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Posted by on Oct 6, 2014 in ACE Learning Center, ACE Partners, Continuing Education | 0 comments

KALW Audio Academy Isn’t Just About the Tools, It’s Also About Collaboration

By Guest Bloggers Ben Trefny and Lina Misitzis

Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW

Audio Academy members Jack Detsch and Alexis Luna-Torres answer phones during KALW's membership drive.

As we reach the first month anniversary of the new Audio Academy, I think the trainees are starting to feel like an integral part of our news team. They’ve been trained, now, on pitching stories, interviewing subjects, recording sound, and engineering their audio. They’re working closely with their individual mentors, and this week they chose beats that they’ll follow for the year. The topics reflect the diversity of our group, with subjects including urban renewal, women’s issues, youth stories, conservation, and health care.

We also hosted our first all Academy event, this week, with an after hours newsroom potluck. Almost all the members attended, along with most of our staffers, and KALW’s development director and station manager. After we ate, drank, and socialized, we went around the room, sharing stories about the most memorable moments we’d heard in public radio. It was great to hear what kind of work inspires our trainees, and we’re looking forward to helping them make pieces that will similarly inspire others.

This week, we’re showcasing Lina Misitzis, and her thoughts upon starting the Audio Academy.

Lina Misitzis, KALW Audio Academy Student

I’m Lina Misitzis, and I’m a writer and radio hopeful living in Oakland. I majored in creative writing at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and have known, for years, that I want to make things. When I first moved to New York as a teenager, I was telling people, “I’d like to work in magazines.” A year later, after interning at a magazine, I wanted to work in TV. “I love TV more than anything,” I would say. “I want to make TV.” After a year of interning in television, and ultimately spending my first year out of college working at a network, I landed on the real thing. The best thing. Radio.

Problem is, I still don’t know how to make my own radio story, start to finish, completely and totally by myself. Anything I’ve made so far has required a lot of hand-holding and advice from other people.

So that’s why I applied to the Audio Academy. I really want to learn more about audio engineering, specifically on ProTools, and this was a free and low-stakes way to do that. My other option was signing up for an intensive training program, that’d cost a lot of money and require leaving California for several months. With KALW, I can focus on the things I really want to get better at, make stories that’ll end up on the radio(!) while I’m at it, and get to know some of the coolest radio makers in my immediate community. It was a no-brainer.

But here’s the amazing thing I learned after a couple weeks with KALW: no one there makes anything from start to finish, completely and totally by themselves. The team weighs in. Groups of producers listen to each other’s stories together, and critique accordingly. Engineers give reporters advice. Reporters invite volunteers to join them in edits. Everyone is asked to chime in on the morning conference calls. And on and on. I understood, in theory, that stations are a collaborative place. But I had never seen it in practice, and something tells me that KALW isn’t like most stations.

Orientation was extremely welcoming. We were given the space and chance to meet everyone, see everything, and sit in on a lot of the daily goings-on. We were introduced to a lot of the basic parts of producing a radio story; like pitching, recording, interviewing, and mixing. Each part of our orientation was lead by a different member of KALW team. And Ben, the News Director, was with us all along, answering questions and including us in conversation.

My first week after orientation was great, albeit out of the ordinary. It was membership week at the station, and my mentor was out sick, but Ben did a really great job stepping in and clarifying things, as well as offering options for things to do. We spent an hour going over KALW’s philosophy on membership drives, sat in on some on-air pitches, and spent the last hour of the day taking phone calls from donors.

I spent some of that last hour talking to sound engineer Chris Hoff about ProTools, and I have to say: that’s still what I’m most excited about. I plan on sitting in on as much of his and sound engineer Seth Samuel’s work as I can. I have other goals too, like focusing on script writing, and my radio “voice”, but ProTools continues to take the cake.

Who’s Lina Misitzis?

Audio Academy student Lina Misitzis

Lina Misitzis joins the Audio Academy after a year of managing the Mule Radio Syndicate in San Francisco. Previously, she produced the White House-honored podcast DecodeDC, worked as a PA for The Rachel Maddow Show, and was an NBC page in New York. Lina received her BFA in Writing from the Pratt Institute.

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