A local podcaster that has been documenting the people, events and experiences of Vermont for a decade was recently presented a Peabody Award for her piece on the heart-wrenching story of Finn Rooney’s suicide. Erica Heilman received the national award last week, one of only 30 given out each year for the very best storytelling in television, radio, digital and streaming media.
Heilman, an independent podcaster that produces Rumble Strip, created “Finn and the Bell,” which captured the heartache of family, friends and the greater Hardwick community over Finn’s death and the solace they found in each other and through realizing a dream of Finn’s to restore a tradition of ringing a bell at times of community celebration.
Heilman, who produces her show from her home and is listed in the award presentation as the creator, writer, editor and reporter, spent eight months gathering the story for “Finn and the Bell,” which was the most complex story she said she’s ever produced because of the sensitivity of the subject and care she needed to give to those who were and are still grieving.
“I’m incredibly grateful to the people of Hardwick who were so patient with me and so gracious with their time to help me make this story, most of all Tara and her almost sublime insights into the nature of her son. … That she shared that with us is remarkable to me,” said Heilman.