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Posted by on Oct 10, 2017 in ACE Learning Center, ACE Partners, Continuing Education | 0 comments

Audio Academy ’18 off to a Fast Start on Local Gender and Free Speech Stories

By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Public Radio

The new Audio Academy has about a month of experience, now, and already they’re starting to produce pieces for air on KALW‘s nightly news and culture show, Crosscurrents.

The drivers license value with a binary gender option. Photo Credit: Marissa Ortega-Welch.

On Thursday, 10/5, we put together a package on a non-binary gender designation bill on the governor’s desk. The story idea came up on a conference call with Academy fellows Zeina Nasr and Asal Ehsanipour who thought it was an intriguing next step in what’s becoming a movement. When our health reporter, Marissa Ortega-Welch, heard our conversation, she wanted to get involved, too. In the end, Marissa reported a Q and A with our host, Hana Baba, and Zeina and Asal gathered several voices of people who would be directly affected by the legislation. This is absolutely the kind of piece that becomes part of the news cycle because people involved with the Audio Academy make it happen. Check out the package right here.

Protesters and supporters of Donald Trump and Milo Yiannopoulos fill Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley, September 24, 2017. Photo Credit: Pax Ahimsa Gethen/Wikimedia Commons.

Two other Academy fellows recorded voices on the UC Berkeley campus on Tuesday, 9/26, in advance of the so-called “Free Speech Week” organized by a right wing campus organization. This was another assignment derived from our morning conference call. The demonstrations fell through after university officials spent a reported $800,000 on security, but the disruptions remain a real part of life for students and staffers. We aired perspectives several had to offer on the subject of freedom of speech because Academy fellows Atemu Aton and Amber Miles canvassed campus to see what a broad range of people had to say.  Hear what we aired right here.

I asked Atemu to share his thoughts about the assignment, and here’s what he had to say:

Atemu Aton on his first day with KALW’s Audio Academy. Photo
Credit: Ben Trefny.

I was very excited and interested in knowing what the students and staff had to say about what was clearly a controversial issue that could erupt into a violent situation. I decided to get an early start and interview as many people as I could in order to get lots of sound rich material and contrasting views. I was using a hand held microphone and portable recorder which made it very easy for me to get in and out of close quarters. Gathering sound and interviewing the students and staff was very easy because everyone was eager to express their views and feelings about the upcoming event and how it could possibly impact their campus. After spending a few hours at various locations and achieving my intended goal, I was kindly asked to leave by one of the authority figures. I am extremely proud of the results and the report that was aired on Crosscurrents a week later. When I listened to the report, I realized the pros and cons of my recording technique and how the Audio Academy seminars helped.

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