KEXP Documentaries: Streetwise


DJ MicheleHere I am after 13 years at KEXP – with my dream job: making radio documentaries. After years of fascination with This American Life and film documentaries, it’s one of those things I always wanted, but never expected. The audio-movies (as I like to think of them) air every Thursday at 3pm and Saturdays at 2pm on KEXP.

As an editor, I am SOOOO into making every feature play like a song. Every transition (to narration, music, sound effects) is like a new instrument or chorus coming in. As a voiceover artist – I’m still finding my voice for these. Learning to set the scene visually. Learning to truly talk like I really talk. Learning to let the docu talk to me, let it have its own voice, its own mood.

The only parameters in my job are 1) Each documentary has to be short, about 5 minutes long and 2) The documentaries have to feature KEXP-type music.

This feels illegal. I’m practicing Journalism without a degree…. Don’t tell anyone!

So far my favorites are the ones I’ve lost sleep over.

I lost sleep over the Tupac documentary because he is such a contradictory icon, and very complex. And if you can’t explain who he is, then having a docu about him is pointless. I finally settled on using audio from his biography because he narrated it himself. tupac.jpg

I lost sleep over the They Might Be Giants one because they have the potential to drive some people nuts. In my opinion they are super-clever. But there’s no doubt they are a love-em-or hate-em deal. And I want you to love them.

I also lost sleep over the “Pop Songs In History” feature because the teacher-guy Paul Bloch was so impressively smart and funny that I wasn’t sure how to do him justice. Also, the music was a stretch for the KEXP listener. But I took a risk and ran with it. I actually used part of “Eye of The Tiger” (you know, the Rocky theme song). It gave me immense pleasure to think of masses of hipsters with Survivor blasting from their radios. Still makes me very happy…

Shoot. Who needs sleep anyway? You can listen to the first several docus in the first series Streetwise: Classrooms That Rock, a ten-part series that focuses on alternative music in education, and view photos by going here.

KEXP Documentaries are each 4-7 minutes long. Each episode airs Thursday afternoons at 3 on Kevin Cole’s Afternoon Show and are rebroadcast Saturdays at 2pm on Quilty 3000’s Show. Learn more about KEXP Documentaries here.

Hit me up with any feedback — email me.

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