About Reality Radio, Second Edition

Reality Radio
Telling True Stories in Sound
Second Edition, Revised and Expanded

Edited by John Biewen and Alexa Dilworth

In the series Documentary Arts and Culture
Published by the University of North Carolina Press and CDS Books at the Center for Documentary Studies in February 2017

Approx. 272 pages
$29.95, paperback | ISBN 978-1-4696-3313-8

Available at bookstores or from the University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: February 2017

This revised and expanded edition of Reality Radio celebrates today’s best audio documentary work by bringing together some of the most influential and innovative practitioners from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. With a new foreword and five new essays, this book takes stock of the transformations in radio documentary since the publication of the first edition: the ascendance of the podcast; greater cultural, racial, and topical variety; and the changing economics of radio itself. In twenty-four essays total, documentary artists tell—and demonstrate, through stories and transcripts—how they make radio the way they do, and why.

Whether the contributors to the volume call themselves journalists, storytellers, even audio artists—and although their essays are just as diverse in content and approach—all use sound to tell true stories, artfully.

Contributors include Jad Abumrad, Daniel Alarcón, Jay Allison, damali ayo, John Biewen, Emily Botein, Chris Brookes, Scott Carrier, Katie Davis, Sherre DeLys, Ira Glass, Alan Hall, Dave Isay, Natalie Kestecher, Starlee Kine, The Kitchen Sisters, Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder, Maria Martin, Karen Michel, Joe Richman, Dmae Roberts, Stephen Smith, Aliz Spiegel, Sandy Tolan, and Glynn Washington.

John Biewen is audio program director at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, and host and producer of the CDS podcast, Scene on Radio. He teaches audio to undergraduate, graduate, and continuing studies students in CDS’s Certificate in Documentary Studies program and produces documentary work for NPR, PRI, American Public Media, and other public radio audiences. Alexa Dilworth is publishing director and senior book editor at the Center for Documentary Studies.

Praise for Reality Radio

“Some of the people in Reality Radio I’ve met; some I’ve worked with. Yet much of the wisdom found in these pages is new to me. Each piece taught me something about radio that I didn’t know.”—Starlee Kine, host of Mystery Show, from the foreword

“Somehow in this manic digital age, Reality Radio—a mere book!—is more relevant than ever. Form and function manifest, here is the story of contemporary documentary audio, thoughtfully composed and offered straight from its most respected producers. Reality Radio is required reading for anyone at the beginning of her audio career. Or in the middle. Or finishing up. And for all invested listeners. This is radio canon.”—Julie Shapiro, executive producer, Radiotopia from PRX

“Reality Radio is a fabulous book I wish I could have read when I started at NPR. It would have shaved ten to fifteen years off the learning curve discovering how to make great radio.”—Bob Edwards, former host of the Bob Edwards Show and now the Bob Edwards Podcast

“How could something so good get better? Well, John Biewen and Alexa Dilworth have managed to do just that. Reality Radio will remain required reading for all my students—especially given the addition of essays from some of my radio heroes like Alix Spiegel, Dave Isay, and Sarah Koenig.”—Rob Rosenthal, independent radio producer and lead instructor at the Transom Story Workshop