Learning to Define the “Face of Radio” at KALW Audio Academy
By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW, Listener Supported Public Radio
Last week, we brought our Audio Academy fellows over to our new Oakland offices at StudioToBe for a seminar on feature story production. It’s been great to have desk and conference space at a place that hosts producers from the podcast Snap Judgment(including Audio Academy graduates Liz Mak [’14] and Chris Hambrick [’15]), the nationally syndicated radio show Making Contact, and lots of independent podcast makers. We’re looking forward to building upon relationships we’ve got and forging new ones.
One of the students taking part in our lesson, taught by KALW‘s teaching coordinator Marissa Ortega-Welch, was Victor Tence. We’ll continue our in-person introductions to our new fellows with a few words he wrote about his experience in the Audio Academy so far:
Do I have a face for radio?
I asked this question as a quip, but it was more or less my charming way to let my friends know about my upcoming time with KALW’s Audio Academy. However, despite the wide range of responses, from supportive, to enthusiastically insulting, I realized I myself couldn’t picture who belonged on the air.
What does public radio’s face look like?
Up until my first week in KALW’s office, it would have been difficult for me to say, though I certainly had my suspicions. Before, had I been made to guess, I would have predicted a work space that greeted you with two racks, one for coats and the other for your NPR tote bag. I could envision mornings of radio people asking about each other’s breakfast, for personal and professional reasons.
I will not say that my prediction was completely wrong, it was however woefully incomplete. Which is to be expected, considering how ethereal audio can be as a medium. Public radio itself, and the people behind the considerable work that goes into the production, can be just as invisible as the radio waves that carry their voices.
I still cannot recognize the titans of the craft like Terry Gross or Ira Glass on the street. Furthermore, radio is elusive and hard to pin down in a whole host of other ways. Where do I find this intersection where news is informative, concise and complete, as well as conversational, full of personality and ultimately human?
As it turns out, KALW’s Audio Academy, nestled discreetly behind a high school and between a quiet park that silently boasts sweeping views of Hunter’s point is a wonderful place to begin looking.