institute for documentary studies


literate & ethical
storytellers in sound

use the tabs below to learn more about our radio program



Johanna Zorn & Julie Shapiro // Directors, Third Coast International Audio Festival

  • What You'll Learn

    Salt radio students hone their skills in all the elements required to tell a compelling story through sound alone. Through fieldwork, instructor and peer crique, and discussion, Salt students learn how to identify a possible story and gain access to it; conduct interviews with subjects in the field with attention to both interview and field recording techniques; write for the ear and use interview tape to enhance and shape a story; and produce polished work in Pro Tools 11, an industry standard audio editing program. Students also practice pitching their work for air and learn to market themselves as radio producers in today’s media world.

  • What your Salt schedule might look like

    Radio students spend two (very full) days a week in class in addition to weekly individual conference time with instructors. Time outside of class is devoted to researching, exploring story ideas (whether that means checking Craigslist posts, talking to people on the street, or going to a tiny dot on the map to explore), spending time with subjects in the field, recording, writing, and editing – lots of editing. All in all, Salt is a 24/7 experience for the fifteen weeks you’re here.

  • What's provided + what to bring

    Each Salt student is provided with an iMac desktop computer that has all the software you’ll need to do your radio and new media work. Please bring a personal hard drive with at least 1 TB of space to save and take your work with you.


    Radio students receive a gear kit complete with audio recorder and accessories for recording their interviews in the field. Salt provides one set of new AA batteries for all recorders – after that, students are responsible for providing their own.


    You’ll edit your audio in Pro Tools 11, and record your narration in our on-site sound booth. If you’ve had some experience with Pro Tools, great – you’ll be able to jump right into audio editing. If you haven’t, don’t worry – Pro Tools training is worked into the curriculum and support is available throughout the semester.


    Having a car at Salt is not required, but it makes pursuing stories outside of the Portland area much more feasible.

  • Curriculum

    Salt radio students take two courses during their time at Salt – their radio track course, and an all-student-body course in writing essentials for professional storytelling.

    The radio course is broken down into two components:


    In consultation with their instructors, students develop their own research topic early in the semester based on their interests and the viability of pursuing the topic in the context of Maine life. Students are expected to uphold the highest standards of ethical behavior with their subjects and to develop a collaborative working relationship with their research partner(s). Students present their field research on a weekly basis and discuss their goals and challenges with fellow students and faculty. The Field Research course is fundamentally integrated with the Advanced Documentary Skills course.


    The focus of Salt’s radio program is storytelling with sound. Our approach borrows from the fields of journalism, oral history, sound art, and documentary. Through a variety of hands-on applications, students learn an assortment of radio production skills, including field recording, interviewing techniques, writing for radio, digital audio production, and more. Over the course of the semester, students produce a profile, an audio postcard, and two sound-rich narrative features on subjects of their own choosing. The class is organized as a production team with students working as both producers and editors. We listen to professional and student-produced radio work every class to prompt discussion and to develop an ear. Graduates of the radio program leave Salt with a portfolio of their work and a comprehensive understanding of how to tell stories with sound.



    If you are interested in earning graduate or undergraduate credits for your coursework at Salt through one of our affiliate universities, please contact to learn more.



  • What do alums + others have to say?
    SALT IS LEARNING BY DOING. Radio students have time to explore stories in-depth to uncover the core of what makes them engaging and to learn how to produce those stories so an audience wants to listen.Working independently and with the group, it’s an intense experience. The outcome is audio producers prepared to create professional pieces on their own.”

    [ Patty Wight // Former radio instructor; reporter at Maine Public Broadcasting ]


    SALT IS ONE OF THE MOST RESPECTED ENTRY PATHS INTO THE FIELD OF RADIO. Its alums are incredibly privileged to have the technical skills, the foundation of extended class discussions, and the invaluable alumni network to propel them into a successful career.”

    [ Elizabeth Chur // Radio Student ]


    SALT IS A ONE-OF-A-KIND DOCUMENTARY SCHOOL. Students here get the chance to get out in the field right away and begin producing compelling, surprising radio documentaries. But what really makes Salt unique is the students. I’ve been impressed by their tenacity, curiousity and most of all their great attitude — they work as a team, helping each other through the inevitable technical challenges and providing valuble feedback on each other’s work until it’s as good as it can possibly be.”

    [ Michael May // Radio Instructor ]

APPLY {we’ve made it easy to do online}

meet the faculty
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listen to student
radio work
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a week in the
life of a salt
radio student
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