Audio Academy Up! Here’s the KALW Crosscurrents Best Stories List of 2015
By Guest Blogger Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Public Radio and Tammy Drummond, Audio Academy ‘16
The KALW news team is on vacation, now, excepting coverage of breaking news. We’ve closed the door on another year, literally leaving nothing but the bare walls. KALW is temporarily moving down the hill from our current offices as our building is renovated, and the last week was largely spent boxing up our gear and preparing for a clean start in 2016.
As one of our last acts of 2015, our staff compiled a list of our best stories of the year. Here’s a link, in case you have the chance to listen.
What’s remarkable, and noteworthy for this blog, is that more than half of the pieces were reported by people who took part in KALW’s Audio Academy, many of whom produced them during their time within the nine-month program. The stories provide a broad and deep look at life throughout the Bay Area, giving perspectives on economic disparities, underserved populations, cultural differences, and ways to improve our society. Here are the Audio Academy stories that made the list:
Competitive South Bay Real Estate Market Pits International Chinese Buyers Against Locals – Liz Mak (’14)
NUMMI, five years later: Inside Tesla – Angela Johnston (’14)
Band of volunteers keeps an eye on SF bond projects – Raja Shah (’15)
Audiograph: The East Bay’s own “fight club” – Liza Veale (’15)
How one Bay Area school district makes sure teachers aren’t priced out – Angela Johnston (’14)
The real history behind Mary Ellen Pleasant, San Francisco’s “voodoo queen” – Olivia Cueva (’15) and Liza Veale (’15)
Periods are a monthly crisis for homeless women – Liz Pfeffer (’14)
Life after the fire on 22nd and Mission – Hannah Kingsley-Ma (’15)
So what’s coming up in 2016?
At the beginning of January, KALW will launch its podcast page, creating a landing for our on-demand content and promoting it for new audiences. It will be a home for several products generated through our department, including three produced by Audio Academy graduates. Sights & Sounds of the Bay Area is made by Jen Chien, Ted Muldoon (’15), and Chris Hambrick (’15). The Bridge is a weekly package of thematic KALW news content that will be curated and hosted by Raja Shah (’15). And David Boyer (’14) is launching a limited series The Intersection looking in-depth at the corner of Golden Gate and Leavenworth.
The original work by the current Audio Academy will start rolling out in early 2016 with their first work on place and people profiles. It will be followed by a series the class reports about public safety in the Bay Area. And there is plenty more to come, now that their basic training is pretty much complete. Really looking forward to it.
On behalf of everybody here at KALW, I want to wish you all a very happy start to your winter and the new year! And I’ll leave final thoughts for this year to Academy member Tammy Drummond, who shared this about her experience so far:
By Tammy Drummond, Audio Academy ‘16
I had been experimenting with audio for a while and was really itching for
an opportunity to take my very rough amateur skills to a professional level. The Audio Academy is a one-stop shop where I get to learn radio from story pitch/conception through the editing and sound mixing processes and on to production. I’ve already learned so much about the many elements that go into producing a radio show. On alternate weeks, I am responsible for fact-checking the show script. That has helped familiarize me with the writing style for radio, which is very different from what I know as a longtime print journalist.
I have really appreciated the seminars we’ve had so far. KALW’s editors have obviously put a lot of thought and care into the instruction. So far, we’ve had sessions on how to properly use a microphone to record good sound, interviewing techniques, how to write for the ear, and creating a story outline. I just had my first story pitch accepted and am very excited about working with my mentor, Audrey Dilling. She brings such creativity and enthusiasm to her reporting and has been teaching me how to incorporate music into my pieces. One of my main goals while I am at Audio Academy is to become reasonably proficient at Pro Tools. I am looking forward to working with the sound engineers who have so far been very supportive, to develop those editing skills. I know under the mentorship of such creative and caring folks, by the time I leave here, I will be one bad radio producer!