Author Archives: Evan

Evan SoundCloud Voices

Storytelling With Social Audio: How AIR Cultivates New Media Life Forms

By AIR Media Strategist Jessica Clark

Last night, San Francisco makers and hackers packed SoundCloud’s SF office to the gills for the Making Of…Zeega event. Co-organized by veteran audio producers The Kitchen Sisters, Zeega, AIR and KQED, the event marked the launch of The Making Of…Studio: a digital sandbox for users to experiment with the Zeega platform, and share their strange and beautiful creations.

BA3TUpDCcAA__OB (1) (Photo by Manolo Espinosa)

After learning how to mash social audio, animated gifs and text up into their own Zeegas, the crowd got straight to work. See what they made by clicking through this “audiogif“—a collaborative, immersive work of poetry.

Hacking Storytelling One Station at a Time
The Kitchen Sisters—Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva—are spearheading The Making Of… at KQED for AIR’s Localore production. Across the country, the 10 Localore teams are forging new forms of collaborative production with their communities, and in the process revealing the potential of social audio.

A national initiative with principal support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Localore aims to expand public stations’ capacity to innovate and sink taproots more deeply into their communities. Last fall, AIR held a competition for both stations and producers to step up to this challenge, and then matched up the 10 producer-station teams to invent new forms of journalism and storytelling that expand public media to all Americans.

The teams hit the ground running in the spring. Localore’s motto is “go outside”—i.e., outside of station walls, outside of traditional broadcast formats, and out into the streets to bring “full-spectrum public media” directly to community members who might not always hear themselves on the air.

The initiative reflect’s AIR’s larger goals: to identify, cultivate and deploy talented producers to solve conundrums posed by rapid transformations in the media landscape. Nearly 1000 members strong, AIR is a creative braintrust of makers who tell stories with sound, and increasingly are moving into cross-platform creation. The core Zeega team—Kara Oehler, Jesse Shapins and James Burns—developed the guts of their platform during an earlier AIR challenge, Makers Quest 2.0.

Now, Zeega is integral to the Localore production, partnering with eight of the 10 projects to craft cutting-edge immersive documentaries such as the recently launched Rough Ride, an eye-popping interactive expedition through the North Dakota oil boom led by Localore producer Todd Melby.

The teams are working not only with Zeega, but with other innovative platforms—including SoundCloud, Cowbird, and ThingLink—that allow users to become documentarians of their own lives. And they’re reimagining the relationship between producer, station and audience.

Here’s how:

Enable Audiences to Co-Create

AMM map screen

In Austin, Localore producer Delaney Hall has launched the Austin Music Map (AMM) with KUT and Zeega, to explore the city’s hidden music spaces in tandem with performers and fans. In December, the AMM team invited listeners to share the the sounds of their city, and then gave some of Austin’s best musicians two weeks to transform them into original compositions.

The full collection, titled Austin Remixed, will be released at AMM’s February music festival, MapJam 2013. But here’s a teaser:

Collaborative production is also central to AIR’s Ed Zed Omega (EZO) project, which invited users to help craft “authentic fiction” by interacting online and in person with fictional students who asked “what is education for?” Produced by game designer Ken Eklund at Minnesota station TPT, EZO ran over the course of the 2012 fall semester. Find out what happened.

Embedding Where the Action Is

On Sunday, 60 men from Esquipulas, Guatemala gathered at the Santa Cecila Church in South L.A. Armed with dyed sawdust, stencils and small colanders, they crafted the alfombras—”rugs” that worshippers carrying the Cristo Negro (Black Christ) would step upon on their way out of the church. Sonic Trace reporters were there to capture the procession:

The feast of the Black Christ is only one of the myriad religious celebrations by Central and South American communities that the Sonic Trace team is documenting. Led by Localore producer Anayansi Diaz-Cortes at KCRW, the team has embedded their portable sound booth, La Burbuja (the bubble), at Santa Cecila to record the stories of those attending Sunday mass.

The team and Zeega are hard at work on an immersive site that will launch in the coming weeks to track La Burbuja’s movements around L.A., and feature a rich array of photos, videos and radio pieces exploring links between local immigrants and their communities of origin.

The church is La Burbuja’s second location. The booth was previously installed at Oaxacan restaurant Guelaguetza—the site of the Sonic Trace launch party. Over the holidays, KCRW aired a series of sonic profiles based on interviews that the team conducted at Guelaguetza. Here’s Diaz-Cortes interviewing Paulina Lopez, whose family runs the restaurant:

AIR’s Hear Here project at Oakland-based station KALW has also built a novel sound booth to capture and share stories…but on a more local scale. Producers Erica Mu and Audrey Dilling aim to build connections across the Bay Area. Working with SoundCloud, they developed an interactive audio map of stories they’ve collected, out in the streets and at events hosted with libraries and other local cultural hotspots. Catch up with the project in this video, and submit your own story about a favorite spot here.

Enlisting Field Reporters
Localore teams are also working with community members to gather targeted observations—reframing them as citizen scientists, urban ethnographers and creative placemakers.

NEW accents viz

Producer Jennifer Brandel heads up a team of gung-ho gumshoes recruited from the WBEZ newsroom, who collaborate with listeners to investigate their burning questions about Chicago, In the fall, the team asked users to go one step further in helping to define what makes the city distinct. Reporter Annie Minoff worked with linguist Corrine McCarthy to devise a script that volunteers could read to demonstrate the traits of the Chicago accent. Listen to samples from the more than 350 Windy City residents who participated, and see what they learned.

In Paonia, Colorado, the weather rules the livelihoods and leisure of local ranchers, farmers and recreationists. But are climate shifts disrupting the region? Localore producer Julia Kumari Drapkin set out to explore that question in dialogue with both the community and scientists through her project, iSeeChange. The result? An interactive almanac that encourages users to record shifts in the weather, and pairs their field observations with long-range climate data and stories aired on incubator station KVNF. This week marks the soft launch of, which will go wide early next week at a launch party featuring NASA Goddard scientist Ben Cook.

In Boston, Planet Takeout producer Val Wang asked WGBH users to report back on their most telling Chinese restaurant experiences—see the Zeega-powered site to immerse yourself in the three restaurants she explored in depth. And in Dayton, award-winning filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar have pounded the pavement with station volunteers to uncover how locals are reinventing themselves in the recession-hit region.

Last week, their ReInvention Stories team launched a series of audio interviews that air on incubator station WYSO with corresponding video profiles. Watch the first, featuring founders of the Fifth Street Brewpub—a co-op pub that’s Ohio’s first and only the second in the nation. And stay tuned for the much-anticipated launch of the team’s immersive site.


Stay in the Loop
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More new media lifeforms are sure to emerge as Localore evolves throughout the spring. AIR and Zeega will continue to launch related sites, and to track the lessons that producers, stations and innovation partners have learned over their year of experimentation.

Keep an eye on to stay current on the latest developments, or subscribe to AIR’s weekly public media scan to get up to speed on these and other cutting-edge makers who are transforming public media and storytelling. Also keep your eye open for a joint SoundCloud-AIR promotion, happening soon!

Evan SoundCloud Voices – Hear the election

SoundCloud Voices is a weekly Community feature focusing on new spoken word creators found on SoundCloud. It might be a podcast, radio show, audio book, interview, audio messages, a poem, anything! Keep an eye out every Thursday for a new post.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the U.S. elections have taken up a large portion of our Twitter, Facebook, and SoundCloud feeds over the past few weeks. As we bid farewell to a raucous political season, we thought we’d highlight some of the great content that popped up on SoundCloud around election day.


First, the final speeches from the Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. One victory, one concession.


Steven Kastenbaum, a reporter for CNN, was at Romney’s headquarters as the results came in. He captured the scene as the mood turned from jovial to somber.


CNN’s Nova Safo captured a few moments of jubliation at President Obama’s HQ, moments after the final results were announced.


This week’s election wasn’t all presidential however. Many other positions and issues, from senate races to marijuana legalization, were voted on. Democracy Now produced a great summary of the broader election results.


If you’re inclined to see the lighter side of politics, check out Laughspin’s Dylan Gadino’s talk with Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key at Comedy Central’s official Indecision election night party.



Evan Voices: Covering the Elections by Leaving the U.S.

SoundCloud Voices is a weekly Community feature focusing on new spoken word creators found on SoundCloud. It might be a podcast, radio show, audio book, interview, audio messages, a poem, anything! Keep an eye out every Thursday for a new post.

This week we’ve invited the award-winning team from PRI’s The World to share their take on covering the U.S. Presidential elections, and how they hope to engage an international audience around a seemingly national issue. If you live outside the U.S., they want to hear your voice! Read on to find out more…


Does the American President Have a Responsibility for Your Future?

by Marco Werman, Host, PRI’s The World 

We’re a radio show. But these days we live online and on your mobile device just as much as we do on-air. At heart, just like the rest of the SoundCloud community, we’re obsessed with the sound of things: people and places, arguments and dreams. And we need your help. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

First, some scene-setting: As you know, Election Day in the United States is just around the corner. So, in the days surrounding the election, we’re taking PRI’s The World on the road to examine how American presidential influence is felt, understood, and imagined by people beyond U.S. borders. While most of the world’s media will be headed stateside, we’re going in the opposite direction.

Now, maybe you’re in the United States. But maybe you’re a SoundCloud community member in Caracas or Mumbai or somewhere else. And maybe you see your own fortunes in the choice of leadership Americans are about to make. Even if you don’t have a vote, my hunch is that you’re watching the US elections very closely.

So I’m headed to London to talk to as many people as I can. Why London? Well, it’s a gateway city for perspectives from across the planet. I’ll be talking to people about a wide range of concerns: the health of the global economy; terrorism and security; the Arab Spring; and the changing role of the United States in global affairs. And I’ll be asking the people I meet to think about what an American president can or should do in today’s world. Do they see the job of a US president (and not only the current president) as a protector or as a policeman? Or do some people have little faith in the ability of American presidents to lead the world on the really big stuff, such as climate change?

I’ll meet up with London-based authors and musicians, scholars and scientists, activists and professionals, many of them immigrants, each deeply interested in the U.S. election and its outcome. And I’m going to capture the city in sound too, in all its messy glory, posting the sounds to The World’s stream here on SoundCloud.

I’ll chat with European commuters as they step off the train from France; take the pulse of London’s much-maligned banking centers; and visit Speakers’ Corner, the historic epicenter of free speech in Britain. I’ll also spend time at New Broadcasting House in central London, talking with journalists from the BBC’s dozens of language services.

But I want to hear from you, too. I want to know how you see the US presidency–the whole institution of the American presidency as it relates to the world. I want you to think more deeply than just telling me who you’d prefer as the next president, Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. Instead, tell me what you think about the American presidency. How would you sum it up? How much is an American president responsible for things that go on in the world outside the United States of America?

To the point: why does the American president have a responsibility for your future, wherever you’re from? You might not have a vote, but I bet you wish you had a say.

Check out the big orange SoundCloud record button at and share your thoughts with us. Please keep it short, clean, and respectful. And, while you’re at it, follow The World on SoundCloud.

The world is watching this election. We’re listening to the world. And that includes you.

PRI’s The World is a daily one-hour radio program focused on international news and culture. Produced in Boston, it is a co-production of the BBC World Service, Public Radio International and WGBH, Boston. Follow The World on SoundCloud and at