BEHIND THE SCENES with producer Cristina Parry, Bob Carlson, Jenny Radelet and Harriet Ells


Tell us a little about yourself. Are you producer in "real life"? Have you made audio stories before

My name is Cristina Parry and I am a producer with the BBC in Oxford. I make less audio stories these days, but when I was an on the ground reporter I did it more. It is what I love

How did you hear about the race, and why did you decide to compete

My sister, Giovanna Rossi, does a programme called Well Woman Radio for KUNM and she told me about it. I decided to enter at the last minute. We all get bogged down at times in our day-to-day job and sometimes doing something a bit different makes you appreciate what you do and know. This was the buzz I needed to remind me of my love of creative radio

Describe the light bulb moment when you realized your story fit the theme of "The Last Thing You'd Expect"..

I had been thinking about what stories I might be able to use, but without knowing the theme it is like trying to find a light switch in the dark. So when the theme was announced...bang...found the light! Hearing the sweet voice of a child suddenly bark a profanity was certainly a surprise to me when I first met I figured it fit

Was the time limit more blessing or curse? How might the story sound differently if you had more time

The time limit was fun! It certainly served to focus my options and speed up the creative process. In many ways it forced me to pare down the idea and get to the point in a way that more time would not. I feel we sometimes navel gaze too much and this kind of project brings you back to basics and reminds you what is important and how much you can achieve. If I had more time I would have just recorded more...the story would have been the same as the duration was set at no more than 6 minutes. So it just would have meant more editing

What was the most memorable moment in the 24 hours you spent producing Tic Talk

The most memorable moment for me in any story based piece is the people/person I get to talk with. We forget as broadcasters how privileged we are to be allowed into peoples lives and the responsibility we hold to tell their story honestly. The fact that the family allowed me into their home - Spencer's safe place - to talk to them was amazing. It was not easy for Spencer and the more excited he gets the more he "tics". It is an embarassment for him, and for him to share that very personal space was a real honour


What prompted the idea for the 24-Hour Radio Race

It's just like the 24 or 48 hour film contests that go on here in Los Angeles. We thought the same concept would work well for audio documentary because it's already a fast paced, efficient and intimate medium. One person can do a very complicated project on their own. In 24 hours of intensive radio-making, you could produce something really good

How did you come up with the theme & bonus element

We had a group of producers who brainstormed a lot of ideas. We picked theme "The last thing you'd expect," hoping that people would base at least part of their stories around surprise and unexpected moments, an important element of compelling radio stories. The bonus element was just something to keep people on their toes, and give them another opportunity to be creative. We looked through images online and found an Instagram picture of a 20-sided die. A single die carries a lot of story significance, obviously, but the 20 sided type is a little odd and mysterious. Unknown to a lot of people, very familiar to Dungeons and Dragons fans

And what percentage of entrants managed to include the 20-sided die

About 22% of the complete stories reference the die

What were your expectations for the number of participants and kind of stories produced, and how did they compare with the actual results

We had no idea how many people would enter. After a few days we had 20 people signed up, and we felt like even if no one else entered, we would at least have a decent number. In the end, around 200 producers entered the race, and 100 pieces were ultimately completed. It was really a testament to the lure of the audio medium. There were lots of people who had never done radio before, plus artists and writers who wanted to give it a shot

Would you do anything differently next time? (And will there be a next time?

We were all really happy with it, so I'm sure we'll do it again. One thing that might be helpful next year is to give a little more guidance to first timers and new producers. Some tips on the building blocks of a good radio story, that sort of thing

What did the race tell you about the current state of audio storytelling

It's something a lot of people want to do and they get excited about it. There are people out there who have been listening to all the incredible work out there on radio and podcasts, and want to do it themselves. Audio storytelling is personal, powerful and emotional, so it's irresistible.