Documenting somebody else's life is one of the hardest challenges producers face in their work. Over an extended period of time relationships intensify, stories often change drastically, and the line between personal and too personal blurs easily.
Two producers talk with the subjects of their work about the stories they've documented, the struggles they faced together throughout the process, and what they've learned from each other through the experience.
Documenter and Documentee (part one) is moderated by Joe Richman, with producer Mary Beth Kirchner and Rebecca Peterson, the subject of Kirchner's A Year to Live, A Year to Die.
Joe Richman is the founder of Radio Diaries, a non-profit organization. Over the past 15 years, Radio Diaries has helped to pioneer a model for working with people to document their own lives for public radio. Richman has collaborated with teenagers and octogenarians, prisoners and prison guards, bra saleswomen and lighthouse keepers to create award-winning productions including: Teenage Diaries, Prison Diaries, My So-Called Lungs, New York Works, Thembi's AIDS Diary, Mandela: An Audio History, and Willie McGee and the Traveling Electric Chair. Before Radio Diaries, Richman worked for many years as a freelance reporter and producer for NPR programs All Things Considered, Weekend Edition-Saturday, Car Talk, and Heat. He also teaches at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
Mary Beth Kirchner is an independent radio producer and national programming consultant. She has been producing documentaries, music series, and cultural programming for more than 20 years. Kirchner started her own production company in 1993 after having served as National Programming Director for radio at WETA, Washington, D.C. Prior to that, she was executive producer for radio at the Smithsonian Institution's Office of Telecommunications. She is based in Los Angeles.