Honors Pile Up For KALW Audio Academy Grads and Undergrads
By Guest Bloggers Ben Trefny and Olivia Cueva
Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW
This week, some of our Audio Academy students and alums were honored for their radio work.
Charlotte Silver (class of ’14) was part of a KALW team to receive the Northern California Society of Professional Journalists’ “Explanatory Journalism” award for the series “The New Gold Rush“, which explores the impact of the tech economy on San Francisco’s housing market and non-profit sector.
KALW also received an award for “Investigative Journalism” for the documentary “The Race to An Emergency” exploring allegations that the 911 emergency response system in Oakland does not work as effectively for African Americans. And KALW’s partnership with inmates from San Quentin State Prison in producing “The San Quentin Prison Report” was honored with the “Community Journalism” award. We’re extremely excited about the recognition, and very happy for Charlotte in earning her first radio prize!
Todd Whitney (class of ’14) had his work on the push for a living wage recognized by the San Francisco Public Press, which featured one of his interviews in their latest edition. The story was part of an entire Crosscurrents program that Todd and I put together last year. This week, he completed his first two stories as a paid reporting fellow for KALW: one is a piece previewing the Richmond mayoral election, which he worked on with current Audio Academy member Alexis Luna-Torres; another is a story about illegal dumping in Oakland.
The other honor of note is bittersweet for us. Audio Academy member Lisa Misitzis was offered a job with The Takeaway, a national morning show from Public Radio International and WNYC in New York City. She will be taking that job and moving across the country at the end of November. Lina told me the decision was difficult to leave KALW, because she loves the mentoring, creativity, and team, but the job opportunity was just impossible for her to pass up at this point in her career. We knew she was a superstar when we accepted her into the Audio Academy, and we wholeheartedly look forward to seeing how her work in radio evolves.
Lina’s spot in the Audio Academy will be filled by somebody who was on our waiting list. Liza Veale writes for the blog Oakland Local, and she volunteered with us this summer, producing a 40-minute program about affordable housing with me. She’s a diligent journalist, a tenacious worker, and a very engaging personality. She’s going to fit right in.
This week, we’ll get to know Audio Academy member Olivia Cueva, who happens to be Liza’s cousin.
By Olivia Cueva, KALW Audio Academy Student
I remember getting into in the car with my mom when I was 8 years old. I remember her starting the ignition, the radio coming on, and me slamming it off after hearing just a few seconds of dry, boring people talking. These car rides were the beginning of my relationship with public radio.
Later, when I had a dream of becoming a morning radio announcer like Chuy Gomez on KMEL (I still have that dream by the way), I joined Youth Radio where I was told that my voice and story mattered. This idea stuck with me and was my incentive to join StoryCorps in recording unheard stories of people across the U.S.
Today, 10 years since I first read a PSA live on the air at KPFA, I don’t automatically switch the radio off when the NPR news hour comes on. Still, I don’t hear enough content outside of the liberal-white-middle-aged bubble that makes up most of public radio. There is a lack of interest in creating content that will reach folks who normally switch the dial.
The first week of the Audio Academy exceeded all of my expectations and got me excited about journalism again. I mean it. Not only is the team committed to recording marginalized stories and expanding their audience outside of the public radio bubble, they encourage experimentation and craft their stories with a heavy emphasis on sound design. It’s like an answer to all of my radio prayers!
Though I’ve worked with Pro Tools a lot, the one-hour intro session with news engineer, Chris Hoff, answered questions I didn’t even know I had. Throughout the program I want to invest focus into sound design and engineering – my goal is to be a little Jad Abumrad (host and creator of Radiolab) when I graduate. I’m really excited to join such a welcoming community of radio journalists and sound designers.
Who’s Olivia Cueva?
Olivia Cueva has been running around with audio equipment since she was 14-years-old. She is a south Berkeley native passionate about producing journalism that gives people the tools to tell their own stories. She received her Bachelor of Science in Broadcast Journalism at Brooklyn College and is currently a facilitator at StoryCorps.