The KALW Audio Academy Progresses on Learning How to Make Audio Conversations
By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Public Radio
The Audio Academy is currently working on a group project to report stories about the Portola neighborhood just down the hill from KALW. First draft scripts are due in the next few weeks, and the pieces should be airing near the start of 2017.
Meanwhile, several Academy fellows have produced some nice pieces outside of the assignment base:
Josiah Luis Alderete and I reported this story about the closing of the iconic Modern Times bookstore in San Francisco’s Mission District.
Jeremy Jue, Cari Spivack and Boawen Wang helped me make this documentary contextualizing Colin Kaepernick‘s protests of police brutality during the playing of the National Anthem. Specifically, Jeremy made this non-narrated piece about the Oakland Unified School District Honor Band taking a knee while playing the anthem, and Boawen and Cari spoke with people at Mission High School and Castlemont High School to talk about how Kaepernick’s statements have affected their football teams.
This week, we’ll teach a seminar on voicing. Recent weeks have focused on audio engineering and writing for radio. By the end of 2016, the fellows should have the complete set of basic skills in place, ready for production on their Portola series.
I did KALW’s Audio Academy from 2013-2014, then I leveled up as a reporter/producer until July 2015.
I’ve been a producer at Audible since January 2016. It’s been a good experience so far in that I’m working on projects that are really different from the work I produced at KALW, but I’m deploying many of the same skills. The primary project I’m working on is an audio documentary on Bernie Madoff and the fallout for his victims after his 2008 confession. The project is so dissimilar from any of the issues I reported on at KALW, but the tenacity it takes to report/produce a story for over a year is something I harnessed in multiple stories while working at KALW. The good stuff takes time to develop.
Thoughts from current Academy fellow Jeremy Jue:
I’ve been thinking about community a lot lately, what a healthy community looks like and how it is formed, and after three months as an Audio Academy fellow I can honestly say that the community formed at KALW is a fantastic model. The team here is diverse, committed, and intentional with the stories that they report. They bounce ideas off of one another, share information freely, and make a conscious effort to provide voice to the people of the San Francisco Bay Area. In doing so, they have created a culture of collaboration and joy. A place where it is clear that everyone who works here cares deeply about their work, but also about one another. This makes for an incredibly welcoming environment. It is also a great place to grow.
As I grow, and continue my journey with KALW, finding and developing my own voice, I am grateful for the nurturing environment that this community provides. Even when I am challenged by a task or assignment, I always feel safe. Safe to ask questions, and safe to share my insecurities and anxieties without feeling judged. This type of exchange helps immensely. It builds my confidence, makes feel supported, and often times helps me find my focus so that I can contribute in a more impactful way.
In conclusion, I am excited to have the opportunity and be a part of the KALW Audio Academy. I am inspired by the people I work with and the community that they have formed. With their help and guidance, I look forward to producing stories that inform, represent, and generate conversations in the community we all call home, the San Francisco Bay Area.