Audio Essay Boot Camp

Multi-week on-site workshop

Audio Essay Boot Camp

With the growth of podcasting, the personal essay has undergone a kind of renaissance. But what do audio essays require of writers? How can you best exploit the spokenness of the medium—and the potential of sound itself?

In this two-part, hands-on workshop led by Erin Anderson, you’ll explore this burgeoning medium and learn how to bring new life to your writing. In the first workshop, we’ll use focused listening exercises to discuss techniques used on podcasts like UnFictional and This American Life, including approaches to style, structure, performance, sound design, and scoring. You’ll use the week between workshops to produce your own recordings, then return for a hands-on lesson in audio editing basics, when you’ll also learn to cut and layer your narration with music and effects.

NOTE: For maximum accessibility, we’ll be working with Audacity, a free, open source, cross-platform audio editing software. Participants are asked to bring their own laptops. No other specialized equipment is required.

During this 2-week workshop you will:

  • IDENTIFY and discuss principles of audio essay craft through short listening exercises;
  • EXPERIMENT with stylistic techniques for adapting your writing to audio genres;
  • BUILD introductory technical skills in recording and editing digital audio; and
  • PRODUCE the seeds of an original audio essay adapted from a piece of your own writing.

This workshop is designed for writers from all backgrounds. No previous experience with audio production is expected or required. Terrified beginners welcome.

Complete week-by-week descriptions below.

Saturday, June 29 & July 6, 2019
10 am - 1 pm

Advance registration strongly recommended.
The workshop is limited to 16 students.

$105 if registered by 6/17/2019
$135 if registered after 6/17/2019


Week 1 // Audio Craft and the Art of Adaptation

We’ll identify and discuss stylistic and structural principles of audio essays through short listening exercises and work to apply those principles to your writing through focused prompts and peer workshop activities. You’ll be asked to bring an original piece of writing—ideally a draft of a short personal essay, and begin to reimagine it “for the ear,” with feedback from fellow participants. We’ll cover strategies for performing and recording narration, as well as resources for sourcing music and effects.

Week 2 // Hands-on Editing Studio

You’ll return to the second workshop with recordings in-hand, ready to begin piecing together a draft of your audio essay. You’ll follow along with a hands-on technical demonstration of audio editing basics using Audacity editing software, with time to work on your projects and ask questions as they arise. We’ll conclude with a brief listening session to share clips of the work you’ve created. You’ll come away from this workshop with a draft of an original audio essay and a set of technical and conceptual tools to continue experimenting with the medium.

Location // 5119 Coral Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

The lower level of our workshop and gallery space is wheelchair accessible. Free on-street parking is available.

Doors open at 9 am, workshop begins at 10 am. Light breakfast and coffee will be provided. A kitchenette, with refrigerator and microwave, is available onsite for packed lunches or snacks.

Erin Anderson is an audio producer, multimedia storyteller, and Assistant Professor in the Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh, where she teaches in the undergraduate and MFA programs. She is the author/producer of Our Time Is Up, a 2016 winner of the Sarah Lawrence College International Audio Fiction Award, and “What Hadn’t Happened,” winner of The Atavist's 2013 Digital Storymakers Award. Her audio stories have been featured on KCRW’s UnFictional, WHYY’s The Pulse, and the podcast Serendipity. She is currently working on her debut narrative podcast series.

Questions? Please call us at 412-404-2975 or email Sharla Yates, at