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“I almost broke my butt”: starting in the middle of the story

Posted on 6 March 2013


Now that I feel comfortable with my script-writing, I’ve challenged myself to get stronger and collecting and editing tape pieces. My colleague George Baker is excellent at it (for example) and I’ve been listening to a lot of different styles to develop my own.

We’ve been doing a series on the last weeks of winter on Daybreak and I volunteered to go out and find some kids sledding. After checking a couple of places I found a brother and sister who were excellent interviews. I gathered up the sound and headed back to studio to put it together.

Traditionally, I would have edited things this way: first, I would have some ambient noise of them sliding. Then I would have them introduce themselves. Then I would just take the interview in the order it happened, editing chunks out for length and maybe splicing in some more sliding noises for transition. Pretty straightforward.

Instead, I decided to play with things a little bit. In the host introduction, I don’t reveal who I am talking to or what I am talking to them about. It simply says “Forget skiing and snowboarding: when the snow is replaced by ice, it’s time for the ultimate extreme sport. Daybreak’s Andrew Kurjata brings us this installment of our series ‘Last Run.'” Then the tape begins:


If you listen, you’ll notice I don’t have the kids introduce themselves until about one minute in. Instead, we start with me establishing we’re walking up a hill and saying “I notice you don’t have a sled.” At that point we have some sense of where we are. Then we get Isaac’s voice and we have a sense that he is young. But then we launch into my favourite part of the story- when he tells me that the last time he went sledding “I almost broke my butt.” Then we go from there.

It’s still pretty straightforward, but I feel like it makes for better radio by containing a small element of surprise and leading with the most ear-grabbing part of Isaac’s interview. Once you realize what a great talker this kid is, you want to stick around a while longer to see what else he has to say- and there are more highlights.

It’s not perfect or earth-shattering by any means, but it’s a small victory for me. I’m moving a bit beyond basic tape editing and getting closer to the work I admire most.

Oh, and if you would like to see some photos of Eva and Isaac’s daring moves, head to the Daybreak North webpage.

Filed under: CBC, journalism, personal, radio

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