Crown the King: Red Takes Black
Adam Kampe


TCF, USA, 2012
Library Spotlight, ShortDocs
Community, Games, Seniors
02 32


2012 SHORTDOCS WINNER! One block from Adam Kampe's apartment sits the Capitol Pool Checkers Club where, each week, men with nicknames like the Hammer, the Pressure Man, and the Razor gather to trash talk over heated games of checkers.

Crown the King: Red Takes Black, by Adam Kampe, one of four stories chosen (from 180 submissions) as a winner of the 2012 ShortDocs Challenge. The Challenge, a collaboration with EveryBlock, invited anyone and everyone to produce a short audio story that featured at least two neighbors and included a color in the title, and three seconds of narrative silence.

Read more about Adam's ShortDocs experience, Behind the Scenes, and listen to the other 2012 ShortDocs winners:

The Red, White and Blue Bus, by Luke Eldridge

Red White and Bruised, by John Musto

Glass, Not Glitter, by Abby Wendle


Adam Kampe tripped and fell into audioland about 10 years ago as a volunteer at WPFW in Washington, DC. A few years later, he was hooked and later attended Salt in 2005. This experience and a bit of luck landed him a job at the NEA, where, for the past six years, he's been producing audio (and now video) about the arts.


Hear all 180 submissions from the 2012 Third Coast ShortDocs Challenge, a collaboration with EveryBlock.


What's your background? How do you spend most of your days?

My background is in audio production. After a stint volunteering at WPFW in Washington, DC, I attended Salt in Portland, Maine. For the past six years, I've had the privilege and honor of editing and producing AV stories about the arts at the NEA. I've also become the permissions person in our Public Affairs office so much of my time is spent securing music rights for assorted projects, namely the weekly NEA podcast, Art Works.

How did you hear about the ShortDocs Challenge?

I've been to the TCIAF (Conference) a few times. I distinctly recall wanting to participate after listening to the "99 Ways to Tell a Radio Story" challenge in 2006.

Please explain how each rule manifests in your SD.

Neighbors: The Capitol Checkers Club is right around the corner from my apartment on 9th Street, NW. I've passed by the men playing inside or smoking outside at least once a week for years now. In the piece you hear two principal voices---the Razor, the narrator/protagonist and his opponent, John Henry. They are my neighbors.

Color in title refers to: Typically, Checkers discs are red and black.

Silence: As much as players like to talk or trash talk throughout the game, there is also a lot of silence where the men are quietly studying the board. I inserted the 3 seconds of silence in the only place it seemed sonically appropriate. The Razor pitched me a softball when he said "....and wipe you out!" A perfect moment to drop the floor of sound out.

Did the rules help or hinder your experience producing your SD? Which rule was hardest to follow?

Helped. Rules were meant to be broken (sometimes), but they can also prohibit a wandering mind from getting too far off track. The narrative silence was the hardest rule. Hands down.

What's your next story about? (whether it's in the works or not, yet...)

For work, I'm producing a piece about a 93-year-old machinist-cum-artist who makes giant whirligigs outside of Wilson, North Carolina. Thanks to a few grants, including two from the NEA, the restoration of his kinetic sculptures are helping revitalize the struggling town.


Mr.Kampe!Congratulations! A delightful insight into two friends who bring the listener into a calculated game of checkers and friendship.
Posted by Sharon George from Brunswick, GA at 08/04/2012