Audio Academy Class At KALW Begins to Learn How to Tell Rich, Diverse Stories, Plus Assist in Membership Drive
By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Public Radio
It was a really great week, here at KALW, where we celebrated two big deals, simultaneously:
– the first scheduled week of shifts for the Audio Academy class of 2017
– the start of our September Membership Drive.
It’s a critical period for KALW, when we raise a large part of our operating budget, and this year, for the first time, it coincides with the first shifts for our Academy fellows. That actually proved to be kind of cool, because they could see our station staffers in fundraising mode, interact with our audience in the phone room, and eat some donated food, too! More importantly for this class, they were able to get hands-on training from some of the outstanding volunteers who have been training as radio journalists in our news department this summer.
I’d like to take a moment to say their names, because they really did stand out and deserve a lot of credit. Cheers to Lisa Cantrell, Bonnie Chan, Nicole Grigg, Meradith Hoddinott, Lucy Kang, Justine Lee for providing some of the initial instruction on aggregating daily news, fact-checking shows, preparing stories for online distribution, and generally getting a feel for the newsroom. It’s really wonderful and helpful, and it’s a tribute to the communal environment we all enjoy at KALW. Also, here’s a shout out to our other summer trainees who have headed back to school or into the workforce: Allison Levitsky, Sayra Trejo, Marylee Williams and Jordan Winters. What an outstanding, talented and positive group!
Also, we’ve had some recent stories from Audio Academy alums that are worth noting:
– Truc Nguyen (’16) made a story two weeks back about people who are Court Appointed Special Advocates for foster youth. It was an important and lovely piece, and it drew this comment from a listener: “I’ve been a CASA for 1.5 years for a kid in foster care in San Francisco, so I appreciated the attention and the story! And we love KALW. Keep up the good work.”
– Shereen Adel (’16) put together a whole show about the gig economy, independent contracting and making a living on Monday. We started with an excellent story that our former managing editor Casey Miner made about independent contracting, salaried work, and a “third way.” That was followed by a great interview Shereen produced that delved more deeply into the benefits and costs of that “third way” and showed a bigger picture of how government involvement might work to make things better for working people. And then Shereen had a reported piece that contextualized the value of unions compared with indie work, framed through the experiences of musicians — a truly inspired choice for radio! I really loved that show.
– Our energy and environment reporter, Angela Johnston (’14), produced a story on Wednesday about how a lack of water is affecting development in East Palo Alto. Really outstanding reporting, in that, and it took the topic on from a great perspective — focusing on the voices of people who are often overlooked when land-use planning decisions are made.
– On Thursday, we aired a story on people displaced by a fire in San Francisco’s Mission District. Hannah Kingsley-Ma (’15) originally reported on that during her Audio Academy year, and this follow up focused on a family that now lives on Treasure Island. The story explored the bureaucratic entanglements and frustrations keeping people who lost their homes from being rehoused in a timely way.
These pieces include so many of the elements that I love about our storytelling:
– rich scenes
– learning about different parts of the Bay Area
– emotional resonance
– depth reporting
– diverse perspectives
– great writing
– insight into how the world we live in works (and doesn’t work)
These are all qualities that our incoming Audio Academy class will be learning over the next nine months. I can’t wait to see what they produce!