True stories: As John Biewen began talking to the crowd at the Booksmith on Haight Street, his microphone, on a boom stand, kept dipping. A store assistant went up to adjust a knob on the boom. "You'd think I'd know how to operate one of these," Biewen said.
He probably does. Biewen is a program director at Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies, where he teaches and produces material for various public radio networks. He's the editor (with Alexa Dilworth) of the book "Reality Radio: Telling True Stories in Sound" (University of North Carolina Press).
With him at the Booksmith was Davia Nelson, the local radio producer who with Nikki Silva makes up the Kitchen Sisters, master storytellers, by way of direct interviews, on National Public Radio ("Hidden Kitchens," "Lost and Found Sound" and "The Hidden World of Girls"). The Sisters are among 19 radio producers (or teams) who contributed essays to the book. Others include Ira Glass of "This American Life," Jay Allison ("This I Believe") and Scott Carrier, a regular on "All Things Considered" and "Weekend America." The foreword is by Rick Moody, novelist, short-story writer and a radio nut since boarding school days in the mid-'70s in New Hampshire. Their essays are studded with insider anecdotes and examples of the writing and production process. They're "about the making of radio," Biewen said.
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