See How KALW Makes Noise with Membership Drive and Stories That Earn National Coverage
By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Community Radio
I’ll start out with the joyful noise that KALW is in its spring membership drive. Now for a lot of stations, this can be drudgery, with people interrupting shows, going on and on, guilting the audience into donating. But at KALW, our general manager Matt Martin had the idea several years ago to not interrupt what listeners hear at all, just sneaking in a few words about what the station means during regularly scheduled program breaks. This attitude is part of the culture of the station – to do our work with great respect for the community as our partner. And I always look forward to drive time as a chance to directly talk with our audience. It’s fun! And I encourage you to set your clocks and check out what we do between 5pm and 6pm, Monday through Thursday, when Crosscurrents, the show the Audio Academy helps produce, comes on the air. Here’s where you’ll find us!
Speaking of the Audio Academy, the team has been busy producing stories. Here’s what’s been getting on the air:
– Josiah Luis Alderete and Cari Spivack each reported with a lot of heart and sense of sound on the May Day demonstrations about rights of immigrants
– Claire Stremple reported a heartwarming story about an outdoor program for people with disabilities
Also, from our current class, the final collection of stories profiling KALW’s neighborhood, San Francisco’s Portola District, will be broadcast in just over a week. That includes stories from Josiah Luis, Greer McVay, and Beatrice Thomas.
Some of our alums have also been busy with KALW work:
– KALW’s cost-of-living reporter Jeremy Dalmas (’14) made a new version of a story he originally produced for NPR about a plan for a sliding scale for government fines, and after some strategic Reddit sharing, it went viral on our website
– KALW’s transportation reporter Eli Wirtschafter (’16) made a fast-moving feature about the now fully operational bike path on the eastern span of the Bay Bridge. He got his first NPR headline spot on the air last week – a piece about new AirBnB regulations in San Francisco. And he repurposed a story he made with KALW about traffic apps for the national show Here and Now.
– Chris Hambrick (’15) produced a story about hip hip artist Tahaj Edwards with an East Oakland resident named Tony Daquipa as part of our collaboration with the community reporting project Oakland Voices. Tony performed that story live on stage on Sunday, April 30, in our Sights & Sounds of East Oakland show at Castlemont High School.
Here are some thoughts from current Audio Academy fellow Jeremy Jue, who is working on a whole show about different kinds of transitions people go through in the Bay Area:
I can’t believe it’s almost over – that for the last seven months I’ve been learning how to produce radio stories and in June my time as an Audio Academy fellow will be wrapping up. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve struggled a lot too. It wasn’t that long ago that I found myself nervously walking along International Boulevard in Oakland recording vox for the opening montage of Crosscurrents. Now, I’m working on my own show. That’s kind of crazy. I think that it’s been hard for me to recognize while in it, but when I take a moment and look back, I can see the progress and steps that I’ve made. Each story has become a little bit easier. I’m gaining confidence and working on different kinds of stories. I still stumble plenty, but I’m learning by doing and figuring out what works for me. Discomfort is the challenge, but finding my voice is the reward.
One of our alums, Ted Muldoon (’15), recently left the engineering jobs he’d been doing at KALW to cross the country and take a full-time production position working on podcasts with a major daily publication. Here’s what he had to say about that transition:
This week I started my job at The Washington Post, and among the slurry of emotions I wash down every morning as I walk to work, the most pronounced is sheer astonishment. Five years ago I was a window washer in Minnesota, and then I found KALW. It marked nothing less than a personal and professional watershed for me. The opportunity, experience and mentorship I received at KALW through programs like the Audio Academy is unparalleled. I knew nothing entering KALW – I had quite literally no journalism or audio engineering experience – and in three years time I was a well qualified audio professional. I challenge you to find another organization with programs that enabled people better than KALW. Because so far as I’m concerned, that’s a plain impossibility.