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Kara Oehler

Producer of City of the Future
Kara Oehler is a documentary artist, radio producer and media entrepreneur. Her Peabody award-winning radio work has aired around the world and her interactive storytelling projects have been exhibited at MoMA, SFMoMA and many other venues. She is the Co-Founder of Mapping Main Street, an upcoming podcast and traveling exhibition documenting all 10,000+ streets named Main Street in the United States; GoPop, an app for juxtaposing GIFs, photos and videos acquired by Buzzfeed in 2015; Zeega, an interactive storytelling platform; metaLAB (at) Harvard, a research center focused on network culture; and the UnionDocs Collaborative Studio, an innovative model for documentary arts education and production. She was a Film Study Center Fellow at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and a Rockefeller Fellow with United States Artists. A guy in a music store recently told Kara that the two most annoying instruments in the world are accordion and banjo. Kara plays both (poorly).


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Recent episodes featuring Kara Oehler
1: Mass Timber
City of the Future
In our first episode of City of the Future, our new bi-weekly podcast, we explore how mass timber could transform our cities — by making wooden skyscrapers possible. We talk to the world’s leading expert on tall wooden buildings, Michael Green, and Sidewalk’s Director of Buildings Innovation, Karim Khalifa. This episode was produced by Kara Oehler. Our hosts are Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk. Mix by Sharif Youssef. Our music is by Adaam James Levine-Areddy (check out his band at amsterdamlost.com). Our art is by Tim Kau. Special thanks to all who made this episode possible: Michael Green, Karim Khalifa, Claire Mullen, Eric Baczuk, Benjamen Walker, and Andrew Callaway. 
5. Kara Oehler: Being Really Internetty
She Does Podcast
It’s difficult to sum up what Kara Oehler does in a single title. The process quickly turns into a hyphenated chain of words--documentarian-radio producer-tech founder-interactive media producer-entrepreneur-academic. We chatted with the co-founder of Zeega and GoPop--the latter which was recently acquired by Buzzfeed--about her early influences, growing up in the woods of Indiana, starting communities like UnionDocs Collaborative Studio and metaLAB at Harvard, living out of her car to document Main Streets across America, and being a female in the tech and startup world. Come along for the ride, it’s a lot of fun. “To start a genre, and to form a community, you have to make up all the words for it. There are a lot of words like that, interactive documentary is one. There was point where that combination of words had no search results on Google. But then you start writing about it, talking about it at conferences and then it becomes a genre.” — Kara Oehler, co-founder of Zeega & GoPop RELATED LINKSKara on TwitterBuzzfeed Acquires Go-PopZeega Storytelling PlatformUnion Docs CollaborativeMapping Main Street Interactive DocumentaryKara’s Audio Documentaries: Third Coast Festival Matter VC Kara as “Woman Celebrates 4th Year Of Weaning Self Off Facebook“ via The OnionHow to Pronounce GIF Who is your career role model? I've got an incredible group of passionate friends and family who are all doing amazing work. I get inspiration from them every day. And my parents.What is a tool you can't live without? I love my Sound Devices 722. I've had it since 2005 and it creates the most beautiful recordings. And this winter, my LL Bean duck boots have been clutch.How do you take your coffee? At home: french press, black. At a fancy coffee shop: latte.What's your spirit animal? Llamacorn (Llama + Unicorn)Name: Kara OehlerCurrent City: Brooklyn, NYDate of Birth: 1978What are you listening to now? I'm loving the Radiotopia podcasts, Gimlet podcasts, and Invisibilia. I find out about new releases from Other Music's email list and listen to a lot of WFMU.What film/book/show/piece of media changed you? I'm a huge admirer of South African artist William Kentridge. The first piece I saw of his was a work called Black Box / Chambre Noir. It was a study for his artistic direction of a staging of the opera The Magic Flute, employing charcoal drawings, mechanical moving puppets and projections within a black box. He used this medium to tell the story of the Herero genocide in Namibia under German colonial rule in the early 1900s. The piece completely took me by surprise. I sat in front of it for a couple hours and wept. In 2010, I interviewed Kentridge and asked him about approaching subjects like genocide or apartheid in this way. Here's what he said:“To be human at all is to say, we need to forget a huge amount. But hold on to a tiny amount. But there’s some band between remembering and forgetting in which we can survive and exist. And I suppose the drawings in one sense take that narrow band and move within it and say, this is the band within human experience.”I think it’s often the job of storytelling to try and find that band - that entry point for people to be able to take in information and question their own role as a witness or participant, or to just simply connect with a stranger's story. And this is something that Kentridge does with so much thought, emotion and skill.CREDITSPRODUCED by Elaine Sheldon and Sarah GinsburgSOUND DESIGN by Billy WirasnikMUSIC FEATURED IN SHOW:Jeff “Super Bobby” Monroeville Music CenterLewis of Busman’s HolidayCLIPS FEATURED IN SHOW:Suzuki Method This American Life #277, Apology Korva Coleman (NPR)“And I Walked” Third Coast2008 Presidential Debate 
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New York, NY, USA
Episode Count
Podcast Count
Total Airtime
52 minutes, 25 seconds