No Summer Slowdown for KALW – Hot is Making it Happen and Continuing to Tune In
By Guest Blogger Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Public Radio and Allison Lee, KALW Summer Volunteer
We’re about halfway through our summer session here at KALW, and we’ve got a lot of exciting new work underway:
– Former Audio Academy member Raja Shah is working on a weekly podcast built on Crosscurrents material. He’s made a couple of pilots so far, and we’re honing in with focus groups on what our Bay Area audience would be most interested in hearing. Targeting a rollout in early September. It should be fun and help us tap into the growing audience for weekly podcasts that shows like KALW’s 99% Invisible are quickly building.
– One of our primary editors, Casey Miner, launched a new KALW podcast called The Specialist. It’s a chance to get to know people working in very specialized professions. Casey is a brilliant, warm, creative storyteller – qualities that she brings to her edits with all of our trainees – and this is a great forum to show off her skills. Check it out!
– We received a grant from the California Arts Council to create a new weekly program and podcast called “Sights and Sounds of the Bay Area” in which Jen Chien will talk with a different artist each week to talk about what cultural events they’re interested in each week. Former Audio Academy member Ted Muldoon will engineer the show, which is sure to be sound rich, beautiful, and fascinating. We’re looking at a launch in early September for that as well. Additionally, our “Sights and Sounds” brand will extend in 2016 with “Sights and Sounds of East Oakland” – a live storytelling and performance event that will take place in the spring. We’re partnering with the Oakland Tribune‘s citizen journalism training program called Oakland Voices who will help us find and tell the stories of artists and leaders who bring joy and vitality to the community.
While that’s all going on, we’re airing Crosscurrents every Monday through Thursday, with the help of our four daily line producers, all of whom took part in our Audio Academy: Liz Mak, Jeremy Dalmas, Liza Veale, and Hannah Kingsley-Ma. We’ve also got the help of a group of terrific new summer volunteers, whom we’re training to make radio pieces, along with some members of our Audio Academy who stuck around to make some more stories. I thought I’d share some of their work with you:
– Timothy Lou Ly made a piece looking into different generational perceptions of San Francisco’s Japantown.
– Chris Hambrick made a story about how some people are converting shipping containers into homes, despite potential hazards to the health of themselves and their neighbors.
– Louise Codd looked deeply into how the media has distorted the perceptions of pit bulls, and what can be done to make interactions with dogs safer.
– Jessica Placzek explored the mysterious beachings of a form of sea life called Velella Velella.
– Todd Whitney made a story about the Richmond Police Department’s efforts to improve relations with its community. He also made three pieces about San Francisco’s dwindling African American Population through the eyes of an art’s collective and its work.
– Lezak Shallat walked with activists calling attention to health issues emerging from the East Bay’s refinery corridor.
– Lisa Bartfai told the story of the origin of San Francisco’s “Pink Saturday” which called attention to the AIDS crisis.
– Allison Lee prepared this Storycorps about an activist for disability rights who found a creative way to pursue non-violent demonstrations.
Allison is a very ambitious, smart, and talented sound engineer who just graduated from Lowell High School in the San Francisco Unified School District. She’s spending a few months with us before she attends San Francisco State University in the fall. Here are some thoughts she’d like to share:
By Allison Lee, KALW Summer Volunteer
Two and a half months ago, I was overdressed, clutching a folder of various job application documents and nervously fidgeting in the waiting area of KALW radio. I had missed the deadline for KALW’s Audio Academy and, desperately hoping my upfront initiative would at least make a good impression, I had gone directly to the station to beg for their consideration. I was met with the most welcoming atmosphere and people, which only reinforced my desire to somehow be involved with their work. Of course, I could not be considered for the Audio Academy program, as it is intensely competitive to get in in the first place. However, after talking to Ben Trefny that first time, I was told that I might be eligible to be a summer volunteer.
Today I am writing this blog entry from the Crosscurrents newsroom where I volunteer twice a week. Two cleaners came in this morning to inform us they would be shampooing the carpets later, to which Julie Caine responded with a dozen or so vehement, “We love you.” Then later, an afternoon softball break was initiated when Ben Trefny, in all his flipflopwearing glory, asked if we wanted to “go hit some balls.” These are the things I will remember most clearly about my time at KALW. It’s all work with a playful twist and though everyone is focused and contributing to the station, laughs are shared frequently and help is given readily. The atmosphere is welcoming and jovial as ever, and will continue to be whether or not I am there to witness it.
After all this is done, I will continue tuning in, as I’m sure you will too.