Media Lab” class that students take if they want to get credit for working on The Setonian, and I can’t stop thinking about what I’ve got planned for next term. We’re going to do some podcast journalism that we’ll release for starters as part of the New Media Journalism program.

In the future, I’d love to see the Setonian have a podcasting editor, whose job would be to produce a 10-minute news magazine to go along with each issue of the paper. This would likely involve reading radio versions of stories already written for The Setonian, augmented by new audio interviews with principal sources, as well as original stories chosen for their value as a radio story. Stuff like a music therapy drumming session, the varieties of sacred music one might find at SHU (from organ music in a classroom, to guitars and folk songs at an informal Mass, to pop music with lyrics that students find spiritually meaningful), a story on avid videogamers (with bleeps and booms in the background), or a humorous neo-noir take on a mock crime scene investigation class in our forensic science major.

If you’re doing a story on cafeteria food, we’d need to hear clattering plates and the crunching of celery and the painful chugging sound of the motor in the dispenser that pushes out a slow trickle of water in the cafeteria.

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