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Posted by on Dec 10, 2019 in ACE Learning Center, Continuing Education | 0 comments

Uncuffed Named a NY Times Recommended Listen and Audio Academy Fellow is Discovering the Silicon in Silicon Valley

By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW, Listener Supported Public Radio

We just got some extremely exciting news at KALWUncuffed, the show produced out of our prison training programs, was just named a recommended listen by the New York Times!

The Uncuffed team at San Quentin and Solano state prisons.
Credit: Photo montage created by Eli Wirtschafter.

Reviewer Phoebe Lett wrote, “Incarcerated men at San Quentin and Solano State Prison have joined forces to produce this moving new show. They take turns interviewing each other — stories run the gamut from forgiving abusive fathers to finding peace through yoga. Then following each story is a collective reflection on it, as the men challenge each other’s ideas of masculinity and offer reassurances that their childhood traumas are not their fault.”

Thanks so much to ACE for its support in helping us with our work in prisons, at the station, and in communities all around the Bay Area, with people from so many walks of life!

One of those people is Sarah Lai Stirland, a fellow in our current Audio Academy class. Here are some thoughts she wanted to share:

Sarah Lai Stirland (L) and David Boyer talk about a story in the KALW newsroom.
Credit: Ben Trefny.

There’s a piece of paper that I’ve kept through my career because I was so struck by the concepts and goals that were printed on it. I try to keep them in mind as I pursue my stories.

The piece of paper lays out the Atlantic Media Chairman David G. Bradley’s criteria for various kinds of editorial awards he handed out every year. There was one that I didn’t fully understand when I first saw it. It said: “Spirit of Generosity.” I worked in the cut-throat environment of the Washington D.C. press corps — the idea of having a “Spirit of Generosity” wasn’t one that was discussed much on a daily basis, generally.

However, I’ve learned much more about the “spirit of generosity” quite a bit in subsequent years because I’ve been the beneficiary of it. That’s especially the case at KALW. Every single person I’ve met in the KALW newsroom is keenly interested in seeing each of the Audio Academy fellows succeed, grow wings and fly. In fact, I feel that they have a sense of urgency about it. They all listen and want to help you gain the skills that they have, and then they want to see what you come up with.

I’m incredibly grateful for the faith and trust that they’ve put in us, and it makes me want to work hard to prove that they’re not wrong.

So far, I’ve found that radio is a much more complex medium than print. I’ve found it to be a great medium in which to play, yet technically, it is also very challenging. There’s more room to be creative, but there are also more steps involved in making your idea into a finished piece of work!

There are many things that make KALW a unique workplace. One of the most important ones that all professional workplaces would benefit and learn from is the incredibly diverse range of people that work here.

The varied perspectives coming from the diverse life experiences in our class and at the station make for fruitful discussions when we’re workshopping story ideas. There are many examples to draw from, but one quick one: When I was confronted with the prospect of creating a story explaining why Silicon Valley is called Silicon Valley, I groaned and rolled my eyes in an editorial meeting. However, to my great surprise, 95 percent of the room really did not know why Northern California has that moniker. So they inspired me to really dig into it.

Digging into the details revealed the mind-blowing scientific discoveries that took us down a path of exponential change.

Now I think I have an excellent story for KALW and the Bay Area on the history of the iconic name, and as Americans say, I’m pretty “stoked” about it.

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