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Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas

The Power of Digital Audio Storytelling: From Podcasts to Voice Assistants

Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas and The University of Texas at Austin via Independent


During this four-week course, you'll gain an understanding of why one of the oldest storytelling forms is having a renaissance thanks to technological changes. We'll explore the fundamentals of great audio storytelling, podcasting, voice assistants, how to get audio to your audiences, and more.


Introduction Module: Course description

In the introductory module, you will get an overview of the course structure and meet the instructor.

Module 1: Why audio, why now?

We look at the reasons audio storytelling has been able to endure.

This module will cover:

  • Why audio
  • The enduring power of audio
  • Technology shifts and new opportunities
  • A lean back medium adapts to a lean forward world
  • A conversation about how audio storytelling has persisted with Julie Shapiro, Executive Producer Radiotopia from PRX

Module 2: Fundamentals of great audio storytelling is the key to the future

We break down the fundamentals of great storytelling - fundamentals that endure regardless of the technological platform.

This module will cover:

  • Emotion and the heart of audio storytelling
  • Writing for the ear
  • Audience of 1
  • Sound design practitioner interview with Ramtin Arablouei, co-producer and co-host, Throughline
  • Making the transition from print to audio with practitioner interview Hannah Allam, correspondent, NPR

Module 3: The podcasting (r)evolution

Podcasting has changed the game in how audio is produced, consumed, & thought of.

This module will cover:

  • How podcasting injected new life into audio
  • From basements to big business with guest interview with Nick Quah founder of the podcasting newsletter Hot Pod
  • From quirky guys in a garage to daily news. Guest interview with Samantha Henig, formerly New York Times now Buzzfeed News

Module 4: Big tech embraces the oldest communication form

Technology has opened up the opportunities for audio storytelling.

This module will cover:

  • How audio is encountered on listening platforms from linear to on demand and algorithms in between
  • Voice assistants and interactive audio storytelling practitioner interview with Nicky Birch, Commissioning Exec BBC Voice + AI
  • Voice platform adoption internationally, interview with Ezra Eeman from European Broadcasters Union
  • Your platform or mine? How will you get your audio to audiences

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