Links and Tips for Interviewing, Recording Audio and Making Audio Documentaries

Audio Recording on Your Phone
You can get surprisingly decent audio by recording on your cellphone AS LONG AS YOU HOLD THE INTERVIEW IN A QUIET PLACE! 🙂 Whatever app you use, be sure to TEST IT OUT for a long period of time to make sure the app won’t stop recording after a few minutes. And then do a test of how to either e-mail the audio file or transfer the audio file to a computer—sometimes the app will not let you e-mail file sizes for interviews that are over a few minutes long. When researching apps, look for apps that will easily let you upload to the cloud right from your phone.
• If you are an I-phone and Mac user, then my former students have found the following apps pretty easy to use and fairly easy to transfer the audio file by downloading it into I-tunes and then either e-mailing it as an attachment or uploading it to Google Docs: Voice Memo (comes with I-phone) or Voice Recorder. Some students have liked I-talk but only if you have a Mac.
• If you are an Android user, then my former students have found the following apps pretty easy to use and fairly easy to transfer the audio file by uploading it into Google Docs: Voice Recorder and Miidio Recorder.
Interviewing Tips
1. Questions that ask for concrete descriptions or stories will provide better data than questions that ask for generalizations. I often start with questions like “Tell me the story of how you ….” Or how about “Can you paint a picture for me of how…” or “Walk me through what happened when…”
2. You will want to follow-up your initial questions with probes. Some examples of probing questions are:
Could you tell me a little more about….
When you said …., what did you mean by that?
Can you describe a specific instance where you ….?
What did you think/feel about ….?
3. LISTEN to what your respondent tells you. This is the most important interviewing skill. This means, to a certain extent, following what your respondent wants to talk about and asking follow-up questions to comments s/he has made. Listening will help you think of good follow-up questions to get further detail and a better understanding of what s/he has told you. You will get a better interview if you listen and follow-up on what your respondent has said than if you stick to the script of your questions.
4. Try to make smooth transitions between topics. Listening well will help you with this because respondents often will give you answers that will allow you to bring up new topics in response. If you feel the need to jump topics, warn your respondent.
5. It is often helpful at the end of an interview to ask the respondent if there is anything they would like to add. Sometimes we get the most interesting stories of the interview when we ask this. Make sure you don’t turn off the recorder until you are walking away from the interview.
6. Thank your respondent for taking the time to speak with you. This is important both because the respondent has offered you a real gift of her/his time and honesty and also because you don’t want to give researchers a bad name.
7. Immediately after the interview is over, jot down notes on your reaction to it and anything you might have missed during the interview while your memory is still fresh.
8. See also Transom.org for other interviewing tips:
http://transom.org/2013/chris-lydons-letterman-list-of-interviewing-tips/
http://transom.org/2010/on-interviewing/

To Move from Uncut Audio to Audio Stories

Transom—best overall resource for both technical and storytelling aspects of audio
http://transom.org/

Audacity–Free open source audio editing software for Mac or PC
http://sourceforge.net/projects/audacity/

Audacity FFmpeg Plug-in and LAME mp3 Encoder—to be able to work with .m4a, .mp3 and other common audio file types
http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/faq_installation_and_plug_ins.html#ffdown

Audacity Wiki Home page—for help and tutorials
http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Audacity_Wiki_Home_Page

Audacity for Teachers—Installation and Basic Editing
http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Audacity_for_Teachers_-_Installation_and_Basic_Editing

Audacity–Youtube Overall Beginning Basics

Audacity Youtube Channels with Short Tutorials
https://www.youtube.com/user/FreeAudacityTutorial
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChDay1MZzkP-X3cgITy9GCA

Transom—digital editing basics
http://transom.org/2001/digital-editing-basics/

Transom—on why narration is essential in audio documentaries
http://transom.org/2011/on-narration/

Transom—audio storytelling
http://transom.org/2011/feature-as-a-journey-to-the-unknown/

Transom—on editing for story
http://transom.org/2013/edit-send-it-to-the-basement/

Dig CCMixter—for Creative Commons licensed music
http://dig.ccmixter.org/

Archive.org—for media in the public domain
https://archive.org/

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