Isaac Kestenbaum is coming home to Maine to run the Salt Institute at MECA. Photo by Rich Frishman

Isaac Kestenbaum, a 2008 graduate of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, former Press Herald reporter and Peabody Award winner, is the new director of the Salt Institute. Maine College of Art, which runs the institute, announced Kestenbaum’s hiring on Thursday.

He has more than a decade of experience as an audio producer and journalist. “Isaac’s professional experiences as an audio storyteller and his own background as an alum of the Salt Institute make him a great asset and leader for Salt at MECA,” Araminta Matthews, associate dean of Graduate and Professional Studies, said in a statement. “Isaac will be a critical addition to the future of Salt Institute’s Radio and Podcasting track, as well as a support to the development of the recently updated Short Film curriculum.”

Kestenbaum begins at MECA on Aug. 10. He grew up in Deer Isle and is the son of Maine poet laureate Stuart Kestenbaum and artist Susan Webster. The elder Kestenbaum is a former interim president at MECA.

In a statement, Isaac Kestenbaum said, “Salt is an iconic institution within the journalism industry and has graduated countless legendary professionals. As a native Mainer and Salt alum, I am honored to lead the Salt Institute and look forward to working with and training the next generation of storytellers.”

Kestenbaum is a former production manager at StoryCorps, where he won the Peabody Award for broadcast excellence. He won several awards for his reporting on climate change in Alaska and has worked with Vox, National Public Radio, The Guardian US and other media organizations. He is also co-founder of the production company Future Projects, which created the true crime podcast “Midnight Son” for Audible Originals.

Salt offers at 15-week program that teaches students to become documentarians and storytellers.


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