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KALW Pros and Audio Academy Grads Win Big in Local Journalism Awards

Posted by on Dec 27, 2022 in ACE Learning Center, Continuing Education | 0 comments

By Ben Trefny, Interim Executive Director, KALW

I wanted to share an end-of-year message of gratitude to the Association for Continuing Education and the community of learning centers. We’ve had a wonderful year at KALW, home to the Audio Academy training program, and it was capped off with 18 regional journalism awards. They would not have been possible had it not been for the support of ACE, which has supported our development programs for many years with ripples that impact the industry all over the country and around the world.

On Wednesday, November 30, the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists honored KALW with six awards at its Excellence in Journalism ceremony, including several for Audio Academy graduates (noted in bold italics with the year they completed our program):

Best Arts and Culture Reporting: Jeneé Darden, Porfirio Rangel ’19, David Boyer ’14, David Kwan — Sights & Sounds Magazine

Best Explanatory Journalism: Chris Egusa ’20 – Dismissed: COVID-19 and Disability in California

Best Health Reporting: Angela Johnston ’14 – Housing as Healthcare: How Housing Can Save People’s Lives

Best Podcast Feature Reporting: The Spiritual Edge: Judy Silber, Hana Baba, Imran Ali Malik ’20, Tarek Fouda — Becoming Muslim

Best Public Service Journalism: Scott Carroll ’21, Azul Dahlstrom-Eckman ’21, Carla Esteves ’21, David Exumé ’21, Wren Farrell ’21, Annelise Finney ’21, Andrew J.M. Garcia ’21, Angela Johnston ’14, Sonia Narang, Liza Ramrayka ’21 — What Works: Grassroots Solutions Around the Bay

Meritorious Service to SPJ NorCal: Ben Trefny

On Thursday, December 8, the San Francisco Press Club recognized KALW with a dozen awards at its Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards event, including the following:

Radio/Audio: Editorial

1st place: Wren Farrell ’21, “Pills And Productivity: A Personal Perspective”, KALW

Radio/Audio: Feature Story / Light Nature

2nd place: Sofie Kodner (summer ’19), “Bay Area Wildlife Habitats Are Disappearing. Fox Guy Has A Plan.”, KALW

3rd place: Babette Thomas (summer ’20),“West Oakland House Mural Brings The Women Of The Black Panther Party To The Forefront”, KALW

Radio/Audio: Feature Story / Serious Nature

2nd place: Angela Johnston ’14, “Shelter-In-Place Hotels Offer Unlikely Health Benefits For Houseless Seniors”, KALW

Radio/Audio: Investigative Reporting

2nd place: Chris Egusa ’14, “Dismissed: COVID-19 And Disability In California”, KALW

Radio/Audio: News Story

1st place: Sunni Khalid, Hana Baba, “Local governments and communities grapple with how to cope with people living out of their vehicles”, KALW

Radio/Audio: Podcast – General Interest

3rd place: Scott Carroll ’21, Azul Dahlstrom-Eckman ’21, Carla Esteves ’21, David Exumé ’21, Wren Farrell ’21, Annelise Finney ’21, Andrew J.M. Garcia ’21, Angela Johnston ’14, Sonia Narang, Liza Ramrayka ’21, “What Works: Grassroots Solutions Around The Bay”, KALW

Radio/Audio: Podcast – News

1st place. Shereen Adel, Hana Baba, Angela Johnston ’14, Lisa Morehouse, Gabe Grabin, James Rowlands, “Crosscurrents”, KALW

Radio/Audio: Public Affairs Program (Staff of 1-4)

1st place: Rose Aguilar, Malihe Razazan, Lea Ceasrine, Kevin Vance, “Your Call”, KALW

Radio/Audio: Series or Continuing Coverage

2nd place: Holly J. McDede, Alice Woelfle (summer ’19), Chris Egusa ’20, David Boyer ’14, “The Progressive Prosecutor”, KALW

Radio/Audio: Sports Feature

1st place: Chris Beale (summer ’21), “Queer Performers Making Space In Professional Wrestling”, KALW


Audio Academy graduates Chris Egusa, Liza Ramrayka, Azul Dahlstrom-Eckman, David Exumé, Wren Farrell, and Annelise Finney join Hana Baba in accepting prize certificates at the Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards.

Altogether, KALW won nearly 30 national and regional journalism awards throughout 2022. We couldn’t be more proud of the team, and we’re deeply appreciative of the work all these folks have done to serve audiences in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.

Now the journey continues! Here are some thoughts to close the year from two current Audio Academy fellows. First, we’ll hear from Astrid Fedel:

Astrid Fedel

Coming from France, I’m joining the Audio Academy with a different media culture and approach to storytelling, so I’ve been fascinated to explore new references and learn from the US public radio methodology.

At KALW we learn the groundwork of creating compelling stories and we’re given a platform to build a portfolio of sound-rich features and interviews.

On my pathway to becoming an audio producer, the Audio Academy is opening a door to the Bay Area audio making community. In addition to collaborating with talented reporters, editors, radio hosts, or engineers, we also have access to a network, community events, and professional opportunities.

We’ll also hear some thoughts from Kyrie Nashiem:

Kyrie Nashiem

Being part of the Audio Academy at KALW has been monumental for my creative and professional growth. I really enjoyed learning the intricate nature of broadcast journalism. Finding the balance between writing professionally and writing in my own voice is a key skill that will aid me in my future endeavors. It’s been great to have a team of mentors and peers to support me in my growth, and encourage me to reach my full potential. I’m very grateful for this opportunity to utilize my strengths while gaining valuable, hands-on experience. Experiencing the process of the News Digest taught me how to research stories more efficiently and pitch my ideas. It also taught me how to collaborate with a creative time in order to develop ideas into news spots or features.

Our field recording assignment was very important, because it taught us how to bring our narratives to the next level. Using ambient noise, in-field interviews, and other sound techniques taught me how to create under a variety of circumstances. Specifically, my time covering the Clement Nursery for KALW’s @WORK series was very meaningful to my career as a reporter. I didn’t expect the experience to be so fulfilling, but inquiring about the lives and professions of the people I interviewed caused deep emotion from everyone that I spoke with. From this experience, I’ve learned the beauty and power of journalism. For that, I am forever grateful.

KALW is a very open, and uplifting environment in which I feel valued, encouraged, and respected.  I’m very grateful for the guidance of Shereen, Sunni, Ben, Victor, Hana and the rest of the KALW community.

KALW Audio Academy and News Team Reporting Helped the Election Make Sense to KALW’s Audience

Posted by on Nov 17, 2022 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 0 comments

By Ben Trefny, KALW Interim Executive Director

We’re just over a week past Election Day. I think at this point, it must be the most collectively stressful day in the United States! But KALW, with huge help from our trainees, helped make sense of it all for our audience.

On Election Night, backed by our news team, Sonia Paul and Audio Academy mentor Sunni Khalid hosted live state and local interviews and results to complement NPR’s national coverage of the midterms.

Sunni and Sonia take a moment off the air.

Participants included Rose Aguilar, Audio Academy fellows Andrew Saintsing and Mary Catherine O’Connor, reporters from other media outlets, and community stakeholders. Audio Academy graduates Shereen Adel and Victor Tence, who oversee our training programs, helped out behind the scenes.

Victor and Andrew in KA:W’s Studio B.

Bringing our reporters live on the air reminded me how things were pre-pandemic. We were providing live newscasts on the daily, with Academy fellows engaging in one-on-one conversations with our announcers, to connect more conversationally with our audience. As we continue to pivot toward a new form of normalcy, we’ll keep opportunities like that in mind.

I asked Academy Fellow Priscilla Ankrah to share some thoughts about her experience so far in KALW’s Audio Academy:

Priscilla Ankrah

Reflecting on this beautiful whirlwind that has been Audio Academy, I am overwhelmingly filled with gratitude, joy, and wonder.

This experience has been such a blessing. From the wealth of knowledge and support I get in Sunni Khalid, my mentor, to the everyday support and wisdom from editors, engineers, and producers like Victor Tence, Shereen Adel, Lisa Morehouse, Marissa Ortega-Welch, and James Rowlands.

When Audio Academy first began, I was so nervous about recording on the mic and being comfortable with my voice. With all the mentorship, and the love I receive in the growing friendships in our cohort, I feel empowered to be exactly who I am.

There have however, been some challenges. Balancing work, and the financial cost of transportation are some of heaviest lifts in this experience. We are living in a time where the price of everything — from gas, bridge tolls, food, etc. — have shot up. There have been times when I have more month than money, and I have had to sacrifice daily expenses to cover transport to the office. I think a stipend for travel could go a very long way to making this experience accessible for working class folk.

I am, however, dreaming in full color through this experience. And I am blessed.

Historically Low Voter Turnout Precincts Visited Door-to-Door by Audio Academy Giving Away Voting Guide

Posted by on Nov 7, 2022 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 0 comments

By Ben Trefny, Interim Executive Director, KALW

Coming right up on the midterm elections, and KALW’s team is gearing up for live Election Night coverage Tuesday on and 91.7 FM in the San Francisco Bay Area. Make sure to vote and to tune in to find out what happens!

In the lead up to that, aside from broadcasting election-related stories, we’ve been visiting historically low voter turnout precincts of San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, and Contra Costa Counties. We’ve printed up 6,000 voter information guides, designed by Audio Academy alum Chris Egusa (’20) that volunteers are handing out door to door:

On Friday, 10/28, I went to the Bayview Senior Center, where organizers agreed to hand out about 500 with free bagged lunches to people in need:

Our training director and Audio Academy alum Shereen Adel (’15) went to East Palo Alto and shared a batch with community partner Mike Vista at the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula:

On Saturday, 10/29, current Audio Academy fellow Mary Catherine O’Connor handed hundreds out in one of the Bayview’s precincts. And Sunday, 10/30, Audio Academy mentor Sunni Khalid and I handed out hundreds more in and around Bayview’s Alice Griffith Public Housing.

I’m grateful that we have the opportunity to serve the community in this meaningful way.

I’m also really excited to get our current Audio Academy class engaged with live broadcasting on Election Night. It’s part of the wide variety for training opportunities they get through this program, made possible by the Association of Continuing Education.

Here are some thoughts from current Audio Academy fellow Wendy Reyes:

The experience at KALW’s Audio Academy has been chaotic — in the best way! Being plopped in a newsroom where there are countless stories, ideas, and conversations being had that have the potential to become a project and a story worth telling can be overwhelming. It’s this chaotic environment that is teaching me to narrow my focus and trust my gut. Accessing this new facet of my brain is rapidly becoming the best takeaway from the Audio Academy. Before KALW, I didn’t read and interpret news the way I’m learning to now. The early morning news digests have established a routine and practice of answering the most important questions when presented with new information. I have also been made to feel like what I have to say, where I come from, and what I represent matters to my mentors and others here at KALW. Overall, it’s an intricate process and I’m thankful for the mentorship and guidance.