We’ve Morphed!



We’ve morphed!

Saltcast is now HowSound.

Same content, same host, same backstory to great radio storytelling…. only the name has changed. Just as good, perhaps even better. But you need to subscribe to know for sure!

Please, click on over to HowSound.org or log onto iTunes and subscribe.

The Saltcast blog posts and free streams of the Saltcast podcast are all here and will remain here for some time. But there are no more fresh episodes.

So, see ya at HowSound.





The Last Saltcast, BUT….


Okay. First and foremost. Do. Not. Panic.

Yes, this is the last Saltcast, BUT….

Saltcast is now HowSound.


The Pigeon Race

Jeff Letellier demonstrates how to hold a pigeon. (Photo by Nicolas Tanner, courtesy the Salt Archive.)

We talk everyday. But, step in front of a microphone, and everything goes to heck in a handbasket. We forget how to talk and, instead, launch into “reading voice.” What’s the secret to avoiding “reading voice”?

Rachel James has some answers. Last spring, Rachel was a student in the radio program at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. She’s a natural. Put her in front of a mic and ‘poof,’ no “reading voice.”

On this Saltcast, we’ll hear examples of Rachel’s work — her first ever, by the way — and she’ll reveal a couple of her secrets to a natural sounding read. You may want to t take notes!

Best, Rob


Travels With Mike: In Search of America 50 Years After Steinbeck

Producer John Biewen interrogates John Steinbeck. (Photo by Diana Garcia)

I seriously suffer from wanderlust. Summer comes and I want nothing more than to shunpike — make my way cross-country taking back roads. Can’t do that this summer, sadly. But, fortunately, I have John Biewen’s latest documentary to satisfy some of my road trip ya-yas.

In 1960, John Steinbeck made his way coast to coast along with his dog, Charley. Their trip was immortalized in the book Travels With Charley: In Search for America. Fifty years later, John Biewen traced Steinbeck’s journey — with his microphone. John’s story is immortalized in “Travels With Mike: In Search of America 50 Years After Steinbeck” and presented on this edition of the Saltcast.

By the way, I’m huge fan of books about cross-country sojourns. Here are links to a few.

Blue Highways, William Least Heat-Moon

River Horse, William Least Heat-Moon

Road Scholar, Andre Codrescu

Miles from Nowhere, Dayton Duncan

Out West: American Journey Along the Lewis and Clark Trail, Dayton Duncan

Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the America West, Stephan Ambrose

The Air Conditioned Nightmare, Henry Miller

Also, for more about John Biewen’s journey, check out his “Travels With Mike” website.

Okay. There. That should keep you busy!

Best, Rob

Radio Workshop?

So, let’s say you’ve been bitten by the radio bug.

Now, you wanna actually make some radio. What to do?

Well, here’s a couple of options.

This summer, The Center for Documentary Studies is offering several week-long radio production courses. I’ll be teaching at one in August along with the Center’s John Biewen and producer Katie Davis. It’s called Hearing is Believing II: Making It Sing.

And, a new training workshop is in the works in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The good folks at Transom.org are considering a seven-week workshop this fall — a pilot for what Transom hopes will be many, many more. I’ll be teaching there along with the Transom crew. Right now, we’re still in the planning stages. If this sounds interesting, please take a moment to fill out our survey.

C’mon. You know you wanna do it! Come make radio!!

Cheers, Rob


Baumgartner’s Got Nothin’ On Charrette*

The English Channel

On this Saltcast, further evidence of the infiltration of Radiolab into the ears of new radio producers.

Matt Kielty interviewed the guts out of Pat Charrette, a 60-year-old woman who attempted an English Channel swim in 2008. Pat was a great talker and Matt thought assembling the story would be a cinch — until he listened to the tape. That’s when he realized he needed more than just good interview tape to tell the story. He needed sound. But there wasn’t any. No one recorded Pat’s swim. So, Matt did the next best thing. He “designed” sound.

Happy listening!


PS – On a completely unrelated note, be sure to listen to Reality Radio: Telling True Stories in Sound, the radio program based on the book of the same title.


*It’s quite possible the Salt story featured on this Saltcast could win an award for “Most Obscure Title.” ‘Baumgartner’ is a reference to Felix Baumgartner, an Austrian skydiver. In 2003, Baumgartner became the first person to skydive across the English Channel. ‘Charrette’ is a reference to 60-year-old Pat Charrette from Westbrook, Maine who swam the English Channel in 2008.


The Mascot

Amy O’Leary wowing radio students with a four-hour, non-stop, mind dump of storytelling genius.


It all started with a vox pop about cheeseburger fries when she was a student at Salt in 2003. Now, Amy O’Leary is a Deputy Editor at the New York Times working on multi-media stories.

Amy visited Salt this semester and let her mind all-hang-out — narrative, voicing, multi-media storytelling, tips for transcribing — she covered it all.

Amy also spent an hour with me for the Saltcast, taking a knife to a story she produced at Salt. Lots of storytelling nuggets to be had. Have a listen top an epic edition of the Saltcast.

Best, Rob


PS – PRX innovated — again. This time it’s all about sharing. Check out PRX’s new way to embed files, share them, and God knows what else! Hop on over to PRX to find out.



They Emerge in the Dark



Salt Radio has been invaded. Sonically.

The welcome interloper? Radiolab.

Some ten years ago, students arrived at Salt heavily influenced by Ira Glass and Dave Isay. While Ira and Dave continue to inspire, Radiolab’s producers and hosts, Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad, have now wormed their way into the hearts and ears of students. (By wormed, i’m thinking of earworm, fyi.) Inspired by the ear-tingling production values of the program, students are now experimenting with sound design as a tool for storytelling.

Last semester, Lucas Willard listened to his inner-Radiolab and took a stab at creating a Radiolab-esque opening for his story on bed bugs. It’s called “They Emerge At Night” and it’s the feature on this edition of the Saltcast.

All the best,



Endless Winter

Paul Schipper, “The Iron Man of Skiing.” Photo by Katherine Gnecco, courtesy of the Salt Archive.

You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting Greg Warner on the radio these days. The dude is everywhere.

Just in the last few months, Greg produced a story for Radiolab, had a piece featured on Re:sound, and he assembled a series on health care in Russia for Marketplace. In fact, that’s where Greg works. He’s the Health Desk Reporter for Marketplace and files stories just about daily.

Well, Greg got his start in radio at Salt. I’ve blown off the dust from his stellar, 2003 story “Endless Winter” for today’s Saltcast. Happy listening!



Thank You iTunes!