Audio Academy Honors, Outreach and Partnerships Help Build KALW Audience
By Guest Blogger Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Public Radio
It’s been a few weeks since I shared what’s been going on at KALW, so let’s get started!
As I noted in an earlier blog post, several people associated with our Audio Academy were recently recognized for their work by the Northern California Society of Professional Journalists. On Tuesday, November 10, we got to celebrate. Audio Academy graduate and current mentor Angela Johnston (’14) was named “Emerging Journalist of the Year” for excellence shown in her first five years of work. A story called the problem with ‘sounding white’ by mentors Jen Chien and Leila Day received the award for “Best Commentary/Analysis.” And Jasmin Lopez (’14), who went on to work for the nationally syndicated show Making Contact, won “Best Radio Feature” for Deadly Divide: Migrant death on the border. Congratulations!
In mid-November, I traveled to Dayton, Ohio, to visit the Kettering Foundation and sit at a roundtable with journalistic leaders from around the country along with community reporters to talk about how we can more effectively bring the voices of real people into the media. Much of our two-day conversation had to do with the Voices program launched by the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. I also had the chance to discuss the Audio Academy, generally with the big group and in more detail with several individuals, and we were roundly applauded for the work we do to train a diverse cohort of community members and help their authentic voices get heard by larger audiences. I’ll be following up over coming months with the executive director of the Maynard Institute, Evelyn Hsu, along with media specialists from Kettering.
Back home, we’ve been partnering with other media organizations from around the Bay Area with the idea of getting great content before the eyes and ears of larger audiences.
A story considering how homeless women deal with their periods by Liz Pfeffer (’14) was featured on the San Francisco Chronicle‘s website, resulting in thousands of additional online reads and listens.
A series of stories by mentors Leila, Angela, Audrey Dilling and Liza Veale (’15) about people displaced from San Francisco’s Mission District was picked up by Mission Local, again dramatically building our audience.
This has had a really significant impact on our listenership – our latest numbers show that the number of clicks of Crosscurrents stories at KALW.org have more than doubled, on average, over this time last year, and as we build more partnerships, they’re trending upward.
Several of our summer trainees have continued contributing to our show with meaningful stories.
Lezak Shallat and Emma Nobel partnered to create a story about why so many more men than women bike in urban areas.
Catherine Girardeau made a very useful, and funny, story about finding ways to save water around the house.
Jessica Placzek created a sound-rich profile of a post office in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District.
And Berenice Freedome interviewed students from Oakland International High School (another group supported by ACE) as part of this really fun, and timely, story about the power of emojis.
Also, our current Audio Academy class had work reach the air, last week, when Geraldine Ah-Sue and Shereen Adel teamed up to present this deeply moving Storycorps piece about how a friendship between immigrants endured through distance and time.
One of the most wonderful things about this Audio Academy class is the way they’ve come together, on several occasions, as a group. The way our program is structured, members are paired up for in-studio shifts one day a week, distributed throughout the week, and so there are not too many opportunities to interact with classmates. But our current bunch clearly has a social bent, and they’ve found ways to get together many times. In November, the entire class met up at the offices of the Oakland Tribune for a listening session to hang out and hear what they’ve each been working on. What fun!
To close this week, here are some brief thoughts from my mentee, Edwin Okong’o:
Edwin Okong’o, Audio Academy (‘16)
I have have studied news gathering, writing, and editing up to the graduate level. But the Audio Academy is the first time I have felt treated like an adult. At Crosscurrents I feel like a student, but also like an expert. They are as eager to learn from me as I am from them.