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ACE Spectrum


Ace Spectrum is about you — the ACE Learning Centers.
It’s a quick sharing of ideas, inspiration, opinions and best practices among our continuing education organizations.

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Audio Storytelling Skills Learned at KALW Audio Academy Help All Forms of Storytelling

Posted by on May 18, 2022 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

By Ben Trefny, Interim Executive Director, KALW

We’re nearing graduation day for our current Audio Academy class here at KALW. It’s been a year of transition — obviously for the students who are learning skills that can shape their future careers — but also for us all. We’re in the station sometimes, and we’re working from home at others. We’re masked, and then we’re not masked. All the while, as we navigate new developments, we’re informing our audience about best practices. It’s challenging, but it’s all so important, and as a public service, we and our trainees have a responsibility to provide reliable, up-to-date information to help keep us all safe. I’m grateful every day we have the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the world.

One person who’s been doing a lot of that is current Audio Academy fellow D’Andre Ball. It’s been really wonderful to see his development over these past eight months, and I’m really excited to where he goes from here!

Here are D’Andre’s three most recent stories:

Why were the Geneva Towers demolished? 

Closed East Oakland foundry site to be redeveloped

COVID and gentrification: Bishop K.R. Woods is leading his church through both

And here are some thoughts he shared about his experiences:

D’Andre Ball, Audio Academy Fellow ’22

Producing my first feature story on Covid, gentrification and the black church, allowed me to dig deeper into observations and concerns I was having about my surrounding community. Not only was I able to explore my curiosity regarding this topic, but in collaboration with my editor, Lisa Morehouse, I was also able to step back and reflect on how my community concern could fit within a larger national landscape. 

The feedback and encouragement I received while producing my first audio story, makes me even more excited for my final projects. As Audio Academy comes to a close, I look forward to applying the confidence I’ve gained as a storyteller to continue sharing my voice and perspective through audio journalism.  

One of the joys for me of being part of such a longstanding training program is seeing where people go with the skills they develop with us. It’s particularly sweet when I get to see them in practice, like with my current colleagues Shereen Adel (’16), David Boyer (’14), Victor Tence (’20), and Eli Wirtschafter (’16). But it’s always nice to catch up with alumni who are out in the rest of the world.

Ian Lewis (’16) went to west Texas where he worked with Marfa Public Radio for a while, earning an Edward R. Murrow Award, and now is involved with other media. Here’s an update he shared with us:

Ian Lewis Audio Academy Graduate ’16

Most exciting news on my end is that I’m part way through making a feature length fiction movie. First half is almost entirely in the can and we will shoot the second half late in summer after the rainy season. I hope to share it with you this fall! I’m excited about the next stage of production where I’m going to use all kinds of microphones, including contact mics, to make recordings of the industrial and extractive equipment and infrastructure to make a sort of score for the film. I find the audio recording as fun or more so than the filming. I’ve also been having fun broadcasting ambient sounds and field recordings on a tiny pirate radio station in my backyard (the kind of thing you can get away with in rural Texas). And I have to say, I think often while I’m editing about the Audio Academy — maybe film editors should all begin with audio! 

Cool stuff. And much more to come, from many more folks!

Grad and Current Fellows Report on How KALW Audio Academy Helps Audio Journalism Careers

Posted by on May 9, 2022 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 0 comments

By Ben Trefny, Interim Executive Director, KALW Public Media

I keep in touch with many graduates of KALW‘s Audio Academy, and I’ve recently been catching up with several of last year’s graduating class. Found out, in fact, that Annelise Finney is hosting weekend newscasts at KQED Public Radio in San Francisco, and her classmate Azul Dahlstrom-Eckman is editing KQED’s weekend reporters. It’s awesome to see their careers evolving!

I asked Azul to share a few words about his progression in the industry:

Azul Dahlstrom-Eckman, Audio Academy ’21

A couple months after graduating from the Audio Academy in June of 2021, I got hired at KQED as an on-call reporter. For several months I worked anywhere from two to four shifts a week, covering breaking news and events all over the Bay Area for on-air newscasts. I also worked as an on-call producer for shows like Forum and The California Report, as well as an Editor on the Digital Team. Being on-call at KQED also meant I could report feature stories for The California Report Magazine and Bay Curious. I just got hired as the Interim Weekend Editor at KQED.

This new role is my biggest responsibility yet. It’s full time (for the next 3 months), and I’m in charge of assigning stories to our entire six-person team, which includes both radio and digital reporters, editing their stories when they are ready, and hopefully having time to do some of my own reporting too.

I’m amazed at how many of the journalistic fundamentals I learned at the Audio Academy I still use every day. Whether it’s writing for radio, fact-checking, voicing, or just knowing what ingredients make a good radio story. Most of all, I think one of the most valuable pieces of advice from the Audio Academy was not to lose my own voice in my work. That’s something I think a lot of reporters struggle with in this industry and something that bears repeating. I’ve done a lot since I graduated from the Audio Academy, and I can’t emphasize enough how well it prepared me for a new career in audio journalism.

Love hearing all that!

Meanwhile, our current Audio Academy fellows have about a month-and-a-half remaining before their own graduation. Here are some thoughts from current Audio Academy fellow Ryan Howzell:

Ryan Howzell, Audio Academy Fellow ’22

My time in Audio Academy has helped me view my home and community through different eyes (and ears!). A highlight from working on my current feature about the equity in Oakland parklands was getting a guided tour of Joaquin Miller Park from members of a volunteer park stewardship group in the East Bay hills. Due to omicron, I couldn’t get out much in the field for my first feature, so spending an hour in the park, recording the sounds of flowing creeks, birds, and my guides’ perspectives on history, equity, and ownership in the park — armed with my nifty H5 zoom recorder — really made me feel like a real field reporter for the first time. A reliable favorite part of Audio Academy is our weekly Newsday check-in call. I love seeing editors, engineers, producers, hosts, and reporters all in one place and hearing the often zany stories people share about their lives. I feel like KALW has built a supportive community space through these calls — even over Zoom! I can’t believe my time as a fellow is coming to an end, but I can’t wait to see the stories my peers and I create in the meantime.

What’s next? Ryan is working with KALW host Hana Baba on a program about Sudan for the World Affairs Council!

So proud of all our fellows and graduates. Keep your ears open — you’ll probably hear them on the radio!

Great Way to Sign off from National Poetry Month – Have Poems in Your Pockets

Posted by on Apr 28, 2022 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 0 comments

By Dexter and Luna, ACE Poetry Contest Mascots and representatives for Alpha Schools; Max, ACE Poetry Contest Mascot for SFIHS; and Bessie, ACE Poetry Contest Mascot for OIHS. Oh, yes, Martha helped type. She likes to participate.

Dexter (left) and Luna enjoying shoe poetry.

It’s a beautiful ending to National Poetry Month. Tomorrow, April 29, is Poem in Your Pocket Day, and that means you can have a poem in your pocket to share with anyone you meet. Dexter here, but I’m with the whole gang of ACE Poetry Contest mascots and we want to share some great poems that are in our pockets today as practice for sharing them tomorrow.

Luna here. Define pocket please. I think a “pocket” can be anything. It can be written on a piece of paper or in your journal that’s in your backpack or your purse. Or typed on your smartphone. Or not-so-smart phone. Tattooed on your arm. Or your poem can be tagged in a book of poems that can carried anyplace, even in your jeans pocket.

Max here for SFIHS.

Max here. The problem with us mascots is that we have no pockets. So, our poems must be memorized so we can bark them out to anyone who passes.




Bessie here for OIHS.

Or who we fly by. Bessie here and my pocket poems must be short because I fly fast and don’t stick long anywhere. I need to share short poems so my listeners can hear my whole poem.

Are we all ready to share our special poems in our so called pockets? Great, who wants to go first?

I am, I’m first. Luna here, pushing to the front of the line.  Here’s my poem for Poem in Your Pocket Day.

First Fig
By Edna St. Vincent Millay

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends
It gives a lovely light!

(Note from Martha: all three dog mascots barked at Luna’s poem and Bessie clapped her wings.)

I think I need to go next. Max here to update the poets. Here’s a poem from Joy Harjo, our current US Poet Laureate.  It’s called Invisible Fish and it’s in Harjo’s typical style. Just poetic words that make up sentences.

Invisible fish swim this ghost ocean now described by waves of sand, by water-worn rock. Soon the fish will learn to walk. Then humans will come ashore and paint dreams on the dying stone. Then later, much later, the ocean floor will be punctuated by Chevy trucks, carrying the dreamers’ descendants, who are going to the store.

(Note from Martha: Dexter and Luna nodded their heads while Max smiled. Bessie clapped her wings quickly.)

Oh, great poems. Bessie here. I wrote my own poem so I guess I would call it flyyerel poetry. To go along with doggerel and catterel poetry. So here goes. It’s haiku style – short and simple but hopefully inspirational.

By Bessie

Golden wings at rest
Much more to learn calls to me
I rise to the sky  

(Note from Martha: all three dogs paused then barked and jumped up and down several times. Bessie bowed her antenna.)

Guess it’s my turn. Dexter on the stage now. A poem not too old, not exactly recent, but is spot on in its POV.

By Anais Nin

And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
it took
to blossom.

(Note from Martha: all three dogs howled and Bessie flew up in the sky and returned to the flower she was resting on. Dexter then spoke.)

That was a great set of short poems for Poem in Your Pocket Day. Thank you, ACE Poetry Contest mascots. You have done a great job but it’s time for us to say goodbye to National Poetry Month. Next up on the ACE Spectrum blog will be poems of the Winners of the ACE Poetry Contest, and they are always great. Fabulous actually.

Keep reading and writing poems everyone. Poems are your voice. See you next year.