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SaltCast: the Backstory to Great Radio Storytelling

Series produced by Salt Institute for Documentary Studies

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The SaltCast was a bi-weekly podcast produced from 2008-2010, aimed at pulling back the curtain on radio storytelling. From fieldwork and recording techniques to narrative and ethics, Saltcast explored the ins-and-outs of radio production.

If you want to hear more Salt radio work, including that produced by more recent students, check out http://www.prx.org/group_accounts/1185-salt !

The SaltCast was produced by Rob Rosenthal for the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine (salt.edu) and the Public Radio Exchange (prx.org).

The podcasts are available as free MP3 streams and downloads at www.saltcast.org, iTunes, other podcast directories, and here at PRX.


59 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
Caption: Katie West smiles to change the world. , Credit: Avery Moore
At Salt we say "Music is emotional fascism." It's a bit tongue-in-cheek. But, the idea is that you want to be VERY careful when you choose to use m...

Bought by WOUB, Radio Newark, KUT, WMPG, and PRX Remix


  • Added: Sep 20, 2010
  • Length: 13:11
  • Purchases: 5
Caption: President Franklin Roosevelt examines a model of the proposed Quoddy Dam, Eastport, Maine in 1935. The project barely got off the ground before it failed miserably., Credit: National Archive.
Sometimes the first step is the hardest. Same with starting a story.

Bought by Radio Newark, KUT, WMPG, and PRX Remix


  • Added: Sep 20, 2010
  • Length: 17:14
  • Purchases: 4
Caption: Guglielmo Marconi, inventor and early radio technology pioneer. , Credit: Dibner Library for the History of Science and Technology
Artist and writer Dennis Downey's essay on Marconi, an early radio pioneer, and talking on the radio.

Bought by WOUB, Radio Newark, Moab Public Radio, and PRX Remix


  • Added: Jul 26, 2010
  • Length: 07:31
  • Purchases: 4

  • Added: Jul 12, 2010
  • Length: 12:25
  • Purchases: 2

  • Added: Jul 05, 2010
  • Length: 14:35
  • Purchases: 4
Caption: The Guerette family of Pittston, Maine two years after attackers broke into their home with machetes. , Credit: Sarah Craig
"Left for Dead" is probably the most gruesome story reported by a Salt student. It's not for the faint of heart.

Bought by Radio Newark, KUT, and PRX Remix


  • Added: Jul 05, 2010
  • Length: 17:50
  • Purchases: 3
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Diane Richard and her husband Todd Melby sure know how to pick a project with a long uphill road to the finish line. On this Saltcast, we talk with...

Bought by Radio Newark and PRX Remix


  • Added: Jul 05, 2010
  • Length: 27:24
  • Purchases: 2
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You didn’t hear this from me, but sometimes the best approach to working on a story is to not have much of a plan.

Bought by WOUB, Radio Newark, WMPG, KUOW, and PRX Remix


  • Added: Jun 23, 2010
  • Length: 14:03
  • Purchases: 5
Caption: Nathan Dyer focuses hard — really hard — on the chandelier., Credit: Morrigan McCarthy
Ninety-nine percent of the time, using the pronoun “I” in a story is a journalistic no-no. But sometimes, it's a useful storytelling tool.

Bought by Radio Newark, KUT, and PRX Remix


  • Added: Jun 23, 2010
  • Length: 11:47
  • Purchases: 3
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“Ghetto Life 101" is a high-water mark for radio documentary and the story featured on this edition of the Saltcast — our fiftieth!!

Bought by WUTC, KOSU, Radio Newark, KUT, WORLDcompass.org and more


  • Added: Jun 23, 2010
  • Length: 38:07
  • Purchases: 6
Caption: Jerry Blackburn, “The Junk King” of the Downeast region of Maine. , Credit: Alexandra Marvar, courtesy of the Salt archive
On this edition of the Saltcast, I chat with Salt alum Josh Gleason about framing a story and listen to his feature "The Junk King."

Bought by Radio Newark and PRX Remix


  • Added: Jun 21, 2010
  • Length: 15:04
  • Purchases: 2
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There are lots of different ways to start a story. Maybe the most common is what I call “Here’s-how-things-are (or were)-here’s-how-they're-differe...

Bought by Radio Newark and PRX Remix


  • Added: Jun 21, 2010
  • Length: 09:50
  • Purchases: 2
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Thought the limerick was a dead artform? A remnant of “ye olde days” that little kids still find humorous? Think again. Molly Haley brings us the ...

Bought by Radio Newark


  • Added: Jun 21, 2010
  • Length: 09:10
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Icebergs ho! The bow of my kayak near Hay Cove, far northern Newfoundland.
The focus of this Saltcast is tension and narrative arc. I dissect an audio postcard of my own, called “Nothing Predictable,” and describe the arc ...

Bought by Radio Newark, KUT, and PRX Remix


  • Added: Jun 21, 2010
  • Length: 09:02
  • Purchases: 3
Caption: Meatball sub, anyone?, Credit: Catherine Lovell courtesy of the Salt archive
No matter which way producer Audrey Dilling turned in the cafeteria kitchen at Biddeford High School, she was awash in sound, sound, and more sound...

Bought by Radio Newark, WMPG, and PRX Remix


  • Added: Jun 21, 2010
  • Length: 10:11
  • Purchases: 3
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On this Saltcast we feature John’s story “Racial Cleansing In America.” It’s about the expulsion of blacks from Corbin, Kentucky by the town’s whit...

Bought by Radio Newark and PRX Remix


  • Added: Jun 16, 2010
  • Length: 17:18
  • Purchases: 2
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After sustaining a brain injury in a car accident, Carole Starr was diagnosed with hyperacusis, a severe sensitivity to sound. This would be trauma...

Bought by Radio Newark and PRX Remix


  • Added: Jun 16, 2010
  • Length: 10:00
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Rob holds his head in his hands, tears from laughing so hard. , Credit: Adriana Teresa
This fall, the radio students produced a parody of the Saltcast. It’s a riot. And, it’s today’s feature. I admit, it’s a bit of an insider piece bu...

Bought by Radio Newark


  • Added: Jun 16, 2010
  • Length: 08:23
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Make way for Tom Witkowski, the dean of delivery at Pizza Time, Portland, Maine. , Credit: Rebeca Beeman
Mark Kramer, founder of the Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism, says if a story doesn't have an obvious narrative hook, it needs a strong ch...

Bought by Radio Newark and PRX Remix


  • Added: Jun 16, 2010
  • Length: 08:53
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Hillary Hebert takes a break after talking about motherhood and bi-polar disorder. , Credit: Keith Lane
We don’t teach “sound art” at Salt, but we do wonder from time-to-time how a feature might benefit from using sound art to tell a story. In particu...

Bought by Radio Newark and PRX Remix


  • Added: Jun 16, 2010
  • Length: 11:41
  • Purchases: 2