KALW Audio Academy Student Decides: “This Must Be the Place.”
By Guest Bloggers Ben Trefny and Chris Hambrick
Ben Trefny, Executive Editor, KALW News
This week we started working with Audio Academy members on an individual basis. We split up the group pretty evenly, with no more than three trainees in on a given day. That allows us to give more attention to each one and start to develop relationships with them.
We took the opportunity this week at the beginning of our station’s membership drive to invite our new reporters to go behind-the-scenes: they went into the phone room and met volunteers; into the on-air studio to see live pitching; into the engineering booth to watch our sound designers build stories and shows from scratch. All the while, they acclimated to our unique environment and listening to stories across the public radio spectrum.
As we get to know our terrific class, we thought it would be nice for ACE Spectrum readers to learn about these students as well. For the next ten weeks, we’ll share what they have to say about the start of their Audio Academy experience.
Chris Hambrick, KALW Audio Academy Student
Coming from a family of natural born storytellers, I grew up imitating funny sounds and interesting voices, spitting out sound bites and walking around with a constant musical soundtrack in my head. I made my living in the visual arts but on the side was collecting a bunch of disparate sound and word skills that I had no idea how to combine. I wrote short stories, did a little voiceover work, bought an audio recorder and often harassed friends for firsthand accounts, or just taped the sounds of the world around me as I moved through it.
A chance encounter at a happy hour fundraiser for my arts collective Rock Paper Scissors, landed me a seat next to public interest reporter Laura Flynn. She gave me a business card with a photo of a Marantz recorder, headphones and a notebook on it, and I knew I wanted a life like hers. She suggested that I apply to KALW’s Audio Academy to learn more.
On orientation day, I walked into the outpost-like KALW newsroom, a repurposed physics room on the edge of Philip and Sala Burton High School in San Francisco. I met a rag-tag group of characters that were as sparkly-eyed about us as we were about them. I thought “This must be the place,” as the Talking Heads song of the same title played in my head. These were reporters who weren’t afraid to take a work break to record a video tribute in full 60’s gear, costumes and wigs. I immediately felt at home.
During the two days of orientation, I learned that there was a fit for someone like me who had all of these interests that seemed incongruous. I listened to sessions on Pro Tools, research, miking techniques, and marketing lead by the station’s engineers, reporters, editors and producers. I sat, bubbling on the inside, as News Director, Ben Trefny, told us about KALW’s focus on engineering sonically rich stories.
I thought I had finally found my tribe, people as obsessed as I was, with collecting interesting sound. I can’t wait to learn more about journalism basics and how to turn my various pieces into a beautiful whole.
Who’s Chris Hambrick?
Chris Hambrick is a wordsmith and artist who builds community through the arts. She is the marketing director for Friends of Peralta Hacienda Historical Park, a facilitator with StoryCorps, and a managing member of Rock Paper Scissors, an Oakland based community arts collective. In her spare time, she runs the audio blog White Rabbit Story Hour and enjoys Oakland life with her husband and two fluffy cats.