Ann Arbor library program shapes audio projects from music to podcasts

ANN ARBOR, MI — If you have a podcast pitch, an album idea or a budding radio drama, the Ann Arbor Public Library wants to hear from you.

The library recently launched Fifth Avenue Studios, a program designed for those who need help pulling together and recording their audio project. The program springboards off Fifth Avenue Press, a similar concept that helps new authors edit, design and market their books.

While the library’s downtown branch, 343 S. Fifth Ave., has had a professional recording space for a while, it has been mostly used by “library staff doing library podcasts,” said Richard Retyi, the library’s communications and marketing manager.

Now, the AADL is ready to open studio doors to others.

“We are taking pitches from people to help them put these things together,” Retyi said.

The program is open to all sorts of audio projects, including musicians, podcasters and radio dramas. The help provided will depend on the exact project, Retyi said, but can include professional recording and mastering, designing podcast episodes and seasons, and even guidance on getting a completed album pressed as a vinyl record. In addition to the studio, the library also offers “podcast kits” for checkout.

“Basically, we’re there for the community,” said John Bunkley, one of the librarians working with the project, adding that the studio is open to anything “done with sincerity and in earnest.”

Maya Fu, a 14-year-old freshman at Huron High School, is one of the podcasters currently partnered with Fifth Avenue Studio. She and Zachary Xu, a 15-year-old freshman at Huron High School, co-host “This Person I Met,” which features interviews with interesting area people.

“Having the opportunity to work with Fifth Ave Studio is extremely encouraging. Before, it was difficult to have the motivation to keep up with every aspect of having a podcast. We had to do everything ourselves, from locating potential interviewees, finding their contact information, coming up with a question list, doing the actual interview, writing a narrative, and editing,” Fu said in an email to MLive. “Now, however, we have a team to back us up, taking a lot of the dirty work off our shoulders.”

Xu said he is most excited about the connections the studio can help them build.

“As Rich once told us, many interview podcasts couldn’t sustain over time because they exhausted their social circle and couldn’t find more people and topics,” Xu wrote in an email to MLive. “We don’t want that to happen to us!”

The studio space will also be open to projects that are not through Fifth Avenue Studio, although the library is still working through details of how that will work, Retyi said. Proposals for Fifth Avenue Studio can be submitted through the library’s website.

“Record it on your phone, send it over to us,” Bunkley said. “We don’t want to put (up) roadblocks for people. …It’s all about your idea, your creativity. “

Find Fifth Avenue Studio on the library’s website or reach out at

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