Welcome – The KALW Audio Academy Class of 2020 Introduce Themselves
By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Public Radio, and the Audio Academy Class of 2020
This week, KALW’s Audio Academy class of 2020 gets started. We’ll have two days of orientation, and then they’re off and reporting! It’s my pleasure to present them, in their own words and photos:
Sona Avakian (she/her/hers) – You can pronounce my name Sona; it’s not as hard as you may think — long O. You might slip up and call me Sonya occasionally; it happens. I don’t have any radio experience, but I have some (very little) journalism experience. For a while I did a Q&A with authors and artists having events in SF for examiner.com and I’ve done a few interviews for The Rumpus. Issues that I’m interested in are: housing and the cost of living in SF; how to survive as an artist/musician in San Francisco; environmental issues; and local history. I’m looking forward to the Audio Academy.
Christopher Egusa (he/him/his) – I’m a mid-career (aka older millennial) East Bay native. My career has included video production, designing social impact programs, and brand strategy for purpose-driven organizations. I have some experience with radio/audio, including writing and producing video projects, and an internship at NPR, in which I was exposed to the business side of public radio while also getting to ditch the suit and dip my toes into the journalism end. I am most interested in stories around chronic illness and mental health — both the personal experiences of people, as well as the cultural landscape underpinning them. My own experience being diagnosed with a chronic illness a few years ago precipitated an internal shift in my identity and priorities, leading to a desire for a career change and to investigate some of these untold stories in all of their multidimensional fullness. I have plenty of other interests: music (I’m a longtime musician and lover of folk/bluegrass); social impact and business/technology; filmmaking; really excellent coffee and ice cream. Ultimately, I just can’t wait to help tell stories that matter!
Julia Llinas Goodman (they/them/theirs) – I’m a freelance writer and journalist, originally from Los Angeles, who has spent the past three years living and working in Brooklyn, New York. My experience so far has mostly been in digital journalism, including working as an editor for politics magazine Jacobin and writing for feminist blog The Establishment. My reporting interests include the uses and policing of public space, underground communities and solidarity economies, and other topics related to human movement, urban space, and civil rights. I also edit an architecture and politics zine called Take Shape and love watching horror movies, hiking and running outdoors, and listening to hip hop and dream pop music.
Precious J. Green (she/her/hers) – Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, I moved to the Bay Area in 2012 and haven’t looked back. Though my background and training are in law, I have pursued a different direction focused on community and connection. Currently I oversee use of space at the African American Art & Culture Complex. My radio and journalism experience is primarily as a huge fan, avid listener, and regular reader. That said, I love to hear and share the stories of the people I encounter every day. I look forward to transforming that interest from mere personal curiosity to engaging reporting and storytelling.
Imran Ali Malik (he/him/his) – I’m an audio producer with a background in medicine and religious studies, raised in Princeton, NJ, and currently live in Oakland with my wife and two children. As a former touring musician, I can’t help but bring a musical sense to hosting and audio production. My storytelling interest is primarily around cultures broad and small, as I see media as a form of cultural medicine. I currently produce an experimental podcast called American Submitter that tries to find points of harmony within the complexity of personal, family, and community life that are faced by Muslims devoted to their faith.
Joshua Sirotiak (he/him/his) – Hi. I’m a native of Chicago and Cleveland who moved to San Francisco in 2001. I’m a working tuba player, a father, and a self-proclaimed nerd who’s worked as a line cook, general contractor’s apprentice, substitute teacher, camp counselor, bar back and bouncer, and has spent nearly a decade and a half working for one upscale natural foods grocer in particular. In 2013, while living in Chicago, I participated in a seven week program run by vocalo.org (an affiliate of WBEZ) in which I produced a ten minute piece about Second Line music and culture. Currently primarily employed (musically) in Balkan Brass and Second Line styles, I’ve toured across the United States and Europe for audiences from all walks of life ranging in size from two to 20,000. I live and work in Sacramento, and my reporting interests include music as a lens into culture, race in the United States, technological solutions to climate change, and environmental sustainability/justice.
Sarah Lai Stirland (she/her/hers) – I’m a freelance journalist and editor living in Los Gatos. I’m new to radio, but I’ve wanted to learn more about telling stories in this medium for a long time. My reporting background is in technology, science writing, law, and policy. For the past few years, I’ve written about the issue of aging. I have a wide range of interests, and one of my developing ones is child development and parenting, but I’d also like to do a story for KALW on the few farmers left in Santa Clara County. I’m the mom of a 10-year old. I’m originally from Hong Kong and England.
Victor Tence (he/him/his) – My experience with journalism has been largely based in writing and photography. My audio experience is limited to a few student assignments and helping produce and interview for a podcast. I am now two years deep into my attempt to shift my career into journalism, leaving behind almost a decade of cooking in San Francisco. Consequently, I am passionate about covering the hospitality and food industry, as a way to advocate for the community I love and leverage my experience and network. I am excited to meet the rest of the fellows and the KALW team — journalists have never failed to be fascinating people.