Tell us about yourself:
The first photo ever taken of me is a polaroid with “Baby O'' scrawled in ballpoint on the bottom. A two pound screaming preemie with a full head of hair is in an incubator, surrounded by tubes in a hospital. Both of my hands have cloth mittens tied over them and my arms are raised up like a boxer in a victory pose. My diaper is too big for me, and I’ll never forgive the hospital for making my legs look like unfortunate twigs desperately trying to escape a deformed marshmallow.
It took over a month, but I eventually got out of there. I like to think of this photo as proof of me beating the odds my whole life, even before I officially had a name.
A piece of yours or project (in any medium) that you'd like to share.
I’m currently the host and producer of Queer Joy, a new series by Homoground. Each episode is themed and features queer musicians sharing personal narratives of what queer joy means to them, with music they’ve made to embody and celebrate it. This series was created as a response to the lack of positive representation of the queer experience in popular media. I’m grateful for everyone who sent in a submission so we could bring this series to life. I’m extra thankful for my executive producer’s continued enthusiastic support - they’re a huge inspiration to me, and do so much for the queer community and podcasting in general.
What draws you to storytelling?
There’s a unique atmosphere growing up in poverty where the population consists of a majority of people from all over the world - immigrants, political refugees, military brats, and people working in every industry you can imagine. I was forced to be resourceful, creative, and tenacious to survive. El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juaréz, Mexico are never depicted in the media as cultural and artistic centers like New York City or LA, but it’s all there if you know where to look.
Infinite possibilities exist right at the moment someone crosses a border of any kind. This moment is what draws me to storytelling.
What excites you the most about being a New Voices Scholar?
Connecting one-on-one with fellow New Voices scholars, and deep conversations with my mentor. Everyone inspires me to keep on learning, working, and challenging myself.
What’s playing on your radio/audio streaming service right now?
Twenty Thousand Hertz’s most recent episode, A Thousand Words. This episode made me laugh, cringe, and think critically about audiences and the future of accessibility options in media. Voice-overs are definitely an artform.
What’s the most underrated tool (technical or not) that you use in your creative process?
Someone else’s ears! I always ask a few people I trust to listen to my “final” files before I deliver them. Fresh ears are crucial because the first listen is what your listeners are going to hear.
If my deliverables don’t look like “Episode 2 Final (revised) version3 this is the final final for real this time.wav” before I rename them, I start texting.
What is something you want to see more of in the industry?
The most compelling stories I’ve ever heard were always about everyday people - like The Sunshine Hotel from 99 percent invisible. I hope to see a shift away from the prioritization of “big name/celebrity” guests on podcasts. I’d also love to see more conversation about accessibility in audio - it’s a broad topic but an important one.
Who/What are your radio/audio inspirations and why?
All the border DJs. They played EVERYTHING, like avant garde electronic music, live hip-hop club mixes during the weekends, classic rancheras, and oldies for cruisin’. A special shout out to 106.7FM in Juarez for exposing me to uncensored alternative and progressive rock, metal, ska, and punk music.
This short DJ interaction where he tries to figure out what song the caller is requesting really captures the spirit of everything that made me love radio growing up.
Anything else you'd like to add?
“Baby O” remains undefeated to this day.
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