KALW Audio Academy Fellows Find Their Superpowers
By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW and Porfirio Rangel, Audio Academy Fellow
Our Audio Academy fellows have less than a month left before graduation, and they’re in heavy production on their final pieces. Here are a few that have recently aired:
The Bay Area is a roadkill hotspot – Kevin McLean
Another Audio Academy Fellow who’s been producing quite a lot of pieces has been Porfirio Rangel. And he recently had a very cool professional experience as well. Here he is to share that in his own words:
During my stint at Audio Academy, I learned what my radio production strengths are. While brainstorming ideas for my first feature, my mentor, Eli Wirtschafter, asked what my interests were. Let’s just say answers ranged between comics and drag queens to happy hour drinks and fashion. Maybe not the answers he was expecting. After throwing around a lot of ideas, he introduced me to KALW’s “Bay Area Beats.” This segment involves interviewing Bay Area artists about their work, influences, and connection to the Bay Area. My involvement improved my skills in writing pitches, communicating & audio editing. Creating these brought me joy and won me some bragging rights. Now with the program nearly ending comes the million-dollar question: What’s next after Audio Academy?
Several colleagues at KALW encouraged me to apply for an audio editor/producer position for season 2 of “Adult ISH” at Youth Radio. It’s a podcast that features celebrity guests who give advice about adult-related topics such as dating, race, or self-care. This was something that sparked my interests, and with my experience at KALW my confidence level was at an all-time high. Like Valentina, I was totally living in my own fantasy.
Shortly after turning in my application, I got an email from YR’s senior producer Davey Kim saying he wanted to schedule a phone interview about my application. During the interview, he said he was impressed with my application and ideas for the show. He said I didn’t get the job but asked if I was interested in helping prep the hosts with guests. At first, I was a little disappointed I didn’t get the position, but I was more excited that he wanted me to still be involved and help out with the podcast.
My first taste of the action came when Davey sent me a list of possible episode themes for the season. I had to send in pitches of possible guests that would fit for the categories. This was so up my alley. Then, my first radio project outside of KALW came about. Davey asked me to help the hosts prepare for their interview with Shan Boody, a popular YouTuber and certified sexologist for their “Relationship ISH” episode. Davey gave me the rundown of what I would be doing and soon he put me in contact with the hosts, Merk & Nyge. Afterwards, I had a three-way call with the hosts to brainstorm questions and how to structure the conversation.
Finally, came the day of the interview on Friday, May 17. While on the BART ride to Youth Radio, I was communicating via email with Davey and hosts about last minute changes with the prep sheet. Everything, from when I first got asked to help to that moment, was happening so fast. I was a ball full of emotions. Of course, I was nervous and excited, but overall I was just happy to be a part of the team. I got there a little early for a tour of the studio. It was cool getting to see editors use Pro Tools, recorders lying around, and hearing terms like “tracking” being casually used, terms I’d become familiar with at KALW. Back to the interview, I met up with Davey & Nyge to have one last run through with the script. Then it’s showtime.
The experience was crazy in the best possible way. Because of my time in Audio Academy, I’m so used to doing things in a certain manner. So at YR when things got changed up a bit it took me off guard, but I surprised myself how quickly I adjusted to the situation. As we made our way to the studio I learned that this three-person interview was going to be done in a call. One of the hosts was in the station with us, the other was in New York, and the guest was in Los Angeles. At this point, I’m just sitting back and letting Davey get everyone connected and set up the Pro Tools session. Even though my part of preparation was done, I still wanted to learn. So I observed how Davey set up the interview from connecting all parties to creating the Pro Tools session.
WOW! What a journey. Even though my role with the production was small, it was a huge level up for my confidence. I felt like my ideas were being heard. It was great belonging to a team that actually asked my help. When I first got asked to assist I was thinking, “Do you really want me to help? I don’t have that much experience!” But, honestly, if there’s anything I’ve learned taking into this transition into the radio world is that you have to be your biggest support. You have to believe in yourself.