September 26, 2017

Pat Walters likes ambiguity

Radio producer Pat Walters has an eye, or rather an ear, for stories that end differently than you would expect.

Radio producer Pat Walters has an eye, or rather an ear, for stories that end differently than you would expect. “Find the ambiguity,” Pat told us at the second edition of The Power of Storytelling in 2012. “Find a moment that questions what you think your story is about.” He was pleading for journalists to look beyond the obvious – a belief that is visible in all his work, which spans over 10 years of print, radio and live journalism at some of the best places in the industry.

His podcast Undone, which aired on Gimlet Media early this year, looked at stories that were remembered one way by popular culture but turned out to have ended in a dramatically different way in real life. Such is the story of the 8,000-year-old skull found in the late ‘90s in a river bed that spawned the theory that the Caucasian race was the first to colonize North America. Pat and his colleagues went back to find out how the story actually ended after public interest in the topic faded. Don’t be surprised if the ending is a surprise.

Undone was Pat’s first project with Gimlet Media, a podcast company established in 2014 that produces chart-topping podcasts and hired some of the best radio producers, editors and reporters in the US. Before Gimlet, he worked for Pop-Up Magazine (a type of show also emulated in Romania by DoR magazine), and Radiolab, one of the most award-winning podcasts of all times, produced by PBS. Pat also worked as a magazine writer, publishing pieces in The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, and Popular Science, and he fact-checked Rebecca Skloot’s #1 New York Times bestselling book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (now an HBO movie by the same name, starring Oprah Winfrey).

This will be Pat’s third time in Romania (after his stints in 2011 and 2012) and the conference takes place just days after the launch, on October 4th, of his new podcast, Uncivil. Set during the American Civil War, which pitted anti-slavery Northern states against pro-slavery Southern states, the podcast will unearth unknown stories about those times and show us what we can learn from them during the complicated political climate in the US nowadays. Listen to the trailer here.