This page is dedicated to a curated collection of acoustic radio features produced by widely acknowledged, modern radio greats. They were early explorers of a form that relied on sound to tell much of the story . Starting in the 1960s in Europe and the 1970s in America, pioneering producer-storytellers began to explore the inherent attributes of radio as a means of conveying stories. Rather than radio’s legacy format and television’s dreary “talking head” structure, sound was, at last, ascendant. The old-style pedantic narrator followed by an interview clip, repeated over and over was under assault. As technology developed that allowed the recording and transmission of excellent high-definition sound, true audio storytelling was born. Leading the way in Europe was Peter Leonhart Braun, working at Sender Freies Berlin, a German powerhouse of radio production. In 1974, he and a small handful of his contemporaries began hosting an “International Feature Conference”, an exclusive gathering of some of the best producers in the world. They listened to each other’s work and explored the future of radio “features”. They were the pioneers of a radio sea-change–a revival of radio–in America and around the world…
Many of these high-quality recordings are difficult or impossible to find elsewhere…
The Bells of Europe
This magnificent sound portrait is considered by many to be the first beacons of modern acoustic storytelling. Produced by Peter Leonhart Braun in 1973 this magnificent homage to sound has inspired two generations of producers and became emblematic of new radio. This is the Canadian (CBC) version, produced in the English language.
Glocken En Europa
For those of you fortunate enough to speak German, this is the “Bells in Europe” version heard by German audiences….it is the original mix at its full, original length. By the way, this is wonderful even if you do not speak German…and, if you like, you can read along by downloading the English language script! Just click the button below.
The Man With The White Cane
Produced by Pioneer Josh Darsa at National Public Radio, this 9:39 minute piece is held as a public radio classic by many. Although its use of sound is not elaborate, good writing, editing and measured use of sound create an extraordinary story with a single interview. Darsa was known for his Murrow-like narrative style and at the time he was both a friend to and advocate of Peter Leonhart Braun’s acoustic style. Soon after this, he produced “Cowboy”, another acoustic hallmark.
This is another extraordinary radio feature often hailed as a modern radio landmark, produced by Josh Darsa. in 1980. A radio veteran who was originally a news correspondent for CBS, Darsa moved to NPR where he became an early advocate of the sound feature. He introduced me to Peter Braun for which I am eternally grateful, both of us were among his eager students.
Journey To The Edge of the Amazon
A sound-enhanced story produced by the late Carolyn Jensen Chadwick and narrated by her husband Alex, of National Public Radio. One of the short-form “Radio Expeditions” series co-sponsored by the National Geographic Society and heard on NPR’s “Morning Edition”. Carolyn was an early champion of acoustic storytelling; Her field recordings and programming led the way for the use of sound in radio.
The Geography of Heaven
This 24-minute piece, “The Geography of Heaven” produced by Carolyn Jensen, exhibits more of Carolyn’s exceptional field recordings and how journalism, storytelling and sound can come together. Narrated by her husband Alex Chadwick, the sounds transport listeners to the spiritual city of Vrindavan, India. Listeners are placed in the scene, rather than detached observers watching video. Originally broadcast in December of 2009.