My week in sound

My engineering skills were mostly self taught and I felt that my strengths had plateaued. I had been engineering radio segments and podcasts for the year previous and was really excited to bring my skills to the next level.

When applying for the program, I wasn’t sure where I stood with the other students. I had some work out in the world but I wasn’t sure how it compared to the others. I was ecstatic when I found out that I had gotten into the program.

Selena was a great mentor and guided me through proper practice for recording, editing, and mastering. Selena had a great sense for where my strengths are and helped me boost my faults. While being a great mentor, she also trusted my abilities and gave me a lot of independence. 

The week started off kind of slow, I went out with the reporters and assisted them with sound. Later, I helped the reporters with editing their drafts. Around the middle of the week, I started on my behind the scenes project. On top of that project, I started mixing the other student projects. Towards the end of the week, I was slammed, I would stay from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. to get interviews, get nat sound for the project, mix other people’s interviews and master them afterwards.

This project taught me the intense and fast-paced environment of the newsroom. I’ve learned so much about how to operate in a professional environment, working with reporters, and operate as a legitimate engineer. I recommend this program for anyone that is trying to step their engineering and reporting skills to a professional level.


Expanding my horizons

For me, National Public Radio’s Next Generation training program was an insightful, positive experience. While I was an apprentice for the project’s illustrator, Emily Whang, I was very engaged in learning various, professional tools available to me and the development of my conceptual process. As an illustrator for the university’s newspaper, The Sundial, I was already slightly familiar with the basics of editorial illustration, but with her guidance I was able to think about what it truly means to engage the audience while staying true to the main point of the article. 

I was also exposed to more editorial positions by participating in a few interviews led by mentees and mentors. It was quite inspiring hearing them in person, and it gave way to more concepts for the final visual products. I would like to extend this thinking towards my position at the Sundial and towards future positions. 

From this experience, I feel that I mainly struggled with communication and time management within the workspace. Communication and time management are key in a fast-paced, collaborative workspace and this project inspired me to continue growing as a newcomer in this professional environment. I hope to work towards becoming more comfortable with being honest with my coworkers and peers in the future. I look forward to the finished project and I will miss this team; hopefully, I will keep in contact with those who I’ve worked with and foster these professional opportunities.


What I learned from telling the story of a woman from El Salvador

Weeks prior to the workshop I had been anticipating the first day. I made sure I had no other plans during the week because I knew we were going to be having long and busy days.

Being able to interview my subject, Gabriela Linares on Monday allowed me to start on things right away. Our interview location wasn’t ideal to record because of all the background noise, but as a team, were able to find a wall that blocked the wind off.

The audio in itself wasn’t hard to understand since Linares had given complete sentences. When writing the story, I knew what information I wanted to include, but wasn’t sure in what order. I had written the story one way but after getting edits from my mentor and editor, I was able to get clear feedback and advice. They showed me how little tweaks and rearranging your sentences can help you share your story.

Before coming into the workshop, I knew the basics of audio editing. After the workshop I can confidently say I’ve learned more tools that help make the editing process easier. I also learned how and why we have to adjust certain things on our audio file. The engineers taught me how small edits can make your piece sound better and always made sure they explained what they were doing.

I am very thankful to have been able to be part of a group with such talented individuals. Everyone was always supportive, kind and always available to help out. I found both presentations on solutions journalism and with Brenda Salinsa via Skype very interesting. They talked about things I had never heard of and cleared up some questions I had about being in the work space. I also learned how to get feedback on work by asking certain questions like, “Tell me when you wandered off.” Overall, I am very proud of all the work that was done this week. I can now take what I learned here, to what I do in school and in the workplace.


My Next Generation Scramble

What did I learn? Oh, what a simple question this seems to be. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say, but sometimes you need a few years or maybe a decade to really see how something has pushed you to the next level in your life. But in the meantime, here are just a handful of things I gleaned from my time with NPR’s Next Generation Radio. 

The week started out with mass pandemonium. I did not have someone set to interview, so the first day I was scrambling. “Do we know any immigrants?” I asked on the phone with my mom, a frenzied tone in my voice. I was trying my best to complete assignments about my story without having a story to begin with. I learned that you need to call a lot of people to get one call back, but more than that, I gained insight into how to manage uncertainty. 

Throughout the week I had meetings with editors, sound engineers, web designers and illustrators all in efforts to make my story the best it could be. I got a taste for what it would be like working for a professional news organization and I loved it. It was invigorating being in an environment with everyone working towards a common goal; to share someone’s journey. 

Most importantly, I gained confidence in my skills and myself. This was my first time conducting a fully fledged interview, crafting an audio profile and creating all parts of a story from the audio to the writing, social media, photos and video. Before the program, I thought I could do these things; now I know I can do them. 

I am not going to pretend like I know what is coming in the next few years of my life, but I do have a feeling that this program will have a lasting impact. I’ve made connections with new mentors along with learning so many technical skills. I’ve made the best of a challenging situation. I’ve crafted a story that I am proud to share with the world. I am excited to see how this program continues to help me along my journey. 


Trust your gut

I applied to Next Generation thinking that I knew what to expect. I was used to going out, interviewing people and editing to meet deadlines but I truly did not know what was in store for me.

The first day went by smoothly. I thought it wasn’t going to be as hard as everyone makes it seem. Second day, I started feeling it.  The eight hours I spent writing and editing went by extremely quickly. I felt as if I did not have enough hours in the day to get everything done.

By the third day, I felt as if I wasn’t going to leave the newsroom until midnight. I learned that at some point I needed to just step away from my work, get rest and come back with fresh eyes. By the fourth day I felt like everything fell into place out of nowhere.

This workshop has been extremely challenging but I would do it again if I had the opportunity. I recommend that anyone who is interested about either storytelling or journalism, to go for it. BELIEVE EVERYONE when they tell you, you will be challenged but it’ll be worth it.


Finding comfort in being uncomfortable

I went into this program not really knowing what to expect. I had a story pitch that I was excited about and I was confident in my ability to tell it. The only thing was that I had never talked to the subject directly at that point. My mentor and I used all the background information we knew to structure interview questions that we felt good about, but we came away from the interview concerned that it didn’t fit the theme of the project.

We were already interviewing late as it took place on Tuesday afternoon, and we suddenly found ourselves back at square one. I ended up finding another subject off a suggestion from one of my fellow mentees, but I wasn’t able to interview him until Wednesday afternoon. While everyone else began editing their audio, I was pretty much still waiting to begin working.

The new subject ended up being one of my favorite interviews that I have ever done as a journalist, but it was still tough working from behind, while seeing everyone else making great progress on their respective stories.

Despite that, I was never discouraged. All of the mentors and mentees kept me going by reminding me that I wasn’t the first person this has happened to. At the end of it all, I came out with a story that I couldn’t be more proud of and that I hope does justice to my subject.

Kyle, my mentor, was invaluable to this week. He made sure that I focused on all the little details, which was exactly what I needed because I tend to be more of a big picture type of person.

Next Generation Radio is about going out of your comfort zone, and throughout this week I learned that it’s not only about that, but rather adapting to a fast-paced environment and finding comfort in being uncomfortable.


Photographer masters audio, thanks to NPR Next Gen Radio

When the NPR Next Gen program was first introduced to me, I was a bit apprehensive.

I had little to no audio experience and felt that my writing could use some work, but I applied on the idea of working alongside a mentor. I liked the thought of a week-long project focusing on a subject in many different media.

From the start of the week, I felt encouraged by the Next Gen staff to pursue my ideas, but they always did an excellent job of pushing the story beyond the surface level. In the past, I had never worked on one particular story for more than a few days, so this program showed me what it takes to put together a whole piece that I am proud of.

Coming from a photography background, I always appreciated multimedia stories, but had not taken the time to work with audio. I was nervous at first, but with practice, I slowly became more comfortable with the equipment. Once going out to conduct the audio interview, I realized it was just another way to tell the story of our subject, Orlando Olarte.

My mentor, Gabriela Saldivia, worked with me to improve a lot of different skills, but more specifically, my interviewing habits. At times our subject did not answer the question during the first attempt, but Gabriela helped me rephrase the question in a way that allowed for a fresh response from our subject.

In the past I struggled to convey the true essence of the subject, however with this project I feel the audience gets a great representation of Orlando Olarte. The combination of audio, photography, writing and illustration makes a complete package that provides an insightful look into the life of our subject.

The power of storytelling has always inspired me to get out and meet people, and now with another skill in my bag, I have the ability to tell a comprehensive story.