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Posted by on Aug 22, 2016 in ACE Learning Center, ACE Partners, Continuing Education | 0 comments

No Summer Vaca For KALW – Learning the Art of Radio Journalism is Full Time

By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Public Radio

Our Audio Academy is out of session, right now, but we’re just a few weeks away from welcoming the Class of 2017. They start up on September 6th with a couple days of orientation, but meanwhile we’ve been training many other people at KALW on the art and craft of radio journalism. We actually worked with a full dozen summer trainees who became part of our newsroom for up to four months. It was really a great group of people — I think our years of working with fellows in our Audio Academy has gotten us better at choosing candidates — and they’re going to help the new Academy fellows transition in. If you’ve had the chance to listen to Crosscurrents in the last few weeks, you’ll have heard a lot of their work, and it’s been really excellent.

There’s a lot more to share, so let me get right to it!


Earlier in the summer, former Audio Academy fellow Jeremy Dalmas (’14) led three high school interns on a formal, six-week quest to make awesome radio stories. Last week the fruits of those labors came through:

Lowell High School’s Gabriel Chen made a smashing story called San Francisco native and Olympian brings badminton up to speed .
Burton High School’s Jacky Chiu recorded some fierce audio for the transportation piece Dragons on Lake Merced.

Immaculate Conception’s Samaria Pineda made a cultural connection with the story For young Bay Area mariachis, music is a family.

It was a pleasure to hear these stories, to work with these students, and to see how well they responded to Jeremy’s teaching. Right on!


We’ve hired one of last year’s Audio Academy graduates, Eli Wirtschafter (’16), to be our new part-time transportation beat reporter. He did such amazing work with his whole show last year, about new ideas for smarter buses, expensive express lanes and other innovations around the Bay Area, he was a perfect fit for this new job.

That reminds me, too, that we had a lot of final projects from Audio Academy fellows air since I last contributed to this blog. Check some of these stories out:

Geraldine Ah-SueInherited trauma: Cambodian-Americans and the legacy of the Khmer Rouge.

Lisa BartfaiA new kind of battery.

Luisa CardozaThe gender-neutral bathroom debate

Tammy DrummondFrom tough neighborhoods to life saving health careers.

Truc NguyenSound healing.

What a brilliant bunch of people! Every fellow in our Academy worked so hard last year, and that’s really paid off with the acquisition of a marketable and meaningful skill-set, as you can hear. We’re very proud of them all.


Then there’s this: I got a lovely note a few weeks back, regarding a story Liz Pfeffer (’14) made about : How homeless women deal with their periods.

Hello KALW Studios! My name is Liliana Ascencio and I am a Merced College Student. I have recently realized the seriousness of the struggle homeless women face every month with the coming of their period. I understand that these products are very necessary, yet limited. In combating this issue I have organized a branch in my community of Merced, CA for The Homeless Period. I aim at collecting as many feminine products, such as pads, tampons, ect. and distributing to as many homeless shelters around my area as I can. I have read your article on this very issue and would like to use it in hopes that people will realize the seriousness of it, just as I have. Thank you for your time. It would be great to hear back from you.

I got back to her. And KALW will be part of her work educating people about this important issue!

Similarly, I got a call from somebody from Delivering Innovation in Supportive Housing (DISH) in San Francisco, who found me after hearing The Intersection, a podcast series from David Boyer (’14). Considering the extensive work we’ve done on homelessness, she was looking to partner with us in recording oral histories alongside a team of documentarians at a supportive housing complex in the city. Ultimately, there will be a presentation at the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library, and we’ll air some of those conversations on Crosscurrents. We’re very invested in providing this kind of public service


Finally, we’ve been taking steps to do bigger and better things with our website at KALW and our social media outreach. One of the things we’ve done is create a better landing page for people interested in learning about our Audio Academy. Doesn’t that make you want to check it out? Do it! Just click here!

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