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.
Marketing and Communications Manager
Kate Krosschell came to AIR in April 2017 from Twitter, where she was tasked with analyzing tweets and telling data stories about the intersection of Twitter, media and global events. She has a master’s degree in Film Studies from the University of Copenhagen and a bachelor’s degree in French from Bowdoin College. She was born and raised in Boston but a passion for travel took hold which led to teaching English in France, managing communications for a Danish ed-tech startup, and programming films for CPH:DOX. A curious pursuer of stories with a penchant for numbers, Kate loves to dissect the ways in which language, diversity and culture inform storytelling (and vice versa). Outside of work she tries to find time to a) volunteer with LGBT social organizations b) blog about pop culture or c) make it to a yoga class, but really she’s probably binging the newest HBO series or “Radiotopia” podcast on her couch with her girlfriend.
Ngoc-Tran Vu identifies as a Vietnamese American multimedia artist, organizer, and healer. Born in Vietnam, she grew up in the United States and continues to evolve globally. Prior to joining AIR, Tran spent a year in Vietnam and Southeast Asia as an artist and conscious volunteer. She has a background in education, community organizing, and digital activism. 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 inclusive and collaborative with communities, with a focus on social justice issues and cultural practices. Working across borders while based in Boston, Tran follows the philosophy: live, love, laugh.
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.
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.
Project Manager, Localore
Kate Ellis is project manager for Localore. 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.”
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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