Creative Storytelling - DipLCM

Radio & Podcasting with RTÉ

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Gain a qualification online creating great radio documentaries and podcasts.

Have you ever wanted to know how radio documentaries and podcasts are made? Have you ever wanted to make radio documentaries yourself? Or maybe you work in radio and would like to gain a university accredited and industry endorsed qualification in this area?

Created with Liam O’Brien, the series producer of the multi-award winning RTÉ Documentary On One department, this course shows you the exact steps you need to take to create great radio documentaries.

Once you have completed the online course, you’ll also have the opportunity to gain a University awarded and Ofqual validated DipLCM Qualification in Creative Storytelling. This allows you to use the letters “DipLCM” after your name and is the first qualification in the world of this kind!

In this course you will learn:

  • How to create a documentary that really connects with your listeners.

  • The art of storytelling.

  • The KEY ingredients to award winning documentary making.

  • How to stop your listeners’ from switching off and tuning out during your story.

  • How to make sure your documentaries or podcasts sound professional.

  • The vital elements you MUST have with you at every recording session.

About the instructor

Liam O'Brien

Course Author & Senior Instructor

Liam O'Brien (M.A.) is an award winning radio producer and documentary maker. His work has been broadcast all over the world, in addition to winning over 70 awards for his creative radio productions. Liam is the current series producer of Irish radio’s (RTÉ) world-renowned, Documentary on One unit. During his tenure, the Documentary On One has won almost 300 national and international awards across all the major media competitions of the world. Documentary On One is one of the top podcasts in Ireland and one of the most successful creative radio documentary units in the world at present. Liam has won the Prix Europa (Europe's largest premier media competition) three times and in doing so, is the only person to have won the coveted titles of 'European Radio Documentary of the Year' and 'European Radio Investigation of the Year'. Story is at the heart of everything Liam produces and to date, Liam has been involved in the production of over 250 creative radio documentaries for the national public broadcaster in Ireland. As a creative radio trainer, Liam has provided training at many universities, as well as various national broadcasters around Europe. In addition, he has been a course tutor for the EBU (European Broadcasting Union), teaching young documentary makers throughout Europe on how to make great creative radio. He has also been a judge at many major radio festivals/competitions in the United States and throughout Europe. Liam holds a B.A (Hons) in Music, an M.A. (Hons) in Music Technology and a Dip. in Journalism (Hons). When it comes to creative radio storytelling, Liam says, "everyone and everything has a story to tell. So be curious, be open - your audience awaits!"

[email protected]


Leo Braun - Founder of Prix Europa

“I have known the work of Liam O’Brien for many years.  His outstanding radio documentaries have four main roots. Firstly, he has a remarkable flair for the importance and the necessity of a subject. Secondly, he understands what a subject needs to develop into its size and strength. This means he has a skillful hand in structuring a piece, to let it go where it wants to go but to keep it under his control. Thirdly, there is his craftsmanship of recording. He even knows that you should mike a voice in front of the chest to give it its inner volume.But all these merits are not worth much without his basic gift:  he loves what he is doing, so you feel his person in his programmes, the passion, the humour, his temptation to yield to the playful twists of his story.

Nevertheless there is a huge difference between producing a masterpiece or even many and the yearly success of a programme unit.  For this you need strategy, marketing and a tailor-made concept for communication.  And here Liam O’Brien proved to be capable to think out of the box:  I admired how fast he transformed an Irish programme format, rather unknown outside of Ireland, into an intercontinental brand.  He was very fast to understand the possibilities the Internet has to offer.”

Simon Elmes - Former BBC Creative Director (2003-2015), Radio Documentarist and Creative Consultant

"Liam O’Brien has been a powerful and influential voice in radio documentary for a number of years. As the creative force behind RTÉ’s Documentary on One, he has made and supervised countless outstanding stories of contemporary life in Ireland and beyond which have set the benchmark – nationally and internationally – for sophisticated storytelling, crystalline sound capture and powerful narrative, both deadly serious and (refreshingly) with great good humour and wit. They have won him plaudits and prizes in equal measure, as did his internationally groundbreaking app for the strand which led the world and became the global model for documentary digital access. Liam is, too, an outstanding teacher and analytical editorial thinker who regularly trains students across Europe as well as at home and, here again, his natural wit and down-to-earth style make a powerful and irresistible combination."

Natalie Labourdette - Head of Training at EBU (European Broadcasting Union)

"Liam is a radio producer of the highest calibre, he knows how to tell a story and how to craft it. Liam knows how to structure a feature with a story, a plot and, within them, the beats. He designs beautiful dramaturgical sketches. Liam understands the values of rhythm, pace, climax, scenes and character. He truly cares for the listeners by managing to hold attention, conveying the right information and creating expectations and finally creating a memory in listeners' minds. Liam enjoys a fantastic reputation in the field in Ireland as well as abroad. Therefore, I highly recommend Liam O'Brien as an individual of extraordinary ability in radio production who masters the unquestionable power of storytelling."

Edwin Brys, Professor of Radio Documentary at the Royal Institute of Theatre Cinema and Sound (Belgium), former Head of Documentary at VRT

"Having worked closely with Liam O’Brien for many years and having been present at his workshops for the International Features Conference (I.F.C) throughout Europe, I can only express my sincere admiration for his strong sense of storytelling and his radio producing capacities. And his natural and direct training talents. His choice of themes, topics and characters is creative and inventive and of great social concern. He leads the dramaturgy of his works with a sure and efficient hand."

Berit Hedemann - Head of Radio Documentary NRK, Norway (2002-15). Author, International Dramaturg/Storytelling Lecturer for TV & Radio

"I know Liam O’Brien (since 2005) as a deeply dedicated radio documentarist who always seeks the best solutions in each story he lays his hands upon. He has lifted Irish radio documentaries up to the top level of the world of radio, winning multiple international awards. Liam is intelligent, calm, structured, funny and kind. He rapidly finds the structure of a story in the chaotic reality, and is able to point it out in a pleasant but accurate and analytical way. He has a splendid ear for good stories, and for the specific way to tell them in the beautiful audio medium of radio."

Course curriculum

    • Introduction to Liam
    • How to navigate this course
    • Equipment Guide
  • Module 1: Ideas
    • Module 1: Overview
    • Ideas: The Starting Point
    • Finding the Right Idea
    • Story-based versus Topic-based Documentary
    • A Good Idea
    • Idea Ingredients
    • How Reliable is your Idea?
    • Your idea: Big or Small? The questions you need to ask
    • The 'Heart' of your Story
    • Timelines
    • Bonus Tips!
    • QUIZ: Ideas
    • Task 1 - Finding your own Idea
    • Task 2 - A Good Idea
    • Module 1 Tasks PDF
  • Module 2: Understanding Story
    • Module 2: Overview
    • Understanding Story
    • Something needs to change
    • Two Primary Aspects of Storytelling & Basic Tools Needed
    • Story Design Part 1 - Video
    • Story Design Part 1 - Animation
    • Story Design Part 1 - PDF
    • Story Design Part 2 - Video
    • Story Design Part 2 - Animation
    • Story Design Part 2 - PDF
    • Creative Storytelling - the layers
    • Story Tips
    • Understanding Story Quiz
    • Task - Storytelling exercise
    • Module 2 Task PDF
    • Webinar 1
  • Module 3: Plot
    • Module 3: Overview
    • Understanding Plot
    • 8 Elements of Plot: 1-4
    • 8 Elements of Plot: 1-4 PDF
    • 8 Elements of Plot: 5-8
    • 8 Elements of Plot: 5-8 PDF
    • Bringing all 8 elements together
    • Bringing all 8 Elements Together PDF
    • Understanding Plot Quiz
    • Webinar 2
  • Module 4: Understanding Sound
    • Module 4: Overview
    • Understanding Sound Part 1
    • Learning to Listen
    • Sound checklist before recording!
    • Understanding Sound Part 2
    • Bonus Tip
    • Understanding Sound Quiz
    • Webinar 3 Part 1
    • Webinar 3 Part 2
  • Module 5: Who Tells the Story
    • Module 5: Overview
    • Storytelling - an introduction
    • What makes a good storyteller?
    • Who Tells the Story?
    • Who Tells the Story? Quiz
    • Task - Story Development Exercise
    • Module 5 Task PDF
    • Webinar 4 Part 1
    • Webinar 4 Part 2
  • Module 6: Interviewing Techniques
    • Module 6: Overview
    • Types of Interviews & Techniques
    • Pre-interview Preparation
    • Questions and Structure
    • Helping your Interviewee to Create Pictures
    • Listening and your responses
    • Common Pitfalls - Beware!
    • Extra tips
    • Finally - the 'Soapbox' moment!
    • Interviewing Techniques Quiz
    • Task 1 - Practicing Interview Techniques
    • Task 2 - Practicing Interview Techniques
    • Module 6 Tasks PDF
    • Webinar 5 Interviewing Techniques
  • Module 7: Narration & Scripting
    • Module 7: Overview
    • Narration - an Introduction
    • When to use Narration
    • Narrator Roles
    • The Function of Narration
    • How to use Narration/Scripting
    • Final Tips on Narration!
    • Narration & Scripting Quiz
    • Task - Practicing Narration Part 1
    • Task - Practicing Narration Part 2
    • Module 7 Tasks PDF
    • Webinar 6 Part 1
    • Webinar 6 Part 2
  • Module 8: Technical Aspects
    • Module 8: Overview
    • Technical Aspects - an Introduction
    • Recording Device
    • Your Microphone
    • Your Headphones
    • Practice, practice, practice
    • Pre-Recording Check
    • Pre-Recording Checklist Sample PDF
    • Your Interview Location
    • More Technical & Recording Tips!
    • Production Tools -definitions
    • Vocal Production Tips
    • Technical Aspects Quiz
    • Technical Aspects Webinar - 31 July 2018
  • Some final thoughts........
    • Making the most of any situation
    • Responsibility
    • Recommended Listening
    • Webinar 8 Creative Storytelling
  • Exam submission & Extra Tuition/Bookings
    • Exam Submission
    • DipLCM - Examination Requirements
    • Creative Storytelling Syllabus
    • Appointments calendar - Book here!


Is this course completely online

Yes, this course is designed so that you can learn online at your own pace and in your own time.

Will I get a qualification for this course?

Students who successfully pass the examination will receive the qualification DipLCM in Creative Storytelling.

Do I have to take the exam?

No, you do not have to take the examination, though without the examination you will not receive the qualification DipLCM.

How long do I have to study before taking the examination?

You have exactly one year from your date of enrollment to study & enroll ALL relevant content for your examination. If content is uploaded close to the closing date, the video examination will take place in the next available slot.

What if I can't take the exam for medical reasons or extenuating circumstances?

If you feel you have just cause to take the examination after the one year expiry date, please email: [email protected] providing all relevant information. Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

What happens if I don't pass the examination?

If you don't pass the examination, you can apply to retake it. This will involve an exam retake fee only - for details email: [email protected]

What resources will I need?

You need access to a Windows, Mac or Linux computer or an iPad/tablet & an internet connection.