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 is AIR’s first COO. 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 currently resides in Boston.
Ngoc-Tran Vu is a Vietnamese American multimedia and transnational artist whose work and socially engaged practice draws from her experience as a community organizer and healer. She was born in Vietnam, grew up in Dorchester and Boston, and has lived in various cities and countries. Prior to joining AIR, Tran spent a year in Southeast Asia working on different arts projects and investigative narratives. Tran received her Master’s degree in Arts and Politics from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and her Bachelor’s degree in Ethnic Studies and Visual Arts from Brown University. She loves creative storytelling that is accessible, inclusive, and communities-centered, with a focus on social justice and cultural practices. Tran works across borders and boundaries.
Editor and Community Liaison
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 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. An lives in Arlington, and can be found camping, hiking or rock climbing when she’s not running after a bus or subway. She loves tea.
Send all your membership and website troubleshooting questions her way!
Supervising Producer, Localore
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.
Ava Fields was born and raised in Boston. She joined the AIR team as an Operations assistant in March of 2017. Before AIR, she worked for a class action Law Firm, The Department of Transitional Assistance and multiple factions of the Commonwealth of MASS – all of which had a focus on human service. With a love for stories, the arts and literature, she earned a BA in English Literature from the University of New Hampshire in 2009 with concentrations in Women’s Studies and Cinema Studies. Recently, in 2016, she earned her Master’s degree in Criminal Behavior as well. She currently resides in Boston with her family, boyfriend and twin cats.
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.
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