Allison loves the intimacy of radio and podcasts to bring a story and song right into our car, kitchen, or ear buds. There’s something great about a live telling in Brooklyn finding its way to Albuquerque, New Mexico via podcast, like her “Maternal Instinct” story for the science-themed storytelling event and podcast Story Collider included below. But, it is a completely different art form to craft a story for radio. We can help to create a textured setting by using the magic of technology to layer voices and sound and devise a story structure that captures the listeners attention in much the same way a playwright crafts a play. Allison’s new cultural radio project, “The Living Room” does just that.
The Living Room is a radio series airing on Michigan Radio (Michigan’s leading NPR affiliate) that explores the cultural fabric of Michigan through story, song and writing. Allison developed and co-produces the show with independent media producer, Zak Rosen. She serves as the host and primary storyteller and musician. The one-hour pilot earned the Michigan Association of Broadcasters award for Broadcasting Excellence in cultural programming. Currently Michigan Radio is airing monthly Living Room mini-episodes (10 min.) during it’s daily news talk show, Stateside with Cynthia Canty.
The Living Room pilot is a 1-hour episode that aired Fall, 2012 and explores the theme of “Migration.” In the first segment Allison tells the story of how she ended up in Michigan and closes with a new original song “In Michigan (Begin Again)” recorded with great musicians, including Annie & Rod Capps, Chuck Mauk, John Austin, Stephen Mullan, and Sue Gillis. The next segment features an historical story about a free African-American family’s journey (by foot!) from North Carolina to Covert, Michigan in the 1840’s as told by one of their descendants, Ted Anderson and historian Anna-Lisa Cox. The final segment includes a poem by Zilka Joseph about an Indian immigrant’s perspective, and songs from Joshua Davis (from the band, Steppin’ in It) about Michigan.
LISTEN HERE: The Living Room 1hr Pilot Episode: Stories of Migration
(Aired October 27th and November 22, 2013). Please let us know what you think! Post comments!
The Living Room mini-episodes:
If you listen, please let us know what you think: POST COMMENTS
Jackson Prison: Stories from the Inside: (Aired December 19th, 2013) Earlier in the fall I joined the Jackson Historic Prison tours and stepped inside 7 block, a closed, but fully intact cell block on the Jackson Prison grounds. There I met a series of speakers who were former employees and inmates at Jackson Prison. I was so struck by the power of their stories that I later went to interview them in their homes or offices to get a more in depth picture of life inside Jackson Prison.
Back to School: (Aired Sept. 5th, 2013) The piece begins with a collage of voices from interviews I conducted with Kalamazoo pre-school and elementary school students the last week of classes this past June. The rest of the episode features a powerful story by Living Room producer Zak Rosen about The James and Grace Lee Boggs School opening in Detroit for the 2013-14 school year. Imagine an uplifting story about the good things going on in Detroit!
Baring It All on Summer Vacation: (Aired August 29th, 2013) This episode features a whimsical end of summer story by my friend, Michigan storyteller and artist, Karen Czarnik. Karen recounts a memorable road trip she took with her kids to Northern Michigan where they invoked the family tradition of swimming in every new body of water.
Running Away with the Carnival: (Aired July 24th, 2013) The sincere, strange and sometimes sad stories of carnival workers. Co-produced with Zak Rosen.
Prom Season: First Dance. This episode celebrates Prom season with my story about a first high school dance gone wrong, and my song “All That Matters” about a middle school dance. And it’s a tribute to the 80s. (Aired May 16, 2013)
Fishing on the Detroit River. There are those for whom fishing is not only a family tradition, but a creative act: Michigan-based writer and fisherman, Pete Markus is in that category.Producer Zak Rosen spent time fishing and talking with Markus on the Detroit River. (Aired April 11, 2013)
A St. Patrick’s Day story from Irish-American Storyteller, Yvonne Healy. The story of an Irish woman’s journey to becoming American and finally reclaiming her Irish in Michigan. (Aired March 14, 2013)
Valentine’s Podcast: “The Perfect Man” (Aired February 14, 2013) Stories of love at first sight and unrequited love in improvised scenes and my own true personal tale set in glorious Spain.
The Inauguration Commentary: “A Remarkably Normal Presidential Inauguration” (Aired January 17, 2013). Here’s my first commentary piece for radio comparing the historic 2009 Presidential Inauguration to the remarkably normal (i.e. boring) 2013 second term Presidential Inauguration. If you listen, let us know what you think: POST COMMENTS (please?)
Story Collider: Allison shared her story, “Maternal Instinct” at the science-themed storytelling event Story Collider in both Ann Arbor, Michigan (July, 2011) and Brooklyn, New York (August, 2011). It’s a story about child-rearing and the age old nature/nurture debate, i.e. material instinct vs. cruel, heartless science.