Reality Radio, Second Edition

Telling True Stories in Sound

Edited by John Biewen, Alexa Dilworth

Second Edition, Revised and Expanded

272 pp., 6.125 x 9.25

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-3313-8
    Published: February 2017
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-3314-5
    Published: February 2017
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5157-4
    Published: February 2017

Documentary Arts and Culture

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This new 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, or 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, Alix Spiegel, Sandy Tolan, and Glynn Washington.

Jad Abumrad, Radiolab

Daniel Alarcón, Radio Ambulante

Jay Allison, The Moth Radio Hour,

damali ayo, independent audio producer

John Biewen, audio program director at CDS, Scene on Radio

Emily Botein, vice president of On-Demand Content, WNYC

Chris Brookes, independent audio producer, Battery Radio

Scott Carrier, This American Life, Home of the Brave

Katie Davis, special projects coordinator at WAMU, Neighborhood Stories

Sherre DeLys, 360documentaries, ABC Radio National

Ira Glass, This American Life

Alan Hall, independent audio producer, Falling Tree Productions

Dave Isay, StoryCorps

Natalie Kestecher, Pocketdocs, ABC Radio National

Starlee Kine, Mystery Show

The Kitchen Sisters, The Hidden World of Girls, Hidden Kitchens

Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder, Serial

Maria Martin, Latino USA, GraciasVida Center for Media

Karen Michel, independent audio producer

Joe Richman, Radio Diaries

Dmae Roberts, independent audio producer

Stephen Smith, APM Reports

Alix Spiegel, Invisibilia

Sandy Tolan, independent audio producer, Homelands Productions

Glynn Washington, Snap Judgment

About the Authors

John Biewen directs the audio program at the Center for Documentary Studies, where he teaches and produces/hosts the podcast Scene on Radio. His reporting and documentary work have taken him across the United States and to Europe, Japan, and India.
For more information about John Biewen, visit the Author Page.

Alexa Dilworth is publishing director and senior editor at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.
For more information about Alexa Dilworth, visit the Author Page.


"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, David Isay, and Sarah Koenig." —Rob Rosenthal, independent radio producer and lead instructor at the Transom Story Workshop

“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

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