Name: Brittany Moya del Pino
Hometown: Sacramento, California
Joined AIR: January 2016
Professional experience/background: I’ve been working as a science writer for about 15 years, most of them spent as a federal contractor in the Washington, D.C., area and focused on stories about cancer research. Three years ago I quit my job to freelance. I wanted to explore new topics in science, new storytelling venues and platforms and audiences, and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. Radio is my next frontier; joining AIR is one of my first steps in that direction.
Which podcast have you just learned about? I was reminded of “Reply All” while listening to “Radiolab” this morning (first mention came while I was listening to “StartUp” last year). The episode they shared, “Cathedral,” had me bawling in the bathtub.
What drew you to radio? What initially drew me in was my commute when I lived in Washington, D.C. I spent an hour each day driving my kids to school and daycare and then picking them up eight hours later. I always enjoyed listening to NPR in the car. Life just seemed to get busier each year. Even when I started working part-time, I still felt busy with school activities and sports and housekeeping. So I’d pop in my earbuds and listen to a podcast while I vacuumed or exercised.
Now I hardly ever read print stories because I just don’t have time for it. Print requires us to stop whatever we’re doing to sit at computer or hold the paper in our hands. I’m not the only person who struggles with this, so I expect the demand for radio and podcasting skills will go up in the future.
What do you want to learn about your craft? I bought my microphone, headphones, and Tascam recorder last year. I just need to learn how to use all of it.
What’s inspiring you right now? Hawaii inspires me. I moved to Oahu in the summer of 2014 because of my husband’s job. At first I hated it, but a few months after we got here, I gave up complaining and just slowed down along with everyone else, which ended up being kind of wonderful.
I also made the choice to focus on stories in Hawaii so I could learn more about the people who call this place home. In the last year I’ve hiked with an entomologist to a remote native forest to search for Kamehameha butterflies, I’ve folded origami with a group of artists on the Big Island, I’ve visited with a talented artist who makes her living as a cobbler, I swam in the ocean with a local musician who showed me how to hunt octopus with a spear. The beaches and waterfalls here are pretty, but there’s a lot of amazing science happening in Hawaii that will have important implications for the rest of the world, and that’s what really inspires me.
I’ve also been volunteering with kids who are interested in science, which is its own form of inspiration. Our after-school club just finished building and launching water-propelled bottle rockets, which is something I never did as a kid. I love that I’m getting the chance to go back with them, to re-learn things that I’ve forgotten and explore new topics that I never had time or reason for until now.
How does public media reflect your American experience? As a parent, I’m really interested in our education system. Chana Joffe-Walt’s stories about schools and her sister’s experience with autism have been really helpful. The two “This American Life” episodes last year, “Cops See It Differently” (Part 1, Part 2), were also great for helping me handle questions about emotions surrounding the events in Baltimore and St. Louis.
The intimacy of hearing someone’s voice, the pacing of audio storytelling that feels slower than print and allows me to replay a segment if I need more time to understand it. The opportunity to hear multiple perspectives and understand the underlying complexities, … it just works for me, and it helps me stay informed without losing faith.