Editor’s note: “Meet this Member!,” is an interview series that spotlights AIRsters doing outstanding work in the audio and media industry. This week we feature audience engagement editor and audio producer, Elizabeth Estrada.
1) Where are you based and what do you do?
I’m originally from Queens, New York, and I am now based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I’m the Audience Engagement Editor for WHYY’s PlanPhilly which features reporting about Philly’s neighborhoods and urban design. I manage our op-ed section, Eyes on the Street, our communications and events. I also do some radio producing at my public access station, PhillyCAM. And finally, I’m working on a personal radio project.
2) A piece of yours (in any medium!) that you would like to share? (And why?)
My first-ever paid piece of audio journalism came out earlier this year—“Young and undocumented in Philly: How teens are finding support and community”—I’m so proud of it and honored that undocumented youth trusted me with their stories.
This was a very challenging story to work on due to the nature of the assignment. I was trying to gain access to an underage population that is at risk and build trust with them, as well as the people who are protecting them and offering them a safe space. I approached everyone with compassion and sensitivity and not only as a journalist, but as myself. I showed up to the school and simply listened to the students a few times before I ever took out a microphone. I respected their boundaries. It took time and ultimately, it allowed me to craft a careful story that was received positively by the community it was about. To me, that’s what mattered the most.
3) What draws you to storytelling?
Storytelling is such an integral part of my Cuban culture that it’s built into my DNA. I believe it’s a part of everyone—it’s how we learn, communicate and remember. It’s also a part of our collective histories. To me, storytelling is a powerful tool that connects all of us and that I get to use to challenge narratives and explore and create new ones.
4) What’s playing on your radio/audio streaming service right now?
I love this question! I always listen to WHYY’s The Why in the morning, it’s a daily radio show that dives deep into local Philadelphia stories.
Lately, I’ve been loving By the Book, 1619, NPR’s Life Kit, and Death, Sex & Money. For creative inspiration, I love The Call. For amazing audio storytelling wisdom, How Sound is where it’s at. I’m also planning my wedding and the Bridechilla podcast is filled with great and funny advice. In terms of music, I’ve been playing Lizzo and Cimafunk nonstop along with Spotify’s “Confidence Boost” playlist.
5) What’s the most underrated tool (technical or not!) you use in your creative practice?
For me, it’s all about taking a break from the screen and the media. It’s nothing revolutionary, but going on a walk, getting in some fresh air and putting pen to paper are little things that really help me. And showers! I always get good ideas in the shower.
6) What is something you want to see more of in the industry?
More womxn and people of color in leadership roles. More voices with different accents from around the country and the world. More paid internships. More experimental, artistic sound design.
7) Who’s your radio/audio idol and why?
Maria Hinojosa is such a trailblazer. I really admire her impressive body of work and the way she brings her values and identity into her journalism and centers the diversity of Latino experiences in her storytelling. LatinoUSA was one of the first podcasts I ever subscribed to and it affirmed my desire to want to pursue radio and podcasting.
8) What’s the best method for people to connect with you (including social media)?
When it comes to social, I love connecting with people on Instagram—I’m at @TheElizabethEstrada. People can also reach out to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you’re local in the Philly area, I’m always down to grab a coffee or a beer (or any beverage)!