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Posted by on Sep 22, 2014 in ACE Learning Center, ACE Partners, Continuing Education | 0 comments

KALW Audio Academy Student Wants to Become a Master Storyteller, Plus Praises the KALW Feral Cats

By Guest Bloggers Ben Trefny and Marlo McKenzie

Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW

This week we really started training in earnest with our ten Academy

Academy member Hannah Kingsley-Ma, left, works with Academy mentor Rachel Dornhelm and longtime KALW volunteer Melanie Young.

members. They started pitching stories and got in-depth training on sound recording techniques. They’ll put those into practice while outside of our studios, recording people from around the Bay Area saying where they’re from, so we can make community montages of voices to lead into Crosscurrents.

I have to say this year’s bunch of trainees is really fantastic people. They reflect the Bay Area’s diversity in so many ways, and that has already begun to affect the conversations around the news department. For example, we have a morning conference call that is a requirement for every Academy member coming into the station on a given day. However, there is so much enthusiasm in this class, several members have called in multiple times a week to take part, enriching the discussion and leading to more thorough consideration of the issues affecting the Bay Area.

This week, we’d like you to get to know documentary filmmaker Marlo McKenzie a little better. Here are her thoughts on the Academy, in her own (sometimes tongue-in-cheek) words:

Marlo McKenzie, KALW Audio Academy Student

My first impression of the KALW studios was glamour. Obviously. It’s a hidden oasis nestled at the back of Philip and Sala Burton High School, near a puppy mill and frequented by a band of handsome feral cats. And then there’s that warm fuzzy feeling you can only get when you’ve just spent eight hours in a clown car with twenty-five of your new beasties. Intimate is the word.

In our first weeks, I already learned a great deal. We had top quality introductions into the world of radio, ranging from journalism fundamentals, storytelling from pitch to completion, to pro-tools 101. I’m really looking forward to the next ten months learning from this talented team of storytellers.

My goal coming out of this program is to be able to work across documentary and radio, and improve my skills as a storyteller. In fact, I want to be a master storyteller. On my virtual grave when I die, I want it to read, “Marlo, Master Storyteller (Well, she tried really hard anyway).” I’ll posthumously be awarded a smiley sticker, a ribbon and trophy for my skills because everyone is a winner, especially when they’re dead.

All of this smiley sticker greatness starts at KALW. KALW is in fact, a place with a long tradition of firsts (as I recently learned from Roman Mars in a fundraising pitch that Ben played in our seminar.) To have a vision for a class like the Audio Academy, they are certainly among the first to recognize, and take action to bring diverse voices into media—even old people (read: anyone who has had a Botox injection and/or is over 28). Why? Because they know that not only can we old people burp, dig in our ear and eat ice-cream while watching reruns of I Love Lucy (multitasking), we also bring life experience into our workplaces.

I hope to draw from my life-experience to not only learn, but give back to KALW, just a tiny bit of what I’ve been given over the years from listening to their excellent programming. The team already knows about my skills as a body double. I can also make a mean vegan chocolate mousse and meditate very well. I plan to pitch a radio story rooted in this winning combination, something like — meditation and vegan cooking, while standing in your underwear, are great for well being. Maybe? (I’m still working out the details; it’s not fully formed.) I can’t wait for the feedback, and this chance to learn-by-doing. Which is how I learn best. (Who am I kidding, it’s the only way I’ve ever learned anything.)

Thank you KALW. I do not take this for granted.

Who’s Marlo McKenzie?

Marlo McKenzie, KALW Audio Academy student.

Marlo McKenzie is writer/filmmaker who grew up in metro Detroit. She’s studied language in France, worked in theater in Germany and co-founded a video production company that trains homeless youth in Australia. Since making San Francisco her home, she’s produced a beta iPhone app and walking tour for Devils Tower National Monument, and worked on documentary films including Standing on Sacred Ground and the web series Choice at Risk.

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