KALW Summer Intern “Bboy” Learns the “Foundation” of Telling His Breakdancing Story from the “Crew” at Crosscurrents
This summer, KALW public radio, an ACE Continuing Education Partner, hosted four interns from Burton High School where the station is based. Working with senior editor Casey Miner and all of the station staff, they learned about everything that goes into producing a feature radio piece, from conceiving an idea to recording interviews, writing scripts, and sound engineering. KALW is airing their pieces this week.
Third intern up: Ben Vu. Check out his story, as well as his reflections on his “amazing” summer experience.
By Ben Vu
I was first introduced to KALW through my Information Technology class at school. Casey came into my class and gave us a brief presentation about sound. I thought that it was really interesting because I’ve always had a problem with sound in the videos that I make.
Eventually, one of our “field trips” brought us to the radio station itself. What I expected to see when I first walked through the door was that it would be like one of those news
offices I remember seeing on cartoons like in The Spectacular Spider-man. But what I saw surprised me. It was a room full of people sitting in chairs and working on their laptops. There were a bunch of cables running over the floor; weird black rectangular boxes that had these foam-like spikes sticking out of them; and three clocks right next to each other that appeared to disagree. It seemed like a very chaotic place. Our class then moved on to the studio, where I found things to be much more neat and more like what I envisioned in my head.
When I started working as an intern, I found myself in the super messy and chaotic room that was the station. However, I got used to it. Soon, the station wasn’t messy anymore, but endearing. The little things around the room weren’t random things, they were intricacies that made the station what it was. Little quirks that make the room feel cozy, like a collage of belongings that people have left here.
I found the people at the station very interesting. Everyone had a colorful personality that allowed me to talk with them. Everyone was open and I felt extremely comfortable. It also seemed like everyone had their own little thing that made them interesting.
One of the most interesting things I’ve done with my time here is to spend time shadowing people, such as the sound engineers. It’s really interesting to see how they put the show together so quickly and efficiently, and the choices they make when they choose the type of music to use. I’ve also learned one of the more grueling type of works: transcribing. It takes a looong time to fully transcribe the tape you have – I can’t imagine what people would do when they have like 2 or 3 hours of tape. The cool thing I got to do was to edit sound on an audio editing software called Pro Tools. It was a really great experience doing that because I got to actually make something. Just the feeling of putting something together – editing it and refining it, knowing that you made something sound good, is really satisfying.
The work I’ve done here has also involved a lot of listening. There were a lot of great podcasts that I got to listen to, and I really got into listening to things carefully. I started noticing the edits in a radio piece more often, and I caught a lot more sound as well. To be honest, I think my hearing has become much more acute.
My major project while I was here has got to be the story about breakdancing in San Francisco. The project has been a great experience because it’s all hands-on. I collected the sounds, I did the interviews, and I logged the tape and I edited most of it! I really liked doing things myself; it was a great experience to build confidence, especially when interviewing strangers. I also got to sit in on a bunch of workshops where Executive Editor Ben Trefny showed us a couple of tricks to get the clearest sounding voice when tracking. I also recorded some things myself, which I thought was awesome.
I also really liked having Independent Producer Lisa Morehouse around when the Crosscurrents crew was on break, because she was really friendly and taught us a lot of details about writing a story. Her old-school methods and quirky personality made the experience really interesting. My time here at the station has been amazing, and I would definitely do it again if I could.
Here’s my story: Bay Area “Bboys” on what it takes to stay on top of their game