Graduating Class of 2019 Audio Academy Learned to Make Great Radio Stories
By Martha Sessums, President, ACE
After nine months of work, the KALW Audio Academy Class of 2019 graduated on Tuesday, June 17. As Ben Trefny, KALW News Director, bragged, it’s the sixth graduating Audio Academy class and ACE can brag too as we have supported the Audio Academy since its inception.
A major part of the Audio Academy’s inception was driven by Holly Kernan, currently KQED’s Chief Content Officer. Six years ago, Holly was News Director at KALW. As a part of her focus on a public interest newsroom, she convinced the ACE board that it needed to support the Audio Academy as a part of ACE’s focus on education. A couple of years later, Holly moved to KQED but the Audio Academy continued to grow in excellence.
This year, Kernan was the Keynote Speaker at the graduation. Her focus was to give advice, and it ranged from “do work you believe in” to “don’t eat spinach salad at a business lunch.” (We all understand that green chunks stuck in teeth ruin a smile.)
There were lots of pieces of advice, but the ones that seemed to create the most nodding heads (beside the one about spinach salad) were:
1. The media tends to support the status quo in news, so question that status quo
2. Follow the golden rule
3. Sound way smarter (on radio) than you are
4. But do not copy someone else’s voice – be authentic and find your own voice
5. Write out loud – write into the paper so it sounds good on radio
6. Negotiate your salary when hired – it’s your best chance
7. Deal with rejection and failure by learning from it and pushing through
8. The key to gratitude is happiness
The way that the Audio Academy works is that each Fellow is assigned a Mentor. As Hana Baba, Host of Crosscurrents and MC of the graduation said, “All the work was done by the Radio Dulas.” The Dulas are the team of Fellow/Mentor and, as is tradition, each Mentor came on stage and introduced their Fellow by telling how it was to work with them and how they responded to the Audio Academy training. Each reflected the personalities of the Fellows and the Mentors, both funny and serious.
The eight Fellow’s presentations ranged from reading a poem to several touching thanks to parents in attendance to enthusiasm about “I said ass on the radio” to each Fellow having found their superpower. “AA equals Avengers Assemble – we’re here to dominate and take over,” said graduating Fellow Porfirio Rangel.
Proof that the Audio Academy works is that the majority of Fellows have professional jobs at radio stations from the local Bay Area to Atlanta or with nationally distributed radio programs or podcasts with national distribution.
As Baba said, “We make great radio.”
Congratulations to the Audio Academy Class of 2019: