KALW Audio Academy Fellow Has Twins – Two Radio Babies For a Sex Ed Series
By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW and JoAnn DeLuna, Audio Academy ’19 Fellow
As we wind down toward the end of our time with the Audio Academy class of 2019, it’s been a pleasure to hear the fellows finishing up sophisticated and heartfelt stories. JoAnn DeLuna is one of those folks — she moved to San Francisco from New York to take part in the program. It’s my pleasure to let her talk about her work, in her own words:
I’d like to announce that while in Audio Academy — I had twins!
No, not actual babies — radio babies. My 2-part series on sex education finally debuted at the end of May. (You can hear part 1 by clicking here, and part 2 by clicking here.) It’s been a long labor of love and took nearly as long as having a child to produce. And as with most twin scenarios, I was not initially expecting two…
I first got the idea for the story right before moving to San Francisco for Audio Academy. While still in New York, I attended a panel discussion in August full of women techies who were doing interesting things around technology and access to sex education. One of them, O.school CEO Andrea Barrica, was based in San Francisco. After hearing her journey, I knew I had to do a story about what she and other women were doing in the sexual health wellness space. What a great coincidence that I was about to move there!
Having been a print journalist, I quickly envisioned the story in my mind, whom I needed to interview, and the different perspectives I’d capture. I went about getting lost in dozens of studies, statistics, and news articles about the detrimental effects of having abstinence-only sex education — or no sex ed at all. I also cringe-binged A LOT of vintage school sex ed films, watched Netflix’s entire Sex Education series when it was first released, and listened to a lot of R&B classics to help tell the story. In total, I interviewed about nine sources for the pieces and did a dozen more pre-interviews with people who didn’t make the cut.
I never imagined it’d take me as long as it would. The more I interviewed people, the bigger my story became, and the more it reinforced my inclination to do it. Almost everyone I spoke with had a similar storyline: Because the sex education at school or at home they received wasn’t comprehensive — and instead was based on shame and outdated ideas of relationships — it took them a long time to come to terms with who they were. Still, it motivated them to make a difference. It also solidified the notion that if you can teach kids to communicate about something as awkward as sex, it also teaches them to speak up at work and stop incidents of sexual harassment, as exemplified by the #MeToo movement.
It was a lot of information to fit into one 8-minute piece, so I was relieved when my editors agreed it should be two pieces. The most challenging aspect of producing the stories was creating scenes. I had been so focused on interviewing the right people, asking the right questions, and making sure the sound was good, that it was easy to forget about audibly portraying the fun and shocking aspects of people’s stories as they told them. But, with the help and guidance of my editors Jenee Darden and Ben Trefny, and sound engineers Gabe Grabin, James Rowlands, and Tarek Fouda, my stories came alive. Thank you!
Throughout this process, I was simultaneously working on my third feature, which I’m just as eager to share, about an incredibly special community for poets of color. I was also freelancing and figuring out my next steps after Audio Academy — no wonder the stories took me so long! In the end, I figured it out. I’m excited to announce that I’ll be returning to New York in July to be Radio Diaries’ first-ever fellow. I’ve always enjoyed creating long features, whether for print or radio, so I feel incredibly grateful to work with them to produce “extraordinary stories of everyday life” and hidden moments in history as told by last-surviving witnesses.
The past eight months have simply whizzed by — it only feels like three — and I can’t believe Audio Academy is nearly over. But it makes sense. I’ve undergone so much growth and transformation and have made so many beautiful connections here with people. I’m still so happy and grateful I made the decision to move my life from New York to San Francisco. The experience is allowing me to return to my city armed with new skills. No regrets!