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Posted by on Oct 20, 2014 in ACE Learning Center, ACE Partners, Continuing Education | 0 comments

Evolution and Music Inspire KALW Audio Academy Student to Tell Stories That Connect Us

By Guest Bloggers Ben Trefny and Colin Peden

Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW


This week, the Audio Academy trainees chose their reporting beats. Here they are:

Olivia Cueva – Youth
Jack Detsch – Informal economies
Marcy Fraser – Health care
Chris Hambrick – Energy / environment
Hannah Kingsley-Ma – Changing spaces / Litography
Alexis Luna-Torres – Richmond
Marlo McKenzie – Play
Lina Misitzis – Urban death and regeneration
Colin Peden – Conservation / music
Raja Shah – Public policy / How stuff works

It’s exciting for them to “own” a coverage area for KALW, and it will

KALW news director Ben Trefny stands before a gathering of Academy members, volunteers and staffers in the newsroom.

lead much of their work throughout the rest of the year. While they won’t be tied exclusively to that beat, they will begin to develop a database of contacts and loop themselves into the behind-the-scenes dialogue that shapes those subjects in the Bay Area.

Aside from the longer form features they’re working on, along with the ongoing training they’re receiving (which, this week, was about “writing for radio”), the Academy started to get involved with “day-of” reporting this week. The San Francisco Bay Guardian announced its closure, on Tuesday, and we decided to mobilize and air an interview during KALW’s broadcast of All Things Considered. Marcy Fraser took the lead in tracking down and booking the editor of the Guardian. Jack Detsch wrote the copy for our managing editor, Jen Chien, to read on the air. We turned the piece around within about 45 minutes, which was of great value for our audience.

All of the trainees are engaged with all aspects of our news production at this point. Things are going well!

This week, we’ll get to know Colin Peden, who has some very disparate projects going on: reporting a story about UC Berkeley receiving 14 M16 assault rifles in a federal giveaway; and engineering an interview with documentary filmmaker Judy Irving about pelicans. Here are his thoughts upon entering the Audio Academy:

Colin Peden, KALW Audio Academy Student

I am honored and excited to be a 2014-2015 KALW News Audio Academy intern. I have been interested in radio journalism for many years, and thought that my background in research biology, music, and cooperative work would give me an interesting perspective. I had several motivations for applying to the Audio Academy, but one of them was that I would love to get the opportunity to do some science reporting. I would love to attempt to help translate some difficult and important subject matter and help make it accessible and compelling for a general audience.

Initially trained as a research biologist, I have in the past been involved in cave exploration, endangered species management, and curating natural history collections, as well as performing laboratory research in evolutionary biology. During my career in science, my research was published in several peer-reviewed journals and I taught many college classes as a graduate teaching fellow. My colleagues and I have recently submitted a paper for review, surprising me with the opportunity to be a coauthor ten years after completing my Master’s thesis.

When I pulled into the parking lot by the baseball field at Philip and Sala Burton High School the morning of September 2nd, 2014, the first person I recognized was Ben Trefny with his bicycle, his head wrapped in bandannas, chatting with the security personnel at the gate. I walked into the main door of the station, standing rather aimlessly, until I was directed by the producer of Your Call to the next set of doors, which led me to the newsroom. As people arrived we introduced ourselves to each other, and I was soon able to put faces to voices that I had heard on Crosscurrents for some time now.

It was pretty great to meet the other interns. There are documentary filmmakers and hospice nurses, community arts collective managers and former senate interns, StoryCorps facilitators and former Google employees… all in all, an impressive bunch of interesting people. I wondered briefly whether I was qualified to be here.

The orientation was conducted over two busy days, that Tuesday the 2nd and then Thursday the 4th of September. We toured the station, learned fundamentals of sound gathering, had a ProTools tutorial, sat in on to observe Your Call, KALW’s morning listener participation and current events program, and discussed ethics… At first, I was too excited to take notes, but gradually I warmed back up to being in an educational setting, and with every day I’ve gotten more excited by the opportunities that this internship will provide.

It has been exciting to get the AM digest every day, and to start trying to “think in radio,” wondering how stories might have a sound component and how they would work in a setting such as Crosscurrents. This morning I sat in on my first newsroom conference call, and got to see how news stories from the AM digest are discussed.

I was excited to get to interact with my mentor here at the Audio Academy, news engineer Chris Hoff. I am already talking with him about an idea I’m gestating as a possible pitch idea, and can’t wait to learn more from him about sound design and editing.

After one week of the KALW Audio Academy, I’m itching to get into it more – I can’t wait to play with the microphones and digital recorders and work on learning how to “get tape,” or dive into ProTools tutorials, or make an Audiograph… anything to start to get closer to making my first ever story for radio. I can’t wait to get the skills to make radio journalism a reality and to see where my new skill-set can take me.

Who’s Colin Peden?
Colin Peden is a longtime public radio listener and a first time intern. He is a bassist and musician active on the San Francisco music scene. In a previous career, he studied evolution and worked in conservation biology. An avid walker, he commutes on foot every day to his job as a cooperative grocery store worker-owner in the Outer Sunset. Colin is interested in community and the stories that connect us. He also likes playing with analog recording equipment.

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