KALW Audio Academy and News Team Reporting Helped the Election Make Sense to KALW’s Audience
By Ben Trefny, KALW Interim Executive Director
We’re just over a week past Election Day. I think at this point, it must be the most collectively stressful day in the United States! But KALW, with huge help from our trainees, helped make sense of it all for our audience.
On Election Night, backed by our news team, Sonia Paul and Audio Academy mentor Sunni Khalid hosted live state and local interviews and results to complement NPR’s national coverage of the midterms.
Participants included Rose Aguilar, Audio Academy fellows Andrew Saintsing and Mary Catherine O’Connor, reporters from other media outlets, and community stakeholders. Audio Academy graduates Shereen Adel and Victor Tence, who oversee our training programs, helped out behind the scenes.
Bringing our reporters live on the air reminded me how things were pre-pandemic. We were providing live newscasts on the daily, with Academy fellows engaging in one-on-one conversations with our announcers, to connect more conversationally with our audience. As we continue to pivot toward a new form of normalcy, we’ll keep opportunities like that in mind.
I asked Academy Fellow Priscilla Ankrah to share some thoughts about her experience so far in KALW’s Audio Academy:
Reflecting on this beautiful whirlwind that has been Audio Academy, I am overwhelmingly filled with gratitude, joy, and wonder.
This experience has been such a blessing. From the wealth of knowledge and support I get in Sunni Khalid, my mentor, to the everyday support and wisdom from editors, engineers, and producers like Victor Tence, Shereen Adel, Lisa Morehouse, Marissa Ortega-Welch, and James Rowlands.
When Audio Academy first began, I was so nervous about recording on the mic and being comfortable with my voice. With all the mentorship, and the love I receive in the growing friendships in our cohort, I feel empowered to be exactly who I am.
There have however, been some challenges. Balancing work, and the financial cost of transportation are some of heaviest lifts in this experience. We are living in a time where the price of everything — from gas, bridge tolls, food, etc. — have shot up. There have been times when I have more month than money, and I have had to sacrifice daily expenses to cover transport to the office. I think a stipend for travel could go a very long way to making this experience accessible for working class folk.
I am, however, dreaming in full color through this experience. And I am blessed.