Year’s Top 5 KALW Audio Academy Stories and The Tool Kit Needed for 2017
By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Public Radio
We’ve wrapped up our year of regular production in the KALW newsroom, and the Audio Academy and mentors are on vacation. Before we finished up, though, we compiled a list of our favorite stories from the year, and former and current fellows in the Academy make up a big part of it. Among them:
Medallions keep taxi drivers stuck in industry — Jeremy Dalmas (’14)
Seeking Asylum: Young Migrants Hope to Make Oakland Their Home — Hannah Kingsley-Ma (’15) and Liza Veale (’15)
A Long Wait for a New Bayview Market — Nicole Grigg (’17)
Where did San Francisco’s tent camps come from? — Liza Veale (’15)
The Intersection: Golden Gate and Leavenworth — David Boyer (’14)
These stories dealing with some of the Bay Area’s most significant topics — the new economy, undocumented immigration, food deserts, poverty, homelessness and gentrification — wouldn’t have happened without the hard work and passion of the people we’ve taught at KALW. It’s extraordinarily gratifying to list these pieces and media makers among our best, and they’re all worth the listen.
Check out the whole list of KALW’s best stories of the year by clicking right here.
We’re looking forward to continuing the training of the current class in 2017. Best wishes to everyone as we turn over a new year.
Check in with Academy alum Colin Peden (’15):
A few months after Colin graduated from the Audio Academy in June of 2015, he and his wife had a baby girl. Since then, as you can imagine, he’s been busy with lots of things, including producing work that gives him perhaps more frequent bylines on KALW than anybody else. Here’s what he has to say:
Prior to the Academy, I had never used a microphone as a journalist. In fact, the closest thing to journalism that I had done was edit my undergraduate university’s literary journal for a couple of years. Since leaving the Audio Academy I have done my best not to leave at all, volunteering at the station so that I could continue to develop my engineering skills.
In late 2015, I took lead on production of My Mixtape, which is a short (less than 2 minute) feature that airs on KALW four times a week. Interviewees from all walks of life are asked to submit a song that is important to them and tells us why, and then their story is mixed together with the song they chose to tell their story of the song.
Earlier this year, I joined the staff of Philosophy Talk as a line producer, and help produce live recordings of this call-in program about philosophy. Subsequently, I also joined the production of FSFSF, a weekly roundup of live comedy from around the bay area hosted by comedian Nato Green, engineering the show in collaboration with Ted Muldoon. In addition to this, I still mix stories for the Crosscurrents team when they can use the help, so I can continue to hone my quick-turnaround engineering/editing/mixing skills.
All of the last two years led to my first freelance audio engineering gig, recording interviews with residents of SRO hotels in downtown San Francisco for an exhibit at the San Francisco Public Library.
I’ve been pretty busy with radio since attending the Audio Academy. I haven’t quit my day job yet, but I’m whittling away at it, as well as continuing to play and record with a couple of San Francisco bands, and parent a 16-month-old daughter, as of this writing. I highly encourage those who are interested in pursuing the Audio Academy to do so, so they can explore how their skills work in the world of radio journalism.
Thoughts from current Academy fellow Beatrice Thomas:
Is it too much to say that the Audio Academy has changed my life … wait … let me be more specific. The KALW Audio Academy has deeply enriched how I understand my ability to impact the world. It has taught me that I can expect more from people. I can expect people to be equitable, non-judging, supportive, direct, humble and joyous to be around, while at the same time being extremely committed to the hard work of fairly and earnestly presenting our world in all of its complexity. It has easily changed the quality of the fabric of my life.
The Audio Academy is challenging. It is literally reaching inside of me and dragging the reporter/producer out. It is showing me how to show up and stand in my value and perspective and move through insecurity and self-doubt in order to get the job done. I am learning new skills and can feel my capacity to produce grow each week.
But perhaps most important, by giving a framework and a tool kit for elevating issues that are important to me and my community, the Audio Academy is teaching me about courage, empowering me to hold myself to a higher standard even in the face of failure and developing my voice to speak truth and be heard.