2 TOW: Audio Interview

TOW Assignment: Audio Interviews

  1. Same assignment, different medium: Using an audio recorder and microphone ask five strangers, “What are you afraid of?” Ask follow-up questions. Try to get a story with a beginning, middle, and end.
  2. Take the person’s photo.
  3. Choose the most interesting interview and edit the audio down to less than two minutes in length with a beginning, middle, and end.
  4. Post the photo with a caption and the audio in our TOW Group (at Facebook).
  5. Listen and discuss other group members’ pieces. Ask questions (when can’t find answers thru your own research); answer questions when you can (post helpful links too).
  6. Think hard about the comments on your work. Some of the responses will be valuable (some may not — learn to build and trust your instincts about how to make your work better).

Examples: Work by TOW 0.2 learners:

Also: “Walking Across America: Advice for a Young Man” (by Andrew Forsthoefel) and “About Hunger & Resilience” (by Michael Nye).



Learn to switch media and experiment with story structure.

Mentor Notes

This second assignment is to do basically the same thing as the first, only with an audio recorder, and then take a photo. A smartphone can be used for both.

Some of you already know how to use audio recorders and audio production software, but for those who are new to the medium there’s a couple of things you need to learn, pretty quickly.

The first thing is you’re going need to learn how to make a good sound recording. So for sure you’ll need to find some headphones and plug them and wear them from now on when you are using your recorder. This is the best way to learn how microphones hear things. It’s different than how we hear things and you need to experience it. I’ve written a short essay on this and I will post it in the resources.

Then you’ll need to download and learn to use a software program for editing and production. Audacity is free. Hindenburg has a free trial. I’ll post tutorials in the resources as well.

So go out and interview five people, preferably strangers, and ask them what they are afraid of. Then choose the best, most interesting interview and edit it down to less than 90 seconds, concentrating on finding a beginning, then an ending, and then cutting the middle down to time. I will write more about this process later, and there’s a good essay on editing by Larry Massett here at Transom.

The main thing I’d like you to focus on for now is finding interesting people to talk to. It’s not easy. It’s like fishing. Usually you got to throw your line in the water a bunch of times before you get something good. And then it’s not easy to learn how to draw people out, get them to basically spill their guts with a microphone in front of them.

I hope you’re all having fun learning new things. I bet it’s tough to figure it all out for the first time. Just try to go through all the steps and get something posted.

— Scott Carrier, Mentor, TOW Basics: Multimedia Storytelling