Bingo! Five Days, Five KALW Audio Academy Stories On-Air, and All Long-Form
By Guest Blogger Ben Trefny, KALW, News Director
This week, we had a bingo: a member of the Audio Academy reported a feature story every single day!
This is a really great moment in our program, because it reflects the culmination of the training the group has received throughout the last five months. Now, to be sure, everybody has contributed a lot over that time – producing interviews and profiles, writing web stories and news roundups, reporting spot news. The difference with these stories is that they’re long-form. They tell more complicated stores. And – big bonus – the pieces each showed the creativity and sound-rich storytelling for which our award-winning Crosscurrents program has come to be known.
Let’s check them out!
On Monday, we had a whole show about urban wildlife in the Bay Area. Fellow Kristina Loring made an insightful feature exploring the influx of coyotes into the San Francisco cityscape. (Read Kristina’s perspectives on her experience in the Academy below.) Her story was followed by a delightful team piece reported by Academy member Hannah Kingsley-Ma and engineering trainee Ted Muldoon about what’s being done about the concurrent population growth of people and wild turkeys. Ted also produced the final element for that show: a conversation about the legislative decision to allow the killing of wild boar in the South Bay.
Tuesday brought Academy member Raja Shah‘s wonderful voice to the air. He made a witty and thoughtful piece about the volunteers who oversee billions of dollars worth of bonds in San Francisco. Radiolab‘s Jad Abumrad once said that KALW is a rare station on which one can regularly find joy and humor; Raja’s story was a great example of that: taking a potentially dry and dull (yet important) topic and finding a way to make it extremely listenable.
We heard a thoughtful feature from Academy member Jack Detsch, Wednesday, about the challenges social service providers in San Francisco’s Tenderloin face in helping the polyglot community that surrounds them. That was followed by an interview, produced by Academy member Colin Peden, about Richard Pryor‘s formative time in the Bay Area. And then a great new feature that Ted has been working on with our station manager, Matt Martin, called FSFSF, showcasing comedians in San Francisco.
On Thursday, we heard the continuing evolution of Academy member Liza Veale‘s voice and style, as she brought an intimate portrait of a Berkeley High School ethnic studies classroom.
So what’s next? Well, more of the same great stuff! We’ve got features from Chris Hambrick, Marcy Fraser, and Olivia Cueva on tap for the coming week.
We’ve given these trainees the tools to find their voices. It’s going to be fun and fascinating to see how they develop over the next several months.
Here are some thoughts from Kristina about her experience so far this academic year as a paid fellow:
By Guest Blogger Kristina Loring, Audio Academy Fellow
Last week, while being introduced to someone for a creative collaboration, I was described with a shockingly apt moniker: a Hyphenate. I’ve never quite been able to check one professional box, or put one title on a business card, or easily answer the dreaded question of “What do you do?” at parties. Instead, I usually offer a poetic mashup of creative job titles (digital strategist, writer, radio producer) and my longtime obsessions.
Luckily for me, KALW is a place that embraces Hyphenates and pushes them to take a constellation of passions and transform them into audio-driven narratives. For instance, I have big sonic crushes on audiophiles and am very interested in the social implications of urban design. So, doing a story on the Arup SoundLab, a place that designs the sound of buildings before they are even built, was a golden mashup of interests for me. To reproduce the experience of being inside the SoundLab, my editors and our own audio engineers helped me play with metaphor and sound effects to help our listeners join me as I entered the SoundLab. This departure from the traditional news feature structure was refreshing and challenged me to hone my sound design skills.
For another piece (and my favorite I’ve made so far) I wanted a new challenge: to bring a voice to the airwaves that I don’t usually hear on mainstream public media. It’s easy to be critical when public media can’t reach or represent diverse communities or sigh over what voices are missing from the ones we hear from everyday. But I wanted to put my mic where my mind was.
For Crosscurrent’s show on passing (racially, vocally, etc.), I wanted to do a story of someone who didn’t want to pass: who didn’t want to be put in one of two categories: male or female. I interviewed my friend Clem, who identifies as genderqueer. In the piece Clem talks about what it’s like, in their own words (Clem uses “they” pronouns), to “stay in the gray” in terms of gender. The concept of being genderqueer is still new to a lot of people, including Clem’s dad, who listened to the piece, finding out for the first time that his child identified this way. His response was phenomenally supportive. I was proud to have catalysed that conversation for them, to have created such an intimate piece, and to work at a station that embraces the rebel storytellers, the outliers, and the Hyphenates.