Behind the scenes

with Andy Mills

The podcast

True Stories - Behind the scenes with Andy Mills (in English)

by True Stories podcast online

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How can talking in a “chipmunk voice” help to make a breathtaking, award winning podcast? Andy Mills, audio producer for the New York Times (works for the The Daily), shares strange and wonderful insights, and shameful mistakes, that led to the creation of Caliphate, winner of a Peabody award for best podcast.

In a conversation with podcast producer Jair Stein, Andy Mills takes a deep dive into making a narrative podcast. He talks about the necessity and the perils of audio experimentation, and lessons he learned from podcast heroes like Brian Reed (S-Town), Robert Krulwich (Radiolab) and Ira Glass (This American Life).

A unique look behind the podcast scenes with Mills. You will learn about the importance of narrative methods in conveying a story and emotions. What are the “do’s and don’ts”? Mills explains how he works when he builds scenes and how he tests whether they work in terms of length and tension. He addresses the importance of trust in the person you work with, the “essential tape” to guide you through a story and the power of silence and tranquility. An indispensable hour of listening. Mills and Stein even claim that writing journalists can learn from this!


Produced by Jair Stein
Research by Inge Oosterhoff and Randy Vermeulen
Executive production by Judith Eigeman and Laura Das
Senior production by Evelien Kunst.

Music by Blue Dot Sessions

The Narrative Journalism Foundation receives support from the Democracy and Media Foundation, Pictoright, Lira Reproright, the University of Amsterdam and the Evens Foundation.

Update from Jair Stein

.In May 2020, we interviewed New York Times audio producer Andy Mills about the award winning podcast Caliphate. What no one knew then, but has become clear over the last few weeks, is that the main character of the podcast fabricated most of what he told the producers of the show. In a series of articles in The New York Times and an extra episode in the Caliphate podcast, the Times explains how they were duped by Shehroze Chaudhry (nicknamed Abu Huzayfah), a Canadian citizen who claimed to have committed atrocities in Syria as a member of ISIS. In reality, the Times now writes, he “concocted gruesome stories about being an Islamic State executioner as part of a Walter Mitty-like escape from his more mundane life in a Toronto suburb and in Lahore, Pakistan, where he spent years living with his grandparents”.

Of course the news about Caliphate changes the whole story of the podcast.  We would like to stress that we think our conversation with Andy Mills is still relevant for podcast producers, as it deals with other important aspects of what it takes to make a narrative podcast.

You can read the full update from Jair here.

Biography Andy Mills

Andy Mills is a senior producer and reporter for The New York Times where he makes audio shows and series. He was a part of the small team that founded an audio department at The Times and created their flagship show “The Daily.”  In 2018 he documented the work of reporter Rukmini Callimachi for the series “Caliphate” which was the recipient of a Peabody Award, an Overseas Press Club Award, an Edward R. Murrow Award and a finalist for a 2019 Pulitzer Prize. Previously, he spent five years as a producer for the podcast Radiolab. His work has appeared in The New York Times, NPR, ABC, BBC, WNYC and hundreds of public radio stations around the United States.

Biography Jair Stein

Jair Stein (1974) is a radio and podcast producer, specialized in narrative journalism, American style. He has worked as a science journalist, an investigative reporter and the host of a daily radio show. Over the last 10 years, Jair created several award winning podcasts together with a group of freelance radio producers, such as 1 Minuut, a series of very short radio documentaries (Prix Europa, 2008) and Plots, a Dutch version of This American Life (best Dutch radio program, 2013). He assisted in making the podcast series Opgejaagd (Prix Europa, 2018), a project by his wife, Jennifer Pettersson, and together they are currently co-producing an international podcast for CBC. Aside from his own podcasts, Jair coaches other people’s audio projects for Dutch public radio (NTR).



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