Audio Program Director & Podcast Host, Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University
2021 Speaker

John Biewen is audio program director at CDS and host of the Center’s audio documentary podcast, Scene on Radio. During a thirty-year career as a public radio journalist and documentary-maker, he has told stories from forty American states and from Europe, Japan, and India. John grew up in Mankato, Minnesota, and studied philosophy at Gustavus Adolphus College. He began his radio career as a 22-year-old reporter at Minnesota Public Radio. He reported from the Rocky Mountain West for NPR and spent eight years producing long-form documentaries for American RadioWorks (ARW). He came to CDS in 2001 — then “in residence” while working for ARW — and became the Center’s full-time audio director in 2006. His work for CDS has aired on programs such as All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, This American Life, and Studio 360; on the BBC World Service; and as one-hour specials on hundreds of stations nationwide. In 2015–16, Biewen led Storymakers: Durham, a community storytelling project exploring race and class in Durham, N.C., part of the national Localore: Finding America initiative. In both his radio work and his teaching, John is animated by curiosity about the human experience, a love of radio craft, and an interest in social justice.