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For the first time, Elise Fried, award winning documentary filmmaker and international independent radio producer /writer will be teaching in Hawai‘i.

Pacific Islanders In Communication is sponsoring 4 full scholarships or 8 partial scholarships, to interested Pacific Islanders.

This intensive Weekend Seminar in Independent Radio Production is taking place on February 3rd and 4th at the Pacific New Media Center, at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa.

Included will be writing for radio, digital production techniques and digital distribution.

Get an insight into working internationally and putting your message out to the world.

The full course description is on-line at

To apply, contact Elise Fried directly via e-mail, ASAP, at:  

Please send a few sentences as to why the course will be useful to you, as well as your background in media, and if you would need a half or full scholarship. If possible attach a CV.



Pacific Islanders In Communications Honolulu, Hawai‘i

By Elise Fried

Pacific Islanders are in a position to create radio material for worldwide broadcast that, for non-natives, is prohibitively expensive or impossible to gather. With recording equipment and the ability to send sound files over the Internet, you can create programming for nearly every major radio station in the world and for Web radio.

Three summers ago, my partner and I researched and recorded material for the feature radio documentary "Like Ants on a Leaf," concerning the effects of global warming on the culture and environments of several remote South Pacific countries. After years of spending 80 percent of our time developing and raising money for film projects, radio seemed a faster, lighter way to bring a subjects into the world.

We traveled for 6 weeks with a small but heavy backpack full of audio equipment. The portability of the equipment enabled us to trek 12 kilometers over sand and coral reef to traditional villages on the far side of Tarawa in Kiribati, and to stay far from power supplies. The following summer, I returned to the same places with an ITVS film crew, working on the same topic. Carrying a vanload of film gear clearly affected the way the story was gathered and told, our interaction with the subjects and the crew’s fatigue level. Production length, from idea to airdate, was two years longer than our radio program. We eventually aired and sold our piece to the BBC World Services, Deutsche Welle and German National Radio. Deutsche Welle also streams their programming over the Internet, an area for audio production which will expand in the future and will need more content.

I have made documentary films for years. As preparation, I would record hours of audio interview. Weeks later, I would return with a film crew and ask the subject to retell certain stories on camera. Our radio pieces are made like films; we research and record 30 hours of material, then edit our best interview and sound into one hour-long piece and several shorter versions.

Radio has many unsung advantages over film. Anonymity allows interview subjects to be more at ease; they talk more truth and worry less about appearance. It is easier to edit a concise story with audio than with a talking head attached. Mythology and history are easier and less kitschy when represented in radio. The imagination often helps create a picture more vivid than if presented literally.

German radio has a tradition of long form radio documentary, of composing a complex subject and causing the listener to think, of including original language and constructing the dramaturgy of the story like a good film. The American radio landscape is a bit bleaker, ‘Soundprint’ being the best long form, non-fiction series on the air. U.S. radio typically considers 7-minute pieces long. These short pieces are written more like straight news, with little poetic description or accompanying music. For U.S. radio, one should especially try to time proposals and broadcasts to relevant current events.

There is a perfect time for every subject. In our case, we knew that there was to be a World Climate Change negotiation in November 2000 in The Hague and timed our U.S. radio broadcast with this date. We then had a better chance of getting the subject on air and of effecting public opinion.

Much news is never heard because it is not considered a dramatic enough story, or because the story is considered too geographically distant from the listening audience. It is the writer’s job to make material interesting, alive and personal. We felt the world’s first world people should know more about the effects of their consumptive behavior on less powerful nations. Yet voices directly from second and third world countries are rarely heard in the media because the cost of sending a journalist from Germany to Tuvalu, or from San Francisco to Angola, is astronomical. In addition, no matter how far a journalist travels, or how long it takes to write and mix a program, the compensation from worldwide radio pays between 35 and 60 dollars for each produced minute. We use the original materials to make several programs, but it still barely covers the cost of travel. We feel privileged to learn about the world first hand and retain creative control over our research and work.

The areas of the world we report on are distant, of no interest to first world countries economically, or are dangerous. We call them the "white corners." To be able to report about these parts of the world, we do a lot of research, arrange for small grants, stay with NGO’s and eat sparingly. Rather than allow the gatekeepers of the media to dictate what is possible, we take it upon ourselves to make good programming.

As Pacific Islanders you know your own cultural and political landscape best. Other parts of the world are interested in what is going on in your backyard but cannot afford to send people to research and gather material. So, if you have a story to tell, a political subject that is under your skin, write it up, find a commissioning editor that is interested in your subject, and begin. The world needs your perspective.

To check out guidelines for radio programs produced in America, see and and their links.

Elise Fried will be teaching a course in independent radio production at the Pacific New Media Center at the University of Hawai’i’s Manoa campus on Oahu the weekend of February 3rd. Included will be writing for radio, production techniques and digital distribution. The full course description is on-line at There are a smallnumber of partial and full scholarships available to Pacific Islanders in Media to take this course. Please e-mail, ASAP if interested.

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