AIR has always been about talent.
Since its inception, AIR’s leaders and network of producers have recruited, cultivated, and deployed independent storymakers to enrich, expand, and strengthen the public media system.
Beginning with MakersQuest 2.0 (MQ2) in 2008, and supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, the NEA and NYSCA, and others, we have established a new infrastructure to spur evolution across the public media system. MQ2, Localore, and other initiatives created “intrapreneurial” start-ups inside stations, led by gifted independent journalists. The outcomes of AIR’s productions have been tracked, analyzed, and reported for the benefit of the system. (See What’s Outside (2014), Spreading the Zing (2010), and Schardt Media’s Mapping Public Radio’s Independent Landscape (2004).
Our network has also become an incubator for the development of a diverse public media workforce. AIR’s New Voices Scholars program identifies and supports minority media makers at the beginning of their public media careers. Our peer-to-peer mentorships, and the specialized fellowships that emerged from that program, provide point-in-time development for producers at all stages of their careers.
All of our programming is designed to cultivate a robust pool of independent talent, and provide a pipeline for programs and stations that are ready to create media that reflects all of America.
We are committed to collaboration, to diversity, and to excellence in audio and media craft.
AIR producers carry the mission of public service media to every corner of America.With a particular expertise in audio, we hear what is not apparent, seek what may be hidden, and craft stories that reflect a full spectrum of human experience. We are dedicated to independence and to the highest ideals of craft. We are committed to collaborators sharing our vision. We will use all the resources available to us to create work that brings hope and enlightenment, with the power to embolden and unify.
CEO, AIR Inc.
Executive producer, Localore
Sue Schardt leads AIR, a network of 1,000 producers and journalists working across public media to instigate change and broaden the impact of public service media. She writes and presents frequently on media-technology, and has contributed to 2012 Radio Features “Think Tank” in Leipzig; NEA’s 2012 National Council; FCC’s Future of Media in the Digital Age; Australian Centre for the Moving Image’s Co-Creative Communities: Forum and Lab; MIT Open Docs Lab’s Technologies in a Changing Media Landscape; Doc/Tech at the Camden Film Festival; and as a keynote speaker on “Engagement as a Business Strategy” at the 2014 Public Media Development and Marketing Conference. She is executive producer of Localore, a ground-breaking, producer-led initiative designed to build public radio and television stations’ innovation capacity and take public media to more Americans. She is a 2014-15 National Arts Strategies fellow; has served on the NPR Board as a member of the Distribution and Interconnect Committee; is an advisor to Native Voice One, the Native American radio service; and is an artistic advisor to NPR’s From the Top. Schardt is a long-standing live music DJ on MIT’s freeform station, WMBR, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Chief Operating Officer
New England native Ryan Somerfield joined the team as AIR’s operations manager in spring 2016 and was promoted to chief operating officer in November. Prior to joining AIR, he led Clear Channel’s news and traffic division, Total Traffic Network, in Florida, where he managed a large team of producers, reporters, and photographers serving broadcast affiliates across the state. He is an experienced helicopter photojournalist and has covered major events for multiple television stations in South Florida. In 2014, Ryan founded Green Light Business Services, a consulting firm focused on continuous improvement projects for small businesses in Miami. Born into a New England broadcasting family, and raised on Cape Cod, Ryan lives with his girlfriend and four dogs in Boston.
Karen Lally stepped in as AIR’s first program director in November 2016. She previously worked in both operations and talent management at AIR throughout 2015 and 2016. Prior to AIR, Karen served in a variety of administrative and programming capacities at WGBH. She is an expert in the field of online accessibility, having worked extensively with WGBH’s team at the Ruth and Carl Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) as a production writer and editor. She also served as productions compliance manager at WGBH, a Unit Manager for NOVA, managing rights, releases, and payments. In addition, she worked with The World, administering fees and managing contracts for freelancer contributors. Her non-public media work includes a stint overseeing the Digital Video Library for the science media group at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She holds an M.ED. in curriculum and instruction, is a lifelong Bostonian, and lives with her family in Watertown, where she homeschooled her two sons from middle school through high school.
An Uong is drawn towards exploring human connections through storytelling. She received a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College, with concentrations in creative nonfiction writing, anthropology, and psychology. An comes to AIR Media from WNYC’s community engagement and Diversity & Inclusion departments. She has also worked in arts administration with Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, where she spearheaded a project that profiled fifteen of the park’s exhibiting artists. Some of her other work includes interviewing residents of New York City’s three major Chinatowns, and speaking with Brownsville, Brooklyn community members on the changing socioeconomic landscape of their borough. She is invested in journalism that immerses itself in the community, and is currently pursuing an MFA in creative nonfiction writing at Emerson College. She lives in Arlington, and can be found camping or hiking when she is not running after a bus or subway.
Localore supervising producer
Ryan McGrath tracks engagement for AIR and Finding America through social media. He graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor’s Degree in English in 2014. In 2015 he gathered news and organized social media and web content for New England Cable News. He can now be found in AIR’s office on the weekdays tracking interest in AIR and public media. While he’s not working, he’s practicing comedy or listening to podcasts.
Bab Oommen, a chartered accountant, manages finances for AIR. He started his career as an auditor with Arthur Young International, one of the big six CPA firms at the time. He worked as an internal auditor in the Middle East, a finance manager of Aegis Chemical Industries in Mumbai, and financial controller of JVL Group (managing Pepsi and Caltex operations) in Tanzania before moving to the United States. Bab is the president of Finance Matters Inc., a firm that provides financial management, accounting and tax services to clients from Massachusetts to California.
Editorial operations associate
Emily Boghossian came on board in 2014 as a summer intern after graduating from Carleton College with a degree in English. At Carleton, she studied narrative theory and wrote a thesis on narrative nonfiction. At AIR, Emily can be found surveying AIR network producers, cheering for #pubmedia through our @AIRmedia social media accounts, and writing for the AIR site. Emily is an aspiring producer with her ear to the ground for curious and captivating stories. Podcasts are eating up all of the space on her phone.
New Enterprise Fund project manager
Kate Ellis manages the New Enterprise Fund, which supports the expansion of entrepreneurial projects that benefit the media system. Kate is an award-winning public radio producer who has worked on numerous documentaries, mainly for American RadioWorks, the national documentary unit of American Public Media. Her programs include “State of Siege: Mississippi Whites and the Civil Rights Movement”; “Rebuilding Biloxi: One Year After Katrina” (winner of the National Headliner First-Place Award); “Say it Plain: A Century of Great African American Speeches” (winner of the Unity Award for Public Affairs/Social Issues reporting); and “Thurgood Marshall Before the Court” (winner of the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award). Kate co-edited the book/CD sets “Say it Plain and Say it Loud,” along with the oral history anthology “After the Fall: New Yorkers Remember September 2001 and the Years that Followed.” She holds a doctorate in anthropology from Columbia University, where she won several grants and awards to conduct her dissertation research on the competing ways older African Americans and whites in Louisiana remember the Jim Crow era. Her study is featured in ARW’s documentary, “Remembering Jim Crow.”
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