Winter Season Brings Hope, Awards and Community to KALW and Audio Academy Members
By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW, Audience Supported Public Media and Wren Farrell, Audio Academy ‘21
Winter is upon us. Despite the largely dreadful year we’ve worked through, I feel like this final season is one of hope. Perhaps it’s the COVID-19 vaccine that just started to be distributed. Perhaps it’s because I know we can come together to overcome extraordinary challenges. I’ve seen it. Altogether, we’ve seen it all this year, and there’s reason for optimism.
I just spent many hours reflecting on the ACE Spectrum blog posts KALW has produced throughout the year, and it sure has been a busy one. Thanks, as always, to ACE for the extraordinarily generous and open-hearted support that makes our work as journalists training journalists possible. It’s more reason for hope, and it continues to ripple out farther and farther.
To that point, we recently received uplifting news. Audio Academy graduate Christine Nguyen (’18) was honored with an award from the Asian American Journalism Association. She won the AAPI Excellence prize for her story Vietnamese Immigrants Care For Parents With Dementia, Amidst Stigma.
ABOUT THE PROJECT: Infused with personal experience and heartfelt storytelling, Christine Nguyen’s audio reporting explores dementia and its surrounding stigma, as well as the disproportional impact it has on Asian communities. Through the intimate relationship with a Vietnamese immigrant family, Nguyen breaks down the intricacies surrounding the condition from its causes to the responses currently in place.
JUDGES’ REMARKS: Nicely produced piece, with natural weaving of current and past events together. I imagine finding a Vietnamese family that was willing to open themselves up to interview for this piece and building that trust with them was not easy. It deftly avoids similar podcast pratfalls that turns the subject and viewer relationship into one that is patronizing, overly preachy, or overly dramatic. Overall, this was well done and holds its gravitas on multiple listens.
Congratulations, Christine! We’re very proud, and excited to rebroadcast that story for our audience in early January. Incredibly, that’s just a few weeks away.
One of our current Audio Academy fellows is Wren Farrell. He’s been doing a wonderful job reporting spots, including:
Now, I have the pleasure of editing a feature he’s currently making about a farmer in Davis, and how she’s been dealing with the pandemic.
Here are some thoughts from Wren about his experience with us so far:
When I was accepted into KALW’s Audio Academy I had no idea what to expect. I’d watched as COVID-19 changed industries all around me, some adapting easily to remote work, others being virtually destroyed. I was nervous that I wasn’t going to be able to do my job as well, or that my experience in the Audio Academy was going to be compromised in some way. I was worried I wasn’t going to learn as much, or as quickly, as I wanted to, or that my relationship to the mentors, teachers, and other fellows was going to feel shallow and unaffecting. That I’d regret my decision to stay in the Bay, despite its new limitations.
Fortunately, my fears and doubts were all completely unfounded. KALW has done a tremendous job of adapting its teaching program to being remote. The teachers and mentors are accomplished, kind, and patient people. I leave each newsroom day with a sense of accomplishment and excitement to work more in the future. I look forward to our weekly seminars not only because of what I have been getting out of them, but also because of how much fun it is to spend time with a group of like-minded people, learning about things that we are all interested in.
Quarantining has been hard. I miss seeing my friends and family. I miss doing things, and going out, and talking to strangers. I miss bars and restaurants and movie theaters. I miss getting hugged. While the Audio Academy doesn’t replace all that, it’s become a source of community that I desperately, desperately needed. It’s become a source of grounding, an escape from the unending monotony that has been this year. I am so grateful for the time that I’ve spent at KALW, and I am excited for what’s to come.