Open Mic Spotlight: Michael Iantorno

New York Festivals International Radio Awards Open Mic Spotlight Interview spends a few minutes each week tapping into the minds of  brilliant content creators from the wonderful world of radio. Who better to share their insiders view of radio then the Radio Awards Grand Jury?

NYF’s jury of award-winning directors, producers, journalists, writers, actors, creative directors, composers, on-air talent, and programming executives are actively involved in creating the innovative content on radio today.

Michael Iantorno

Grand Jury member, Michael Iantorno is a Toronto-based audio producer, digital media specialist, and game designer. He produced audio programming for the Canadian national broadcaster Accessible Media Inc and is pursuing an MA in Media Studies at Concordia University. His projects range from game hacking to web development.

Michael has produced live, episodic, and documentary style programming that has been recognized by the IAAIS, RTDNA, NCRA, and New York Festivals. His games have received thousands of downloads and have been appeared in festivals, books, and across the blogosphere.

New York Festivals: What three words describe you as a content creator?

Michael Iantorno: I recently received a rejection letter from a major broadcaster that described my latest pitch as being a “bit too niche.” I think that is an apt description.

New York Festivals: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Michel Iantorno: I am going to have to fall back on a bit of a cliché and pick: “don’t be afraid to try things that scare you.” Routine and comfort are nice every once in a while but they can also lead to professional and creative stagnation. It is definitely worthwhile to attempt things that are challenging, out of your area of expertise, or just plain weird.

This advice has been especially relevant for me since I find the entire world incredibly terrifying. Well, perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration… but many of my major life changes have been defined by uncertainty and risk. I would have never been a successful radio producer or, more recently, a graduate student if I always stayed within my comfort zone.

New York Festivals: What is your favorite program that you created and why?

One program that I will always have a soft spot for is An Open Book, a half hour long documentary that I produced for AMI-audio. An Open Book explores the intersections between literature, copyright, creativity, and accessibility, while analyzing the development of the Marrakesh Treaty. I had the opportunity to speak with a variety of passionate academics and advocates for the program, who discussed how copyright law and a hobbled public domain are keeping books out of the hands of those who need them most.

An Open Book was the first radio documentary in which I took a true leading role and it was very much a learning experience for me. Although the final product is a bit rough around the edges – and the topic of copyright law can certainly get a bit dry at times – I still look back on it fondly. It represents some of my best public interest and advocacy work to date.

New York Festivals: What do you think are the hallmarks of award-winning work?

Michael Iantorno: A lot of good radio content is adept at getting the audience to pay attention but in an almost a formulaic matter. It presses the right combination of buttons to evoke laughter, tears, or even anger in the listener. This is not a bad thing, of course, but it is only the beginning of what can be accomplished with the medium.

Award-winning radio resonates. It is insistent, persuasive, and enduring. It stays with an audience long after the first encounter and opens them up to new ideas and experiences. This type of programming is rare breed – perhaps even elusive or ephemeral – but is truly wonderful to engage with.

New York Festivals: What creative projects are next for you?

Michael Iantorno: I am currently entrenched within a two year Media Studies (MA) degree at Concordia University, where I am producing an interactive documentary that explores the often overlooked video game hacking subculture. The shift from radio to interactive documentary is an exciting one for me, and I look forward to experimenting with various digital platforms.

I also have a book chapter coming out in late 2018, which focuses on the development of online hacking communities, as well as conference presentations at McGill and the University of Regina. It should be a fun year!

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