CoJMC students narrate audiobooks in pop-up class

CoJMC students narrate audiobooks in pop-up class

Monday, January 13, 2020 - 7:15pm

by Molly Roe

Nine students at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications recently took part in an immersive new pop-up course that allowed them to learn about audiobook narration. The Audiobook Narration class, led by Assistant Professor of Practice Kaci Richter, met from August through October. 

Richter, a 2003 grad of the CoJMC who has nearly10 years of experience in broadcast radio, decided to lead the class after a meeting with the University of Nebraska Press.

The University Press addressed a need to get more audiobooks narrated and recorded, as the process is long, involves a lot of technical knowledge, and resources and time were limited. Before leading the class, Richter narrated her first book, "Terrorism, Betrayal and Resilience,” by Prudence Bushnell, so she could learn more about the process. 

“I had never recorded a book,” Richter said. “So I did a trial run to understand what it takes, the scope of the work, etc...a lot of what I taught the students, I never would have known without that first trial run.” 

Richter then went on to produce and narrate “Nebraska” by UNL English faculty member and award-winning author Kwame Dawes. She is currently recording more books for the University Press. 

Students in the Audiobook Narration course met every other week to discuss techniques, tips and tricks. For example, Richter showed them how to stand with correct posture while narrating, how to gain stamina in your voice, what food and drinks to avoid before recording and more. 

The University Press then selected 20 books ranging from poetry to novels for students to choose from. Richter said it was important that each text was a reasonable length to accommodate the students’ busy schedules. Six of the nine students completed their narrations and four were approved by the University Press. These students are now listed as the narrators on sites such as Amazon and Audible. 

Two of the authors reached out to the University Press to compliment the students’ work. One of these was Kathleen Flenniken, author of “Famous,” a poetry book narrated by senior advertising and public relations major Mia Virgillito.

“Honestly, I haven’t thought of a few of these poems in quite some time, others are favorites still—she (Virgillito) brought every one of them back to me,” Flenniken wrote. 

Susan Blackwell Ramsey, author of “A Mind Like This,” also reached out to commend student Grace Fitzgibbon for her narration. Fitzgibbon is a junior journalism major.

Richter said she was happy with the success of the class and that the students’ got work published. 

“In the industry, whether its voice acting or audio narration, no one will give you a job unless you’ve had a job,” Richter said. “No one will hire you as a voice narrator if you don’t have any published narration under your belt. The point of the class was to get students’ work submitted and published.”

Richter is planning to lead the class again next fall. The focus will be on reformatting the class to make sure students are given enough time and resources to complete their narrations.

Dawes and Richter
Dawes and Richter