Listen: Short Audio Docs from the 2017 Hearing Is Believing Audio Institute

2017 Hearing Is Believing

Students and faculty from the summer 2017 CDS introductory audio institute, Hearing Is Believing.

In July 2017, the fourteenth annual Hearing Is Believing audio institute took place at the Center for Documentary Studies. In this weeklong, intensive bootcamp, run by CDS Continuing Education, students learned the basics of creating short audio documentaries. They chose from a list of interview subjects who’d been contacted in advance (thanks to the work of CDS intern Autavius Smith), then, after a crash-course in recording techniques, they conducted a sit-down interview. The next four days were spent in the computer lab, as students edited their interviews down to the finished five-minute pieces seen below.

The institute was led by CDS Audio Program director John Biewen, along with visiting instructor Audrey Quinn, a journalist and podcaster based in Brooklyn. Guest instructor Kaitlin Prest, who creates the Radiotopia podcast The Heart, inspired the students with a talk and a performance, and CDS Continuing Education Coordinator Marc Maximov taught the basics of the Hindenburg audio editing package.

Capital L in Conversation | Luke Hirst and Xaris Martínez
23-year-old composer Joaquin Javier Lopez produces beats and music samples on his laptop, and mixes them together to create an intimate musical conversation. Producers Xaris Martínez and Luke Hirst interviewed Lopez, also known as Capital L, in his bedroom studio, and created their own digital mixtape of the encounter.

Finding the Sound of Magic | Jim Haverkamp and David Smart
Josh Zaslow has worked as a pastry baker for ten years, but has played guitar far longer. Since high school, Josh has played in bands and composed his own music, but hasn’t really taken his musical ambitions seriously—until now.

Learning to Fly | Koji Yahagi and Elizabeth Zwerling
In the 1960s, Warren Wheeler was one of the first African-American pilots to work for a major commercial airline. He was also the first African-American to run his own airline. Today, at 73, he is working to inspire a new generation of pilots who face comparable obstacles to getting in the cockpit door. It’s an industry where some things haven’t changed in the past 50 years.

Wheeler started Airolina in 2015. It’s a flight training program, complete with flight simulator, based in his small basement office at the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham. He put the word out to local high school students that kids as young as 14 could enroll in the program for free.

Lolethia Unplugged | David Balzer and Kate Skorpen-Claeson
We all know that jazz musicians are known for their improvisation. Local jazz DJ Lolethia Underdue quickly abandoned the clarinet in high school after discovering she had no rhythm and was apparently tone deaf. But she loves music, and her ability to improvise is why you can hear her every weekday afternoon on Durham’s WNCU. That’s where she spins jazz tracks and delivers the weather. Ad-libbing and tenacity are elements of a work ethic she tries to instill in her broadcast students at a local university. On a recent steamy Monday afternoon in Durham, Lolethia invited us into her live studio and spun the tracks of improvisation that underscore her life.

Paula! Play! | Carlyle Ellis and Seth Martin
Last year, the White Rock Baptist Church in Durham celebrated its 150th anniversary. As a new generation plans the future of the church, an older generation worries about what is being forgotten. Producers Carlyle Ellis and Seth Martin spoke with Dr. Paula Harrell, White Rock’s well-known organist, who uses her tremendous talent to help her congregation remember.

Tone Touch | Ali Gladstone and Joan Toohey Wesman
Durham hip-hop artist Antonio Cowart is known professionally as Tone Touch. He’s a Christian rapper, but he wants his music to be for everyone, no matter their beliefs. He recently received a nomination for the Carolina Music Awards, and this summer he was a featured artist on Choice FM in Raleigh.

What Keeps Me Going | Rene Barger and Hannah Taleb
Bradley Simmons lectures on West African and Afro-Cuban music at Duke University. He spoke with producers Rene Barger and Hannah Taleb about his life as an academic, folklorist, and professional conga player.

Without a Song | Ami Hudson and Maryanne Shanahan
If people don’t know the same songs, they can’t easily sing together. Durham jazz vocalist and composer Lois Deloatch believes it’s important to have music and song in common.

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