"Radio has suffered corporate deadening just like other 'traditional' media, yet it retains an edge thanks to public, community, and college stations and the popularity of radio documentaries. Biewen, audio program director for Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies, offers a lively history of creative documentary radio in his introduction to 19 passionate, instructive, and unexpectedly moving essays by innovative audio journalists and artists who 'use sound to tell true stories artfully.' Such artists include the Kitchen Sisters, who write about their 'deep need to bear witness and try to heal the culture through stories and revelations,' and Ira Glass, who generously reveals just how much patience, effort, and luck are involved in creating This American Life. Jad Abumrad's description of his work with Robert Krulwich on the wacky Radio Lab series is matched by provocative accounts of radio diaries and bold audio performance art and Katie Davis' beautiful essay about her collaborations with Washington, D.C., teens in Neighborhood Stories and the practice of 'deeper listening.' Invaluable and many-faceted coverage of a thriving, populist, and mind-expanding art form."—Donna Seaman, Booklist

“A powerful and illuminating anthology about our most powerful and intimate medium. Reality Radio is a must-read for anyone who feels called to make documentary work or whose imagination and heart are stirred by the sounds of nonfiction storytelling on the radio. A wonderful book!”—Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps and Sound Portraits Productions

"Reality Radio is a fabulous book I wish I could have read when I started at NPR in 1974. It would have shaved 10–15 years off the learning curve in discovering how to make great radio."—Bob Edwards, host of The Bob Edwards Show on Sirius XM Radio

“The producers who wrote these essays prove that there’s nothing more moving than real, truthful radio. I read a lot of the book in bed and soon heard the voices whispering in my ear: ‘Get up. Go record something. Now.’ You will feel the same.”—Neenah Ellis, independent radio producer and author of If I Live to Be 100: Lessons from the Centenarians

Reality Radio is a collection of masterful essays by radio’s best producers; I feel as though I’ve had a personal, one-on-one conversation with many of the medium’s contemporary heroes. This book will stoke the ‘radio fire’ in the bellies of its readers.”—Rob Rosenthal, independent radio producer and director of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies radio program

“The essays in this book were written by people thinking with their ears.”—Rick Moody, from the foreword

"True or false: the difference between reality television and reality radio is that the latter tells "true stories." The contributors to this book do not claim that specific point, but the title begs the comparison. Biewen and Dilworth (both, Center for Documentary Studies, Duke Univ.) collected essays by journalists, documentarians, and artists who have chosen radio as a primary medium for reporting audio that takes one inside a topic rather than offering 15-second sound bites. The names of the contributors will be most familiar to the public-radio listener, but their work has infiltrated a variety of old and new media, demonstrating its relevance. What is striking about this collection is how clearly the reader can "hear" the diverse voices and stories, despite the print medium. Biewen comments on the difficulty of "coaxing [the contributors] to articulate on the page what they do with sound." But the book succeeds admirably. It is a remarkable collection that reveals the process, creativity, and purpose behind stories designed to help listeners "feel something." It also provides lessons in journalistic decision-making, editing, and attention to detail --- how to keep listeners listening, and affect their understanding of the topics treated. A wonderful and accessible read. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; technical students; general readers.—F. Tavares, Southern Connecticut State University, Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries



Saturday, November 12, 2011, 8 p.m.
Harrisburg (Pa.) Book Festival
John Biewen with contributor Joe Richman
Midtown Scholar Bookstore
1302 North Third Street
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Listen to audio from the presentation

Thursday, August 4, 2011
All Sides with Ann Fisher (WOSU Public Media) broadcast
John Biewen with contributor Katie Davis
Listen to audio from the broadcast


Sunday, February 13, 2011
The 7th Avenue Project broadcast
Hosted by Robert Pollie. KUSP 88.9 FM, Santa Cruz, California.
Listen to audio from the broadcast

Tuesday, September 21, 2010, 7–8:30 p.m.
Reality Radio: Talk and Book Signing
John Biewen with contributors Jay Allison, the Kitchen Sisters, and Ira Glass.

AIR, Inc and WGBH Boston
Listen to a radio special based on the event

Thursday, August 5, 2010, 7:30 p.m.
Reality Radio: Talk and Book Signing
John Biewen with contributors The Kitchen Sisters
The Booksmith
1644 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
Read the write-up of this event in the San Francisco Chronicle (August 22, 2010)

Monday, July 26, 2010, 7 p.m.
Reality Radio Performance and Book Signing with the Kitchen Sisters
Bay 7, American Tobacco Complex
Durham, North Carolina
Directions | Paid parking is available in the North Parking lot off Pettigrew

Tuesday, July 20, 2010
The Bob Edwards Show broadcast
John Biewen (also on the broadcast: Natalia Almada)
Listen to audio from event

Tuesday, July 13, 2010, 7 p.m.
Reality Radio: Talk and Book Signing
John Biewen with contributor Stephen Smith

Minnesota Public Radio
The UBS Forum
480 Cedar Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
Listen to audio from event

Saturday, May 15, 2010, 6 p.m.
Reality Radio: Talk and Book Signing
John Biewen with contributors Katie Davis and Joe Richman and special guest Bob Edwards
Politics and Prose

5015 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008

Friday, April 28, 2010, 9 a.m.
“Where We Live” radio broadcast | Connecticut Public Radio
Interview with editor John Biewen and contributors Jay Allison and Karen Michel
Listen to the audio from the broadcast

Wednesday, April 7, 2010, 6 p.m.
Reality Radio: Talk and Book Signing
John Biewen with contributors Jad Abumrad (RadioLab), Emily Botein (independent producer), Ira Glass (This American Life), Karen Michel (independent producer), Joe Richman (Radio Diaries)
In a conversation about audio documentary work
Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute
New York University

20 Cooper Square, 7th Floor Commons

Saturday, March 6, 2010, 7:30 p.m.
Words on Sound: Book Launch and Signing
With contributors Ira Glass, the Kitchen Sisters, and Joe Richman
Third Coast Filmless Festival
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

220 E. Chicago Avenue

“A book launch at a radio festival?! You got it. The TCF is thrilled to celebrate the launch of Reality Radio: Telling True Stories in Sound, a brand-new / first-of-its-kind collection of essays written by some of the most accomplished radio producers working today. Re:sound’s Gwen Macsai will join Reality Radio contributors Ira Glass (This American Life), Joe Richman (Radio Diaries) and the Kitchen Sisters (Hidden Kitchens, Lost & Found Sound) for a lively discussion—including lots of audio, of course—about what makes radio stories so damn special. Copies of Reality Radio will be available for purchase at a book signing following the event.”

Listen to audio from the festival

Singer-songwriter Abraham Levitan’s compositions, written and performed on the spot, followed each speaker. Listen to the song he wrote after hearing Macsai’s conversation with Biewen and Dilworth – “It’s a Book About Sound”