Hearing is Believing: An Audio Documentary Intensive

In this weeklong, morning-till-night immersion in making audio documentaries, you’ll learn hands-on skills in recording and digital audio mixing; discuss issues such as the ethics of documentary work; explore varied uses for audio documentaries; and hear accomplished producers play and talk about their work in evening presentations. During the week you’ll collaborate with a fellow student to produce and edit a short audio documentary, from the first interview and sound-gathering to the final mix. The intensive will be led by John Biewen, along with guest instructor Shea Shackelford and a guest lecturer to be announced later. Examples of last year's student projects can be found here. (40 hours)

John Biewen is audio program director at the Center for Documentary Studies. Besides teaching summer audio intensives and undergraduate courses, he produces documentaries and features for NPR, PRI, American Public Media, and other public radio audiences. Biewen has been making radio since 1983, including eight years spent producing documentaries for American RadioWorks. His work has won many honors, including two Robert F. Kennedy Awards, the Scripps Howard National Journalism Award, and the Third Coast International Audio Festival’s Radio Impact Award. In 2015 he launched CDS's biweekly podcast Scene on Radio.

Additional information:
Students will edit on desktop workstations using Hindenburg audio editing software. Students who have their own field recording equipment (recorder, microphone, and headphones) should bring it; equipment will be provided for those who don't. No experience in audio production is required.

The enrollment fee includes dinner the first night and all lunches during the week. Students are responsible for housing and transportation.

Hours for the intensive are:
Sunday, July 5: 1 p.m.–9 p.m.
Monday–Friday, July 6–10: 9 a.m.–9 p.m.
Saturday, July 11: 9 a.m.–3 p.m.

The intensive concludes Saturday, with a public presentation of student work ending at 3 p.m.

See the course blog for a preliminary schedule, information on housing options, and more.

Add Section Location Ages Grades Instructor Dates Days Times Fees Details Open
Center for Documentary Studies
CDS Auditorium
Biewen 7/5 - 7/11 Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Varied $975.00 View

Making It Sing: An Audio Documentary Intensive (ONLINE)

This intensive six-day workshop for producers with some experience—or a lot—gives you a chance to focus on a challenging project or to stretch and try something new. You’ve recorded interviews and gathered sound, and you’re ready to construct a six- to twelve-minute audio piece, or part of a larger podcast episode or series. You’ll bring your own recordings—logged, transcribed, and ready to go. You’ll get instructive sessions and personal, small-group guidance from seasoned radio producers, and from your peers, as you structure and script your story, record your narration tracks (if any), and mix your piece on CDS’s Hindenburg workstations—or, if you prefer, on your laptop with your own editing software. Saturday morning, we listen! The intensive concludes that day with a presentation of student work (or works in progress) ending by 1 p.m. See the course blog for a preliminary schedule and more. The intensive will be led by John Biewen, along with a guest instructor. (35 hours)

John Biewen is audio program director at the Center for Documentary Studies, where he teaches and produces its documentary podcast, Scene on Radio. Before coming to CDS, John reported for Minnesota Public Radio, NPR News, and American RadioWorks. His work has aired on programs such as All Things Considered, This American Life, Studio 360, and the BBC World Service. Since its launch in 2015, Scene on Radio has received more than five million downloads and the show’s Seeing White series was nominated for a 2017 Peabody Award. John is co-editor of the book Reality Radio: Telling True Stories in Sound.  

Additional information:

This course will be held using Zoom. The instructor will send further instructions for class access and equipment needed closer to the start date. 

Helpful links for students:

Join a Zoom meeting:

Meeting controls :

Please keep in mind that, while students need to be available during the listed course times, some of that time will be devoted to working on individual projects. Your instructor will communicate with you about the class schedule and the times that the class will convene online as a group as well as the times that will be spent working on your own..

Hours for the Intensive are:

Monday, July 20: 3 p.m.–5 p.m.

Tuesday–Friday, July 21–24: 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Saturday, July 25: 10 a.m.–1 p.m.

AIR stipend: Members of the Association of Independents in Radio (AIR) can claim one of five $100 stipends to attend Making It Sing. Recipients are asked to communicate to AIR's membership, via tweets or a post to AIRdaily, about their experience, and to write a short evaluation afterwards. Stipends are first-come, first served.

See the application form here, and you may contact [email protected] for more information.

Add Section Location Ages Grades Instructor Dates Days Times Fees Details Open
Center for Documentary Studies
Virtual Classroom
Biewen 7/20 - 7/25 Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Varied $855.00 View