KALW’s Summer Intern Report – Radio Training Part 1
ACE partners with local San Francisco public radio station KALW to support an after school, continuing education radio training program at Burton High School. Working in conjunction with Youth Radio’s training efforts, students learn interview and radio writing techniques and develop audio stories to be played on KALW’s local newsmagazine Crosscurrents. The goals are to bring the next generations’ voices to the air by cultivating future public radio talents and bring new perspectives to public radio. Here is the first report from one summer intern, Lupe Hernandez, and a note from her editor, Casey Miner.
Note from Casey Miner, Editor/Reporter:
Buffy Almendares and Lupe Hernandez are both rising seniors at Burton High School in San Francisco, home of KALW 91.7 local public radio. For the past few months they’ve spent their days in our newsroom, observing and participating in all aspects of producing our nightly newsmagazine, Crosscurrents. This means they’ve done research for stories; helped maintain the website; conducted and transcribed recorded interviews; cut and mixed interviews using digital editing software; and conceived, researched, reported, and written their own stories for air. Below are Lupe’s reflections on what she has done this summer. Buffy’s reflections are the topic for the next post.
Lupe Hernandez, 17
When I first got to KALW I expected the newsroom to be a lot more like what I saw as I sat in on Your Call, which is a live morning call-in show. Even though the news department’s shows aren’t live, the newsroom can sometimes be chaotic because of the pressure to get the show on the air, with all the pieces tracked, cut, and mixed, by 5pm every day.
At the station I’ve worked on a commentary about the changing culture in the Mission district that looked into the effects on the current culture of Latinos and Hispanics, as well as a feature about graffiti and why it seems like the city wants to get rid of all of it, even the pieces that seem more like art. My latest piece is a profile of Old Skool Cafe, a restaurant in the Bayview district that hires and is run by at-risk youth, in order to give them a chance to restore their lives and improve themselves.
While working on the pieces for the radio I’ve learned a lot of the things that go into making things sound good, such as the levels while you’re recording, how far or close your mic or recording kit should be from the person you’re interviewing, little tricks that make sure you don’t have sounds that are too loud and you can hear the person you are interviewing clearly, what ambient sound is, and how to use ProTools. Story structure in radio is almost completely different than the kind of writing I’m doing in school, but working on these pieces has helped me organize my writing. I’ve also learned a lot about how to incorporate the sounds from interviews and places I go to put into the final mix of a piece.
Going to different places to get sound and meet people to interview is one of the best and interesting thing to do. The most challenging thing has been learning to log interviews: Writing down everything that someone else has said, word for word, when you can’t slow down the talking, takes up a lot of time. I’m just glad I’m not the only one who has trouble with it.
To be able to get a better idea of what sounds good in a radio piece I listened to tons of radio stories, some of it like Radio Lab, Love and Radio, This American Life, The Kitchen Sisters, etc. which have amazing stories, structure, sounds and energy in telling stories. All those things make the listener understand the feeling of a piece without even totally noticing.
For the future I want to focus a little more on information technology like radio, film and graphic design. These are also not my only interests and will more than likely be one my two majors. Though I’m not sure what college I’ll end up in, I know for sure one of those things is what I want to do.