Kara Oehler is a Peabody Award–winning audio documentarian, a founder of metaLAB (at) Harvard, and executive director of Media And Place (MAP) Productions. Her work focuses on pushing the boundaries of narrative journalism on the air and across multiple platforms; combining investigative storytelling with participatory media; and building new systems and opportunities for education and artistic practice. Primarily, Oehler creates aesthetically experimental audio and interactive documentaries to engage and refamiliarize people with everyday stories and pressing issues, striving to keep much of their uncertainty, cruelty, sparseness, whimsy, and clatter intact.
While at the Institute, Oehler will build the foundation for a new audio and interactive documentary program that immerses audiences in the particularities of place, combining aesthetic experimentation with ethnographic approaches to explore major news topics. For this new program, she will enter a specific place with a starting topic in mind—but will allow distractions and unpredictability, shared mythologies, and ambiguity to guide the process.
Oehler is the creator of multiple transmedia projects, including the open-source, multimedia publishing platform Zeega; the collaborative documentary Mapping Main Street; Yellow Arrow Capitol of Punk, featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s Design and the Elastic Mind exhibition; and the transmission art installation Chorus of Refuge at UnionDocs. Since 1999, her radio stories and media projects have received an Edward R. Murrow Award, won her a free103point9 AIRtime Fellowship, been featured in the Third Coast International Audio Festival, and aired internationally on the BBC, Marketplace, Morning Edition, RadioLab, and Studio 360.