Why I'm founding an audio production company
I fell in love with public radio as a farm kid in Iowa. We could just barely capture WVIK, Augustana Public Radio at home, and I listened to jazz, classical and All Things Considered after feeding the sheep, while blow-drying my enormous hair. When I was accepted at Augustana College I wrote WVIK asking for a job. They said yes, and for the next four years I worked as a reporter there.
Making and sharing stories has been at the heart of my work ever since. For three years, I was a freelance writer in Chicago, followed by fourteen years of writing, performing and recording my own songs. I've written a musical which morphed into a novel,* I have a bevy of essays and short stories stored in my computer (and my head), dozens of songs waiting to be recorded, and many more left to write. With music and without, in private moments and on stage, as a listener, reader, and creator, I'm drawn to story.
That's what attracted me to radio news back in college, and it's also what has prompted me to collect hundreds of hours of sound in the years since. In 1999, when I went to Cuba to write an article for a magazine, I filled multiple cassettes and longed for a portable a digital recorder. In 2005, when I met a thoughtful young veteran of the Iraq war, my first impulse was: "I want to record you." (He graciously agreed, and spent an afternoon in my living room, recounting his experiences.) In 2011, I recorded a minute of sound a day with no real goal in mind other than playing with the evocative power of audio. I've interviewed and recorded friends and family members, experimented with editing nature sounds into my music, and often wonder if I could turn an incident or encounter into a piece for This American Life.
This interest in radio and sound has been somewhat in the shadows while I've developed in other ways, but in the last year or so, I've been slowly increasing my focus on audio production. Now I'm ready to bring this element of myself out of the periphery.
I'm founding Auricle Productions because I want to make great radio. My first big endeavor will be Learning Their Place, but in the future, I may make radio shows exploring the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in the U.S., investigating the way human sounds affect animals in different habitats, documenting the daily life of people in one small town, or any number of other topics. I relish opportunities to explore the world as an observer, and I thrive on intimate conversations where people open up and share something real. To me, this is what compelling radio stories are made of; they're essentially artifacts of human connection. The radio shows I love take me to new places, teach me things without preaching at me, make me laugh and cry and gasp in surprise, and help me feel more connected. That's the kind of radio I want to make. I can't wait to get started!
But I'm also excited about audio projects that aren't intended for the airwaves. Through recording snippets of my own life for years, I've learned that audio can evoke a person or a time in a way that no picture or video can. Now I can extend this service to other people. I want to help families and individuals document conversations, family lore and other special moments in their lives, which they can then play on their iPods, send around via e-mail, and archive for future generations to hear. Read more about this here.
The third leg of the Auricle Productions stool will be to serve businesses and organizations. So many people are doing good, important work in the world, and I would relish the opportunity to help organizations I believe in share their activities more widely through creative, well-crafted audio pieces. Click here to learn more.
One of the things that delights me most about Auricle Productions is that I'll be using modern technologies to do something humans have done for millennia -- gather close and listen to each other's voices. Whether the format is a radio special, an audio time capsule for future members of our clan, or an urgent message about a present day issue, story is how we make sense of the world, and how we connect to each other. Thank you to the many people who are helping me write my own story (literally and figuratively), and thank you for taking the time to read this and explore the website. I hope you'll share your ideas and questions by leaving comments here on the blog. Your input will help make Auricle Productions successful.
Oh, and about the name: it means "an earlobe-shaped part" and it's a homonym with "oracle" -- those people in ancient Greece who were always giving messages that left people scratching their heads. Whatever Auricle Productions makes for your earlobe-shaped parts, I hope it's never too simple or black-and-white, because the best stories are the ones that surprise us, crack us open, and inspire us to do our own thinking.
-- Amy Martin, July 2014
* I'm still working on the novel, too.