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New Voices Reports 2014

New Voices 2014 Evaluations

Evaluation Questions:

Please provide a general overview of your New Voices experience. Be as specific as you can, pro and con. (300 words or less)

What were the top lessons or impressions of the experience? Think in terms of things we should know as we prepare for next year class.  (100 words or less)

Who did you meet that made the strongest impression(s) on you, and why?  (200 words or less)

What professional connections do you expect to follow up on after the conference? An assignment? A relationship with the potential to evolve into collaboration? (200 words or less)

Do you have recommendations for AIR or for Third Coast for improvements to the conference or the New Voices program? (300 words or less)

Do you expect your New Voices experience influence your professional direction? Why or why not? (200 words or less)


Responses

Alvarez, SarahName: Sarah Alvarez

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Affiliation: Michigan Radio

Generally it was great. I really did enjoy meeting all the other NV’ers. They were wonderful people doing really exciting things. I work in an environment that is not diverse and so being in a room of people who were working towards the same things I am and come from a similar orientation felt pretty extraordinary. There is something incredibly important in feeling like you’re part of a community. I very much felt that way among my NV colleagues and among the other producers.

Specifically it was a great opportunity to network and learn from others trying to push themselves, and audio work, to be better. The workshops I attended were incredibly interesting, and the people I talked to were as well. I wish that some of the social environments weren’t quite as loud, but that has nothing to do with you all.

It’s always hard to avoid tokenism, and I think it’s something a program like this needs to be ever-vigilant about. I didn’t feel that way, but it got close a few times, and I think this is the most important thing for you all to continue to work towards as you prepare for next year.

It was great to be featured prominently, but I think if it was more clear what about our work made the selection committee excited about us were conveyed more clearly to the rest of the conference it puts us on more equal footing with the rest of the participants.

I think the sessions where we interact with just the other NV’ers could be a little more dynamic. It was wonderful to just be with each other, but I think a little more structure would help us learn more from each other and also just feel a little less heavy. I think NVers should have a day with just each other before the conference begins.

I met Alan Hall in my audio doctor session and he was amazing. I really need folks I can brainstorm with about Infowire who I can trust come fully from a creative place instead of a station-based perspective where there are a myriad of concerns about how a project sounds, looks, and rolls out. I loved that time! When I get the Infowire sonic ID I’m going for, I’m definitely sending it his way.

Laura Sullivan is a badass. Her session was exemplary. Even though I don’t do full-on investigative work I found so much to think about from her work and her approach to her past work. I’ve heard her voice in my head several times since. SUPERB!

I’ve already followed up with a bunch of NVers since the conference, too many to run through, and I think all of those could lead to collaborations. I’ve also connected NV’ers to others I know where I feel like there’s a lot of collaboration potential.

I also think some work between Infowire and KQED is likely to come from a meeting I had with Julia McEvoy, which she initiated after reading the NV bios, so that would be great.

I know there are more diverse voices in the audio world that we can learn from and celebrate and be excited about meeting. I would like to see a more diverse slate of presenters and experts at the next conference.

I think it will. I didn’t come looking for any assignments but rather to see if people were generally excited about Infowire and felt it would be valuable. I think I really got that sense, and it allows me to move through all these collaborations with a lot of confidence.
I was also deeply touched and impacted by how generous everyone was with their time and expertise, in our crew and the larger conference as a whole. It makes me feel like choosing this as my second career was the right decision and makes this community the place I want to stay.

I want to thank all of you for all the work you did to make this experience great for us, and for the work you do every day to make AIR a great community. I really do appreciate it.


Testing out a one-light/reflector setup. The results, mediocre; the knowledge gained, priceless.

Name: Emeka Anyanwu

Location: Chicago

Affiliation: Sierra Consulting Group, Inc.

The New Voice experience could only be described as overwhelming, but in the most positive sense. From the pre-session to the awards ceremony there was nothing but community, inclusion, and openness. The information came fast, the introductions came faster, and in between there was always a spread of food and drinks to help you power through to the next engagement. The listening session–where I got to hear from fellow New Voice Scholars who are advancing the medium and contributing work to the field–could only be described as an inspirational and humbling experience. I found fellow visual people, fellow audio producers, and fellow travellers on this journey. From there, the anxiety and panic gave way to an experience that was better than anything I could have imagined, period. The air was rife with camaraderie, collegiality, and geeky nerdiness (again, in the most positive sense). To answer, the question simply, the overall impression of the New Voice experience was a dive into the proverbial deep end, buoyed by the enthusiasm and shared interest of all those in attendance.

For future New Voices, there are factions between the purists who love and appreciate audio only and the new/multi-media producers who bring different skillsets to augment audio such as video, web, and podcasts. There were a number of discussions about how breakout sessions were not as heavy on audio and “even one about visuals.” If AIR continues to recruit different media producers it will be necessary to become more inclusive. Show the inclusion of new elements as only increasing the power and reach of audio, not usurping its authority or diluting its purity.

Kainaz Amaria was an engaging presenter and her work spoke for itself. She explained what made a good photo and was willing to share the knowledge she had from both perspectives as a seasoned practitioner and leader. This session meant so much because it aligned with my goals of creating a multimedia something (platform, website, whatever new thing is around the corner) for journalism and storytelling. Not only that, but she took time to speak to me and gave me really good advice that applied universally. Her candor, professionalism, and openness made me feel like an equal rather than another person holding her up in the conference room. Her authenticity and presence made it a genuine moment of connection.

Anthony Martinez: It may seem like a cop-out to reference my New Voice captain, but I had a very engaging conversation with him that opened up a whole new avenue for me to explore in articulating some points and refining my nebulous thoughts about my greater ambitions. He was informative and willing to chat. It was a small moment that had a big impact and I’m glad to have received the knowledge shared with me.

Within the ranks of the New Voices, I’d like to have Alain Stephens share some of his stories and perspectives on a podcast. Particularly, I’d like to complicate and nuance conversations about law enforcement officers and how they do their jobs. It seems prescient given our time. Because so much of my podcast touches on identity, politics, pop culture, and intersectionality I’d like to have Mia Warren speak as well. Her work covered diasporic cultural groups in South America and how they navigate that space. I think she could deliver something really enlightening to the discussions about place and identity and they tension they can sometimes have.

Outside of my fellow New Voices, I met several programming managers and directors. I’d like to maintain those connections when needing advice on audience, reach, and distribution. But, that’s being very optimistic and looking very far down the line. It may happen and when it does I know I’ll have connections with many movers and shakers. One such person is Erin Mishkin. She was incredibly nice and I hope to keep in contact with her beyond Third Coast. I met Steve Robinson, Tony Macaluso, David Polk, Lisa Flynn, Suzanne Nance, and several others from WFMT, along with Dave Schulman. This was an incredible opportunity to speak with them in a more relaxed atmosphere and get to know them on a personal level. It was tremendous.

Overall, I met a number independent producers and scores of journalists. In a perfect world, I would be able to create something with all of them, use their skills to make a huge impact, and just take the time to learn from them. In the real world, I’ll work with them eventually, just on a longer timeline. I blame that eager impatience on being from an instant-gratification generation.

The idea of improvements is a tricky one. I had an overwhelmingly positive first time and feel I would only be able to see cracks, faults, or flaws after becoming a seasoned veteran. Two complaints would be the arrangements for eating and seating during the big sessions were cumbersome and awkward and the speed meet was a little chaotic. These are annoyances at most, but maybe something that can be addressed next time around.

The experience at New Voices will definitely influence my career choice, that much is certain. What the influence is, or how, can only be answered in the future when I consider the trajectory of my life. The conference opened my mind to the possibilities of working in this medium and the influence that work can have on a captive audience. So, whether it be incorporating this awareness into my podcast, being serious in my approach to giving opinions and analysis, or simply finding a career path that uses my voice more the options are expanding and the possible configurations are multiplying.


Berry, EmanueleName: Emanuele Berry

Location: St. Louis, MO

Affiliation: St. Louis Public Radio

First, I would like to say that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be an Air New Voices Scholar. It was an amazing.  Third Coast was insane — a non-stop weekend of new faces, ideas, and radio – and I loved it. To be surrounded by a community so passionate about radio is rare. It’s great that a conference like this exists.  I met so many people at Third Coast (including 5 Emily’s) and to be honest it was a bit overwhelming. But, it was also inspiring to see so many people dedicated and passionate about public media.
Meeting so many creators was really a wakeup call for me to pursue new ways of storytelling and projects.  When you’re working in an environment where you have to feed the daily news beast, it’s easy to forget about creativity in storytelling. Third Coast really made me think about how I need to push myself to improve in my daily work. To quote the supremely talented producer Young Guru “life starts now.” Witnessing the amazing radio work being done around the world, made me realize I don’t have to wait to start my dream projects.

The sessions at this conference were absolutely amazing. I’ve been to many different media conferences and I’ve never attended to such thoughtful panels that offered lessons and generated dialogue. I also really appreciated the diversity that New Voices brought to the conference. Let’s face it, public media is old and white, but I feel like the presence of New Voices along with the  “Audio Code Switching” panel generated a really important dialogue about diversity throughout the conference.

Reaching out – Sometimes working in radio can feel extremely isolating. This conference made me realize how many other people share my passion and are willing to help.
Sooooo much positivity – Third Coast is a very feel good conference — very self-celebratory. This is not a bad thing. However I was a little overwhelmed by the positivity. I think there is a lot to be gained by examining failures and flaws. Issues of diversity in public media were explored throughout the conference, however I cannot think of any other finger wagging conversations/session ect.

Diversity an ongoing discussion – I talked about diversity in public media a lot at Third Coast. As one of the few minorities in my own newsroom, I think its discussion the medium cannot have enough. I was glad to see so many people at Third Coast with similar concerns about diversity in public.

Shereen Marisol Meraji – It was such a thrill to meet and present Shereen Marisol Meraji for her session “Audio Code Switching: Tackling Race on the Radio.” I appreciated how real she was about the struggles of working within a public media structure, while trying to reach new audiences and avoiding the pitfall of presenting stories from a “standard” perspective. It was really refreshing to hear her address some of the concerns that I have in my work. Her talk inspired me to push back, against expectations, editors and to not be afraid to tell stories from a nontraditional public media perspective.

Ari Daniel – I randomly ended up meeting Ari at a group dinner. He’s an independent producer who works with many different shows, including The World. Ari use to work in science and switched over to radio. The stories he gets to tell are truly amazing and my conversation with him really challenged me to think about the type of work I want to do in the future and possibilities outside of a 9 to 5 job in radio.

I met a lot of people I plan to follow up with — editors who told me to pitch to their programs, and creators who want to collaborate on projects, but I think the most important relationship for me to sustain, is that with public media diversity advocates. During lunch some past New Voices organized diversity roundtables. Part of the discussion focused on what steps could be taken to diversify public media and listenership. One of the things discussed was creating a network, possibly through Facebook or a listserv that would extend the conversation beyond the conference and generate ideas for actions. I would really like to be involved in that continuing effort and I plan to reach out.

In addition, I was lucky enough to have a session with an audio doctor at the conference. During the session I was given the insight I need to finish the short radio documentary I’ve been working on for a while. I’m excited to finish the project and I plan to follow up with some potential distributors I met through the conference.

For the conference -This conference is so jammed packed. It felt like there wasn’t enough time to go to everything and meet all the people I wanted to. I feel like longer breaks would have allowed some breathing room and more time for one-on-one conversation.
Once again, the overall tone of the conference is very self-congratulatory. I think more sessions, which inspire dialogue critical of public media, or that talk about struggles beyond storytelling techniques, would be beneficial. I wish that the content of the discussion between New Voices in the listening session could extend beyond that space.

New Voices – The events that were made mandatory for new voices were great. I really enjoyed the listening session and the speed meet was a great way to force us into (the forever dreaded) networking right off the bat.

I also really appreciated the presence of past New Voices scholars. It was nice to hear what they’ve been up to since attending the confrere and created an even broader sense of community throughout the event.

I’m really glad New Voices were able to get together for a breakfast recap on Sunday morning, however I wished that we had had more time and that it wasn’t during a larger (loud) event. It was hard to hear and difficult to really converse. I think it would be great if there were a mandatory closing listening session similar to the opening one for New Voices.

Third Coast was a bit of a slap in the face for me. In college I was extremely energetic about public radio. I pursued all my ideas and I was working on really creative content independently. When I started my first job in public radio after college, I was burnt-out. A lot of the creativity and fun of radio was gone. I’d become very complacent and was really just going through the motions in my work. My latest position had reenergized me somewhat, but Third Coast really reminded me why I love radio. Third Coast has inspired me to push myself harder, and made me truly appreciate what a wonderful blessing it is to work in public radio.
The conference also made me want to continue to push for diversity in public media. It’s a conversation that came up throughout the conference, but I want to move beyond talk.  One of the things I mentioned in the listening session is that I’m concerned that we only create content about diverse communities and not for them. I really want to push myself to figure out what that looks like. —what does public radio for and not about black communities sound like — Latino, LGBT. If I want to see change, I have to push back and test the boundaries of public radio, morphing it into something that is truly public.


Carino, DanName: Dan Carino

Location: Pasadena, CA

Affiliation: Independent

Overall I had a great and inspiring time at Third Coast and came away with a lot of new contacts, opportunities and ideas. I think partially because I came to the conference with slightly unorthodox background and goals (being a visual journalist interested in audio rather than primarily a radio guy) I had to work a little harder to find those people and ideas that were a perfect fit to support my work, but everyone I met and all the discussions that took place were interesting and inspiring to me nonetheless.

In some cases it was hard to make it to all of the panels that might have benefitted me due to conflicts with other third coast programming or conflicts with new voices programming (ie: I had to leave the panel I introduced early because I wanted to make it to the visual journalism panel which was the most relevant to me). This was totally my fault for waiting the last minute to sign up for a session and also not looking far enough ahead of the sessions offered.

But the overall atmosphere of creativity and excitement for finding innovative ways to tell stories was an invaluable experience. I encountered nothing but enthusiasm and curiosity for the work that I do and hopefully opened other journalists’ and organizations’ minds to a new format.

All of the new voices scholars were really amazing and brought such a diverse set of talents and backgrounds to the table. I only wish I could have seen that diversity reflected in the rest of the conference but I guess that’s why you have the program!

One of the primary lessons I learned was somewhat inadvertent – with so many freelancers and independent producers there, in combination with the panel on making your own way as a podcaster I came away with the impression that it’s really tough to survive in this world without the support of an organization, station etc. this motivated me to take on more collaborative projects with traditional organizations, which some of the contacts I made will hopefully facilitate.

Second, my eyes were opened to the vast array of different storytelling techniques out there, from radio plays to strictly investigative work, to hybrid nonfiction/constructed radio documentaries. The visual journalism panel was incredibly inspiring, seeing some of the innovative ways NPR is experimenting with animation, info graphics, video etc in web packages.

The third thing that was really hit home, looking around the broader conference and in the panel on race, was the importance of programs like the new voices one. It’s pretty hard to avoid noticing, that the majority of the attendees are white and of a similar social background, reflecting the cultural biases of public radio that reinforce the perception that it is very niche and elitist. The discussion in Shereen Meraji’s race panel was very lively and encouraging but the bottom line was – we need to be having this discussion on a broader scale and we need more diverse voices in that discussion.

Anthony Martinez, our new voices captain, was really great about encouraging community among public radio, fostering new voices and having a space to feel like your experience and perspective are validated.

Of the panels that I attended, Laura Sullivan’s on investigative radio really made an impression on me. While I don’t make radio stories, she talked a lot about journalism fundamentals, story structure and becoming confident in yourself as a reporter and voice of your story. I came away with a lot of lessons that are really applicable to the work that I do, which is mostly social justice-driven and revolving around scenes, though visual rather than audio.

On that note, Kainaz Amaria was probably the most important contact I made. I attended her panel on visual journalism and had a chance to chat with her at the mixer that night. She was great at giving me ideas about how NPR is conceiving of representing “public radio” in the online space and using visual elements. I introduced her to the illustrated visual journalism I do and she seemed really interested in a possible future collaboration. I’ll definitely be following up and possibly visiting her at NPR in the near future.

My suggestion has to do with finding ways of creating more unstructured mingling time to meet people and find connections. I found it somewhat difficult to meet people outside of the new voices group and the speed meet format was a bit overwhelming for me. The big mingle events were somewhat more successful but I was so tired by Sat night I missed one to take a nap. Maybe something slightly structured like the speed meet but not as crazy and quick where you could link up with people with similar interests etc.

I definitely think this experience will affect my career, it offered me the chance to learn skills that can improve my work (ie sound design, investigative etc) and most of all, the chance to meet people to collaborate with. I think public radio can be a very good fit for future collaborations, hopefully soon!


Cueva, OliviaName: Olivia Cueva

Location: Berkeley, CA

Affiliation: Youth Radio/Independent

Generally, I feel really positive about my New Voice experience at Third Coast (though it flew by and it all seems like a blur). It was exciting to feel connected to so many talented people in radio.  I especially liked starting off the conference hearing from people who shared similar concerns and hopes for media, but I wish there was more structured time to get to know the New Voices better. I came to Third Coast knowing a lot of people from different circles in radio, and I’m not sure I would have felt as included if I knew no one. It was definitely one of the only experiences I’ve had in a majority white space where I’ve felt included, that I belong, that I had a right to be there. I think coming in with the New Voices cohort had a lot to do with that feeling, and it would have been even stronger if I could have spent more time with the New Voices.

It stood out to me that most of the people of color /minority voices at Third Coast were current or past New Voice Scholars. I have mixed feelings about this. I love that this scholarship exists because it apparent it is really bringing in new voices to the table, but it makes me so sad that without it, there would be a lot less brown people at the conference.
The diversity breakout session at lunch needed more tables. I was so happy there was an interest in this breakout session (and I could not attend because I had to work the AIR table during that time) but there were too few tables.

I wish I spent more time engaging with more New Voices. I feel like I missed some opportunities to collaborate.

Thanks to Anthony, I was able to get up the courage to talk to one of my radio heroes Joe Richmond. I love the radio diaries style and think it is super important when telling stories that are not your own. I was interested in learning how the process worked, how long he gives out equipment, how often people record, and how they work they create the final story. I ended up spending more time talking to Melissa, who was featured in a teenage radio diary back in the 1990’s. She gave me personal insight into the experience, and said that it was recording that diary that she felt like she really started her life.

I think the person who made the strongest impression on me was my fellow new voice Thomas Reid. Before meeting him, I never registered how important audio is to people who cant see. I am inspired by his advocacy work and share the similar goal of trying to make people’s stories interesting, even if there is no arc.

I took home hella business cards and want to follow up with everyone! I am really looking forward to checking out Sarah Alvarez’s work at Michigan Radio, and collaborating because our interests align. I’m definitely going to follow up with Thomas Reid to learn more about his blindness advocacy work and maybe contribute in some way. I want to check in with Cal about future animation projects. I also want to be in touch with Shereen from Code Switch about working with her in the future.

I would recommend one more scheduled meet up for the New Voices on Saturday, as a mid conference check-in. It would have been nice to regroup before the last day of the conference. I think there should be more lunch breakout sessions that explore different topics. I think the next big discussion (like this year’s one about ethics) should be about how to include more diverse voices in public radio AND how to reach out to a non-traditional public radio audience. I also would recommend telling people to bring food if it will not be provided (I’m thinking specifically of the first day).

On the plane back home, I had an idea for a podcast and got really excited about it. I don’t think I would have had this idea if it weren’t for my experience at Third Coast and I definitely would not have had the opportunity to come to the conference without the New Voices scholarship. I came away with knowledge about the possibilities of sound design and felt, more so than ever, that there are people who listen to and work in public radio who feel left out of the stories being produced. I feel like I have a community in radio – that’s amazing!


Mariana Dale grad photos

Name: Mariana Dale

Location: Glendale, AZ

Affiliation: The Arizona Republic

Very rarely do I have the opportunity to hang out 25 people as cool/inspiring/creative/eccentric as the New Voices class of 2014.  As a student, I hitched myself to any scholarship that would get me to a conference, but never had I been to anything like Third Coast.  I don’t think there was a better way to start a weekend than sitting in a circle with talented, curious and, in the words of Susan, EXTRAordinary people.  The opening session really set the tone for the rest of the conference. Plus, I exhausted a weekend’s worth of anxiety trying to think of a pithy, yet poignant three-minute introduction so anything after that was low-key.
It was easy to see how each of the events gave the New Voices a different way to engage with the conference. Without prodding, I would not have participated in the speed-meet. I’m still not entirely sure I followed all the rules, but I got out of my comfort zone and that was valuable. Introducing a one of the session speakers was a chance to meet face-to-face with a radio-great, but also an opportunity to talk up the accomplishments of my fellow new voices. All of these events should be preserved for the next flock of New Voices.

Despite my initially starry-eyed reaction to everyone in the program (remind me how I got here again?) I realized that everyone in that room at the beginning of the weekend was still working to figure out where their work, passion and path fits into the big media picture. In that regard, we were much the same.

Talk to everyone! I had so many pleasant conversations in the elevator, in the bathroom and waiting in line for lunch. People were excited to be there and eager to share where they were from and what they had learned so far.
Engage with the sessions. Shereen Marisol Meraji’s session on diversity in public media had the most #RealTalk of any session. The audience didn’t shy away from asking critical questions of how diversity is portrayed in public media, but also refrained from attacking one person or story. Shereen owned the challenges that still exist for producers who work within the media machine which opened the floor to a lot of dialogue on how editor and reporters can work together to do higher quality work.

Do things that scare you. None of the people I talked to or the speakers at the sessions started with an idea that had been buoyed by waves of support. They loved their concept and that was enough to get them started.

I came back with a (mostly) legible notebook full of tips, tricks and snappy phrases from the breakout sessions. The two sessions I was most eager to share with my roommate were Laura Sullivan’s investigative reporting session and Marianne McCune’s crash course in making news stories good stories. Investigative work is intimidating and seems unattainable for someone just starting out on a new beat. But Sullivan boiled down every investigative report to answering two basic questions: Why is this happening and who is responsible?
It sticks, literally, it’s on a sticky note attached to my work computer. McCune’s presentation was also powerful in that it cooked down to simple rules for adding more character to news stories. If you linger, you’re more likely to get details that will turn actualities into real people. Also, armpits make great makeshift mic stands for collecting tricking ambient sound from the inside of a fridge. That’s gold.

I have a stack of business cards at home. I know it’s up to me to make the connection between those emails and future pitches or networking opportunities. I met a few people who said their shows are always looking for freelance pitches, so it’s on me to generate them. However, something I also took away from Third Coast is that there could be a way for me to incorporate audio and other multimedia ideas into the work I produce for the newspaper. Jenn Brandel of Curious City really inspired me to reach out to the community to generate story ideas. It’s a concept that works for any medium.

I was really glad Anthony and Bec planned a wrap-up breakfast on the last day of Third Coast. I think it’s a testament to how tight knit the group was that more than a dozen people showed up to breakfast at 7:30 a.m. after a night of dancing and possibly other debauchery. If not a requirement, this should be a highly recommended option for next year. It was nice to hear what people were taking away from the sessions and it forced me to reflect on what I had gained so far and what I wanted to accomplish the last day of the festival.
As far as conference content, I would really like to see a session that incorporates the work of people like Dan and Cal, visuals people who are lending their skills to public media to help stories come alive online.

Yes, definitely. I started college with only the vaguest sense of how studying journalism would change the trajectory of my life. I graduated knowing I wanted to be a reporter and a storyteller. I was armed with the ability to write, take photos, record audio, mix stories, but was (and am still a bit) entirely unsure of how to fit all those pieces together.

Right now, I work as a print reporter for more conventional news outlet, but the good news is, I work with people who are open trying new things. But Third Coast reminded me that outside of my real-person job, there is a whole universe of zany audio adventures to take. I have the tools– the only thing in the way is me.

Conferences are a mental/physical overload of the best kind. My head is full of knowledge, my bag is full tchotchkes and business cards and my heart is hopeful for the future.  All of these warm fuzzy feelings are enhanced knowing that I can Tweet, email, poke and otherwise pester the New Voices when I need to regain some of the inspiration I captured at Third Coast.


De Leon, JaysonName: Jayson De Leon

Location: Orlando, FL

Affiliation: NPR Internship

As I listened to the names of people being honored for their work at the Awards Ceremony Sunday night, I began to jot down notes trying to describe what I had felt all weekend.  I have a tendency to over-romanticize things, but looking around at the faces of such a dynamic and diverse group of artists I began to get an understanding of what this weekend was all about – bringing together this small community to create our own little radio version of Plato’s Academy.

Immediately, I began to appreciate all the great people who helped me find my way to that seat and all the creative people I was surrounded by.  Making stuff is hard.  Trying to honestly capture what’s in your head in physical form is one of the most revealing processes a person can go through and the people in this room subject themselves to it everyday.  When you’re able to understand and appreciate what it takes to make great art then you begin to empathize and realize that the people walking on-stage overcame or continue to overcome all the same anxieties you have.  And they want to help you do it too.

Looking back now, for as long as I can remember I wanted to be a part of a creative community, but I didn’t know how or if they even existed.  I found that place at Third Coast and in the truest sense of the word, I felt like I belonged.  So thanks to everybody who had a hand in making this happen, through all of you, I was able to find a little bit more of myself.

This may not be a lesson or an impression, but I left the conference reminded of the reason we tell stories in the first place.  A good story sticks with people because they don’t only tell what happened, they use different aspects of human nature to put us right there, in the moment, with these people, places, or things.  Empathy is a powerful device in storytelling and the intimacy that radio provides allows us to identify with whatever is coming through the speakers or headphones.  In turn, we begin to realize that if we can connect with others, then others connect with us as well.

I met a ton of people in Chicago – producers I admire, hosts I aspire to, and all around interesting people doing interesting things, but the person who made the strongest impression on me was a fellow New Voice, Mariana Dale.  She’s an incredibly talented reporter that was fully engaged in what was going on at the conference.  We talked about things we both wanted to get better at with some real honesty and that was refreshing.  The difference being that she has more talent and drive in her pinky finger than I do in my whole being.  If you’re around her, grab some coattail and hang on for the ride, because she’s the type of person who will be great at anything she does.

There’s a certainly people I met that I would love to work with one day.  The insanely hardworking Andrea Silenzi who somehow finds the time to do The Gist everyday and her own bi-weekly’ish show Why Oh Why.  Crazy.  Also, I had the chance to introduce Alix Spiegal for one of her presentations and was fascinated by the way she thought, so I’m interested in her new project Invisibilia, and anyway I can help out there.  I also met back up with the kind people at Planet Money who propelled me into the radio world this past summer as their intern.  If I ever get the shot to jump back on-board with them, I’d do it in a heartbeat.  Great people, big hearts.

It’s really hard for me to find stuff to critique about this conference or program.  I graduated in Economics, so the last conference I attended was at the Dallas Federal Reserve and it was brutal.  Believe it or not, economists (by in large) are even more boring than you think they are (so when you find a good one, hang onto them!).  Between the preachy presentations and the ineffective time management it was one of the most mind numbing things I’ve ever been a part of.  Basically, what I’m trying to say is don’t be the Federal Reserve.

However, I did have one idea, and it’s potentially awful, but here it is. Essentially, it would be turning the speed meet into a radio version of the Bachelor.  Whoever is participating gets one rose (or the radio equivalent – headphones) that they can use at any point during their speed meets to give to another person.  Those two people then get a chance to talk for 10-15 minutes during the last round.  I say this because I remember meeting a particularly interesting person one round and totally not getting their name, forgetting their face, and not seeing them again all weekend.  And the obvious flaws with this idea can’t even begin to be addressed in 300 words or less.

The New Voice experience will absolutely influence my professional direction.  On top of all the great people I met, I walked away with some real inspiration to continue finding ways to tell stories.  Right now I’m diving into some TV, but that’s just another tool in a wide range of mediums that can be used to get what’s in your head out into the world.  Radio has and will continue to have a specific lure for me because of my fascination with the way people & things sound.  I hope to see everyone again at the next one!  Thanks for everything.


Goknur, SinanName: Sinan Goknur

Location: Durham, NC

Affiliation: Duke University

Overall, I was really humbled by the amount of talent, warmth, and generosity around me.  The Air Media crew and the NV alumni were available and helpful at all times, not to mention engaging and fun to be around.  A definite pro was the NV kick off meeting before the conference started, I would keep this every year.  Despite all the chaos, speed meet turned out to be a helpful event as well, I made a couple connections that I wouldn’t have otherwise.  I missed the Sunday brunch (I would strongly recommend everybody to stay in the conference hotel, will do so myself next time).  I was able to do a final touch base with NV cohort during the Unconferencing session on Sunday, another pro event.  It would be great to know where the recommendations developed during that session will end up, is there a next step in the process or was that discussion contained to the tables?

New Voices kick off meeting before everything else is more grounding than I could anticipate.  It may be even better to have all Air Media crew and the alum to be more of an integral part of the circle than facilitators for quicker bonding.

Stay at the conference hotel or no further than 10 min walking distance.

Production conferences are filled with practical and pragmatic workshops, which I love.  Socializing/networking aspect was not the easiest at times but hey that is conferencing for you.

I met many people.  Ones that made the strongest impression on me included Ann Kane, Nina Tran, Jenny Asarnow (I became a fan of the youth radio workshop at KUOW).  Sabina Maddila for attempting to bring seemingly distant worlds together and keeping her engagement in both. Joceyln Robinson’s archival work was very intriguing.  Abigail Lanier, Mia Warren and Sarah Alvarez were some of the other New Voicers that I got a chance to talk to and they all made strong impressions on me for their community oriented work and creative approaches to social justice issues.

Out of the Air Media crew, I had the most opportunity to talk with Anthony Martinez, Louis, Bec, and Sue Schardt. I am impressed with all Air Media folks for their charismatic selves and ability to run such a tight ship with such chill attitude.

I am going to become a member of Air Media so I hope to stay in touch with folks through that. I also hope to keep in touch with Jocelyn Frank and Jenny Asarnow for our shared interest in installation work and the use of audio in art installations.

In some ways, it may be good to have a little more structured alliance building time among the New Voicers, at the same time I realize that many people are there to network with the presenters and other professionals from the larger Third Coast community.  Maybe one little gathering event on every day would accommodate (you already had Friday and Sunday covered so one event on Saturday could be nice to create continuity)

I plan on becoming an Air Media member and continue following Third Coast so if nothing else, this experience increased my network.  I became interested in finding mentors and mentoring myself for less experienced media makers.  Some of the sessions helped improve my understanding of narrative audio (the cinematographic approaches resonated with me particularly) so I am excited to employ these new skills and see where it takes my future work.


Holding Eagle, MatthewName: Mathew Holding Eagle II

Location: Fergus Falls, MN

Affiliation: Independent

The general overview of my new voice experience was mostly positive. I met people in the field of audio that were some of the most passionate people I’ve ever come across at what they do. Coming from a visual background like I do, it was great to hear the speakers and attendees strategies for telling a complete, comprehensive story, with just sound.

Everyone I met in attendance including the speakers were more than willing to talk and the support I felt was one of the highlights of the conference. There was no not one person there that I felt like wouldn’t talk if I approached them. In that type of setting that says a lot.

Before the conference I was apprehensive about what I would learn and what I would take away from this journey. In the end, I found myself motivated to give audio storytelling a try and the tools to make it a reality.

The biggest con of the conference was something I deal with quite a lot. The stereotypes of being a fair skinned Native American, while challenging, is also disconcerting. It also showed me how much people really know about the native community or its diverse history. It is a historical fact that the plains American Indians are fairer skinned than most, and more importantly the Mandan tribe (which I am) have a genetic mutation that for centuries had members born with light hair and blue eyes even before their interactions with Europeans.

On more than one occasion I felt like I had to prove myself and my ethnicity to a few of the attendees because of their skepticism. That’s a game I refused to play. At the same time because of those interactions I felt like a few of the attendees thought I was trying to capitalize on my being a mixed-blood native. Those interactions were few and far between but they still left a sour taste in my mouth.

The top lessons or impressions I walked away with are storytelling is storytelling, no matter the format. It’s the heart of what we do. If someone knows what comprises a good story and can tell a good story with a beginning, middle and end than the format through which they tell it is irrelevant.

I also took away that while the audience is an important part of the storytelling process, they’re not the most important factor, don’t overthink what people will take away from your work, be true to the story, and let the audience take from it what they will.

The person I met at the conference that made the biggest impression on me was Todd Melby. Although I’ve known him since last year, his pep talks and confidence inspired me while at the conference to keep a level head and not be intimidated by all the great minds. He mentored me throughout the experience and was instrumental in me even applying to be a new voice. Melby also taught me what to pay attention to while I was listening to speakers, and after many of the sessions he would debrief me on what I learned, and allowing me to retain a lot of what I learned while processing what I didn’t understand.

B.) A professional connection I expect to follow up on is a meeting with Tony Macaluso, director of network marketing and the Studs Terkel radio archive for WFMT in Chicago. The potential project and the collaboration we talked about would be a 13-part radio series about Native American music, and drawing parallels to other indigenous people and their music from around the globe. This is a great opportunity for me and was made possible because of my involvement with AIR. It would also be my first foray into radio, but having learned so much as a new voice I’m confident I’ll be able to get the job done.

Recommendations I have for AIR are keep doing what you’re doing. The people running the ship at the conference are a tight knit group of professionals. They treated everyone with respect, and if asked a question in person or through email, they responded in a prompt and thorough manner, often times going as far as following up to make sure the questions you asked were answered and that you fully understood the answer.

Recommendations for Third Coast I have would be more room. There were many times the sessions I attended were standing room only once the seats filled up. While that’s a good thing, when the sessions lasted longer than an hour it became a daunting task to ignore the body’s discomfort and pay attention to the speakers.

Recommendations I have for The New Voice Program would be more group activities between the new voices. Some of the new voices I met I didn’t get to talk to as much as I wanted to. I would have liked to do the speed meet with just fellow new voice members.

I do believe my new voice experience will influence my professional direction because I made a lot of contacts. Also the confidence I have as a storyteller is a theme that kept recurring among speakers, attendees and new voices, ‘if you can tell a story, the format doesn’t matter.’ Although I’m apprehensive about delving into radio because I have no experience with it, I have no doubt that the lessons, pointers and wisdom I learned as a new voice will stay with me, influencing my work for the better.


Horowitz, AlexiName: Alexi Louis Mahmud-Ghazi Horowitz

Location: Portland, OR

Affiliation: Oregon Public Broadcasting

My New Voice experience was extremely positive on the whole. I was impressed by my fellow scholars, inspired by the sessions I heard, and delighted at the opportunity to meet many of my public radio heroes and get a personal sense of the radio landscape. It was just a whole lot of fun. I was admittedly overwhelmed on a few occasions by the pace and frenzy of the conference, but that was to expected, and I don’t think that AIR or Third Coast should/could work to fix that. As a relative newcomer to the world of radio, I felt like an outsider out of my league at various moments, but I also felt that Anthony and the AIR team were very supportive and available to answer my questions when they arose. On the whole, I am extremely grateful for having been invited by AIR, and I feel inspired and reinvigorated about my radio work. I am all the more excited to attend Third Coast next time with a couple more years of solid experience under my belt and some more specific collaborative project ideas in mind.

THE WORLD OF PUBLIC RADIO IS SMALL AND PERSONAL: Firstly, I was impressed by how small and accessible the world of radio storytelling and reporting really is. The conference allowed me to see the professional radio community on a human scale, as a landscape built out of individual relationships, and it was empowering to see such a sizeable part of that community gathered together to celebrate the medium.

BETWEEN STORYTELLING AND NEWS IS THE PLACE TO BE (for me): Talks by Marianne McCune, Alix Spiegel, and Shereen Marisol Meraji challenged and inspired me to think about news writing and journalism differently— with storytelling and human emotion as central considerations.

My audio doctor session with Alex Blumberg inspired me to cut out the voice of experts out of my stories whenever possible, to always strive to find to the human heart of the story. Speaking with Laura Sullivan before introducing her talk on investigative reporting and radio was equally inspiring. Her passion for dogged research and reporting and for finding and holding public figures accountable for their actions was infectious—it made me eager to get into longer-form stories and more investigative reporting. Alix Spiegel’s talk about story structure and editing inspired me to start complexifying the way I layer different voices in my news reporting. Marianne McCune’s session inspired me to be more creative in my news reporting and writing—to allow my own voice to be more of a presence and linger just a little bit longer in search of poignant, human moments.
I’m applying to intern at NPR— the Investigations Unit, and potentially to Planet

Money— decisions which were inspired in large part by meeting and speaking with Robert Smith, Alex Blumberg, Laura Sullivan, and several of my fellow New Voices, among others. I’m planning on reaching out to them about these applications, and as I develop my reporting and producing skills, I hope to contact them and many others I met at Third Coast to pitch stories and consult about career trajectories. I was also impressed and inspired by Shereen Marisol Meraji’s Code Switch session, and while I never got the opportunity to speak with her at the conference I plan on following up with her in the future. Seeing the pitch panel inspired me to start coming up with pitches for regional and national shows, and gave me a good sense of the important elements that I’ll need to include.

It’s very easy to get lost in the parade of people and events at Third Coast, and to lose your fellow New Voices in the maelstrom. I would have liked to have had the option to have dinner or spend some of my down time with fellow New Voices without having to track them down individually. A cell-phone contact list or message board might be a good logistical idea for future years.

My New Voices experience will absolutely influence my professional direction. First, meeting my fellow New Voices and experiencing Third Coast reaffirmed my love and admiration for the medium and my desire to continue to work in public radio. I came away from the weekend reinvigorated and excited to delve deeply into my reporting and radio work, and to bring more storytelling elements into my news writing. It was empowering to see the number of excellent young producers working in radio, and the accessibility of experienced producers to story pitches and ideas. My experience also reaffirmed my sense of the need for a wider spectrum of voices and perspectives in public radio. I plan to take that to heart in choosing subjects and interviewees in my own reporting, and in collaborating with other radio reporters and producers on important issues. I hope to be able to work with some of my fellow New Voices sometime in the near future. Again I’d like to thank everyone at AIR and Third Coast for inviting me to attend as a New Voice. It was an amazing experience, both personally and professionally.


Johns, RafaelName: Rafael Johns

Location: Richmond, CA

Affiliation: Youth Radio

Being a New Voice was an honor more than anything. The title was shared with some of the most interesting people in public radio, I feel like, from very different backgrounds, all of whom had to different things they were really looking for, as far as being a New Voice and at the Third Coast conference. It was also a pleasure to feel like I had a group of people I could talk at any and all events, which just made getting around the conference and going to talks so much easier. Helping with set up, and being made to feel both useful and valuable, are things I’ve been carrying inside myself as a young journalist.  Still, I feel like there wasn’t enough time to get to know most of the people there, I can be rather shy, and it can be difficult for me to just go up to people and start conversations. So many people had so much going on, that other than collecting people’s personal cards like comic books, I didn’t have much time to just talk to some of them. So more time for people to connect would be nice.

The greatest lessons I learned as part of this experience were that A) I am not alone. There are so many other people who want to see radio change and become something new. This is really important, because radio is one of those places where a lot of people don’t think the crowd producing content is that diverse, and I share in that. Making sure the next New Voices are given a heads up about what exactly this group is for will be the biggest struggle, because the more people understand there is a space for them the more people will come.

Jocelyn Robinson made one of the strongest impressions on me. We had an incredible discussion about being a POC, specifically being a mixed poc, in radio, and in the radio world. It was so nice to hear the perspective of an older mixed person about public radio, and nice to hear her thoughts on how we could bring our experiences into the world of radio. B) I hadn’t previously known Olivia Cueva, but after having multiple conversations, taking part in the Racial Diversity in Audio talk, and realizing she’d served as a reporter for Youth Radio before, I wanted to work more with her. My hope is that between the two of us, we would be able to really create a piece that speak to us on an emotional level as something we’d want to hear on broadcast.

I also have no idea how I would have paid for this if I wasn’t connected to Youth Radio, and having the grant money sent after the fact is a model that can work for some people, but not if you want a large portion of the diverse crowd in public radio to be able to show up. And that’s something the conference needs. The current structure is great, and I learned a lot, but the New Voices should be only a part of the diverse culture of Third Coast. Maybe having more speakers from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, and of different sexualities and genders?

Before coming to Third Coast, I really wasn’t sure about whether or not I fit into the world of radio journalism, and whether or not there even was a market of people who would be interested in helping me create a space for marginalized young people through audio storytelling.  But so many of the people who were there seemed interested in the idea of fiction for young people and for marginalized people. It inspired me, and I started thinking of doing journalism, of writing and helping other people write and find spaces for that writing, more seriously. And all of the ideas I came up with, from how to engineer sound to how to format the writing itself and the format of a podcast, I can credit that all to Third Coast.


Kane, AnnName: Ann Kane

Location: Seattle, WA

Affiliation: KUOW Seattle/RadioActive

I had a great time attending the Third Coast International Audio festival as an AIR New Voice scholar. It was my first time attending a professional conference and without the support of Anthony and Bec I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much. It was also great knowing that there were 25 other people who knew who I was while I was at the conference. In ever session I recognized one or two people from the group which was really nice. It helped having everyone’s introduction email, because when I got to Chicago I already knew a little bit about each person so it wasn’t like walking into a room of complete strangers.

I learned a lot about the logistics of conferencing while at the conference. First of all mental preparation is key. It is as important, if not more important, then physical preparation.  I went into the conference without knowing what I wanted to get out of it. I didn’t have a list of people I wanted to meet. I knew which sessions I wanted to attend but that was about it. So on the first night I had to sit down and do some intense soul searching in order to make the most of the next few days. I think if I had been pushed a little harder to think about what I wanted out of the conference at the beginning, I would have put more thought into it before I came. My second lesson would be to act first and think later.  I probably would not have attended the AIR speed meet if it had not been a requirement. Those were the most awkward conversations I had all weekend. But it helped break the ice and I was more comfortable talking to people after that.

While the number of the people at the conference was overwhelming I did get to meet a few people who I hope to follow up with. The two people who left the biggest impression on me were Kate Montague and Cal Tabuena-Frolli.

Kate is a producer form Australia. She is doing her PHD research on the effect of interviewing process on those being interviewed. This was something that I also thought about when doing my own interviews and I am excited see the results of her research.

Cal was one of my fellow new voices. I was really impressed by how confident he is about his place as a visual artist in the world of radio. It was kind of a model of how I should approach people when I am talking about my own skills.

Two other people I met were John Biewen and Andrew Bowen. John is the audio program director with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. His center runs several workshops on how to produce radio documentaries and I am hoping to attend one this summer. I have wanted to put together a radio documentary for a long time and this seemed like a really good opportunity to learn how.

Andrew Bowen has worked with several international news outlets including DW. I have been looking into job opportunities overseas so I am excited to hear about his advice for working outside of the US.

I think conference as a whole was really good but I do have a few recommendations for the New Voice Program. The listening session before the conference was good but it wasn’t long enough. The second half of the conversation was cut short and I wanted to hear more of what people had to say. I didn’t feel like there was enough time for a dedicated talk later in the conference either.  I think there could have been better communication around why exactly we were at the conference. I had a hard time explaining to my family and friends what the scholarship was and I ended up just saying that it was a way to get more diverse people into public radio. I don’t think this statement was a good explanation of the program but I couldn’t have come up with a better one before the conference.

This conference will influence my professional direction but I don’t know how. The whole weekend was a constant reminder of how much work I haven’t been doing.  Every time someone asked me what I wanted, or what I was doing at the conference I didn’t know what to say. I think it’s because I haven’t asked myself those questions. I have been working in radio in some capacity, since high school and I think I am starting to take it for granted. I’ve lost some of the excitement that I had when I first started. If anything the Third Coast weekend will force me to start answering those questions and figuring out how to get excited about radio again.


Khrais, ReemaName: Reema Khrais

Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Affiliation: North Carolina Public Radio

I didn’t know what to expect when I first received the New Voices scholarship: Would I make long-lasting friends? Would I have especially enriching conversations? What does it mean? I’m not sure if there’s a “right” kind of New Voice experience. It’s very much dependent on the kinds of conversations you have and the people you happen to engage with. For me, it was an experience defined by casual & insightful chats, fleeting moments of conviction (one second I want be a local reporter forever and the next I’m considering traveling overseas) and useful tidbits of information from accomplished journalists.

More generally, my experience reminded me of all the amazing, creative and productive work that others in the audio field are pursuing. It reminded me that I can be bolder, I can push boundaries and that I need to simply create more.

While I left the conference feeling incredibly inspired and rejuvenated, I was still itching to continue conversations and dig a little deeper into some of the topics we discussed. During the listening session, for example, I was excited to hear people’s reflections on our purpose as storytellers and journalists – especially as it relates to reaching different audiences and community involvement. Those are questions that I worry and think about often. Generally speaking, I also appreciated the conference’s commitment to providing spaces to talk about race and identity, and how they fit into the storytelling and production process. I think some serious issues about diversity in the audio realm were raised throughout the conference, especially during the workshop with Shereen Marisol Meraji from Code Switch.

There are many ways to tell a story: While my focus is on new reporting, it was refreshing to be around folks with different interests and backgrounds (illustrators, reporters with print experience) who share similar missions.

People want to help: Conference goers want to collaborate and connect. Sometimes you meet the most interesting people while waiting in line for food, standing in the elevator, or washing your hands in the bathroom.

We need more storytellers & journalists from different experiences and perspectives. It made me uncomfortable to hear diverse and/or minority voices in the audio pieces played during the conference, yet not see those people represented among conference-goers.

The person who made the strongest impression on me was Marianne McCune. I’m a fan of her work. Her pieces to me feel raw, personal and genuine. I grew even fonder of her reporting style after hearing her workshop on ‘Making News Stories Good Stories.’

As a news reporter, I struggle making predictable, dry political stories interesting. Her advice encouraged me to think more creatively when approaching story ideas: to rely on ‘real people’ over experts, to capture the “in-between” moments, to linger during interviews and to remember the details.

But I think the real reason she made the strongest impression on me is because she was just so honest. It was obvious that she thinks critically about her work and strives to be great – not just so she can win awards or pat herself on the back, but because she actually cares about her subjects and stories. I was surprised when she told me that she was nervous about giving her talk. Even though she has more credentials than half of the folks at the conference, she was refreshingly humble and modest.

I hope to connect with Daniel Estrin, a journalist from Jerusalem. I met him at the Speed Meet and ran into him multiple times during the conference. We talked about some of his coverage and he encouraged me to consider reporting in Gaza since I have family there. I had already been considering that as a possibility after my WUNC fellowship, but didn’t think of it as a real option until talking with Estrin.

I also connected with the creators of Israel Story. They encouraged me to pitch human-interest stories relating to Gaza and/or the West Bank.

I also enjoyed meeting some fellow education reporters, like Matt Collette, who’s currently freelancing for WNYC. He’ll be a great person to bounce story and series ideas with.

Overall, I was impressed by the workshops and flow of the Third Coast conference. I had some issues with the Speed Meet because of how difficult it was to navigate the room and tight chairs. Conceptually, I love the idea, but the noise and chaos levels sometimes made it challenging to engage in productive conversations. I wonder if the chairs could be arranged to better accommodate one-on-one conversations, or the event could be organized around small groups instead.

As far as workshop selection, I wondered if there could have been more sessions geared toward skills training. For example, sessions on radio writing, voicing or best techniques for storytelling. I didn’t think that the conference needed those types of sessions, but I wondered if it could benefit from them.

While I think the listening session was very wonderful and necessary for the New Voices, I think we could have benefited from a closing session as well. It would have been nice to debrief together for a couple of hours to go over some of our questions, concerns and hopes. We did that briefly at breakfast on Sunday, which I thought was great, but it would have been beneficial to have a more formal gathering, if time permitted. It would’ve also allowed us to form stronger connections.

During the listening session, I wish we had more time to continue the conversation we began after all of the introductions. I think it could’ve led to an even more engaging and rich discussion. Maybe we could have met beforehand for a group lunch or even a group dinner the night before.

Yes, I think this experience will definitely shape my professional direction. As I mentioned above, it has inspired me to think more seriously about reporting abroad next year. It also encouraged me to think more critically about my purpose as a journalist. While I’m often pondering my journalistic aims, the conference reminded me to think deeply about my role in the communities I serve. I want to create work for my communities, I want to be inclusive and thoughtful, and I want to do work that inspires change.


Kwong, EmilyName: Emily Kwong

Location: Sitka, AK

Affiliation: KCAW – Sitka

There was a Mad Lib hidden in the Third Coast Conference nametag. Did you catch it?

It began: First Name, Last Name.

Then a blank space where we divulged the nouns of our work status (Organization/Affiliation/Independent).

The beauty of the New Voices Scholarship was that the blank space was filled in for us. The Third Coast Conference is rich in conversation, and by the same token, has the potential to be overwhelming. Within the networking maze of that palatial hotel, it was easy to feel adrift, shy, or exhausted, especially if you are young, new to the industry, and/or an independent. But with “AIR’s New Voices,” you can tether your line to a powerful identity – think, “I am a New Voice” – and not worry about whether or not you belonged.

I strongly feel that being a part of this group gave us a more purpose-driven, immersive, and meaningful experience at Third Coast, for several reasons.

The brain trust. I found the New Voice group vibrant, supportive, and unafraid to disturb the status quo, especially in workshops. During the “Tackling Race on the Radio” breakout, I strongly feel the discussion got to a place of authentic reflection about NPR conventions and fraught reporting on minorities because of the comments made by New Voicers. The active voices of alumni, especially Luis Antonio Perez, suggested the tradition continues and that we are a part of a bigger movement to diversity public radio. And I was so inspired by the work being done by members of the group, such as Sarah Alverez’s “State of Opportunity Project” or Thomas Reid’s advocacy organization, to name a few. It’s more than voices and words. It’s people and actions.
AIR as oxygen. The entire team from AIR—Sue Schardt, Bec Feldhaus Adams, Betsy Donovan, and Noland Walker—gave us several check-in points throughout the weekend. These were invaluable opportunities to reflect and stow away ideas for visitation later.
Getting off on the right foot. Whoever decided to bump up the Listening Session to Friday made an excellent choice. By far, this was the most powerful session for me. In that circle of chairs, listening to the group talk about their worries and inspirations was at once moving and therapeutic. Critical questions were asked and powerful answers ventured. Newsroom politics. Tokenization. Neglected audiences and pigeonholed stories. I never knew how badly I wanted to talk about the problems in public media out loud. We seemed to empower one another, an underground contingent seeding ideas and arming ourselves for the weekend. Captain Anthony Martinez did an excellent job of facilitating our discussion, both online in the week’s prior and in person. Sue Schardt substantiated our presence with words of welcome and progress. I was so touched by her remarks; it set a special tone for the day.

Build your own curriculum. Since I work in a newsroom and cover tribal issues, it helped tremendously to isolate those workshops that would help me at this stage in my career. Ask yourself: “What can I learn now that will help me grow later?” I chose talks related to news reporting, race, and community media, trying to draw connections and go for depth (vs. breadth). In other words, don’t nibble on everything. In the maze of Third Coast, isolate the stinkiest cheese and hunt it down.

Skip class. On my way to a workshop, Betsy O’Donovan invited me to get coffee with her and a friend. The conversation was great and I walked away with some valuable ideas for how to pitch to NPR. Don’t be afraid to break form at Third Coast; remember that all the workshops are recorded and put online. Take breaks. Make time for one-on-one conversation, for these are often the most valuable. Oh, and go to the dance party. Blow off that steam.

Develop a packing list. I e-mailed Bec before our group Skype call to add a packing list to the agenda, mostly because of how woefully underprepared I was last year. Dehydrated. No pen. All this can be avoided with a bit of preparation.

Pens
Notepad
Water bottle
Emergen-C
Aspirin
Resumes
Business cards, or slips of paper with your contact information.
A list of four or five people you definitely, definitely want to talk to.
A goal for yourself: At Third Coast, I want to do this…

Marianne McCune. As far as radio reporters go, her stories possess a palpable love for humanity and incredible tape—sobering, honest tape that has won her three Third Coast awards. Her work with Radio Rookies speaks volumes about her personal ethics and it was fascinating to see how those ethics inform her work process. “Linger; put in the time to build trust.” “Find the details that make people memorable.” “Be honest with yourself about who you are in your story.” Sometimes I wonder if I have to be indifferent to people’s feelings, including my own, to be a daily news reporter. Marianne McCune demonstrated that there is no journalistic truth without human truth. If you can build honesty and transparency into the process, you can do the work without causing needless harm.

Nancy Updike. For her brilliant mind and the way she elevates radio to a real craft, on par with literature. She reminded me that we are wordsmiths, and that understanding the mechanics of words, whether written by us or recorded from others, is the foundation for producing excellent radio. Furthermore, I can’t separate her talk from all the challenging questions that followed. From Ira Glass as a tastemaker to Abby Lanier’s question about disability stories, the intersection showed that as far as radio has come as a medium, it still has so much further to go.

Luis Antonio Perez offered some very good advice the last day of the conference. “Make a list of all the people you want to follow-up with, in order of priority, and e-mail them ASAP.” This is critical, I think, because it’s the only thing that elevates Third Coast from a three-day time warp/public radio fever dream into professional growth.

I was thrilled to pitch a story to Julie Shapiro during an Audio Doctor session and hope to work on it with her this winter for RadioTonic. Laura Starcheski kindly offered to talk to me about the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism. As I’m looking to grow as a news reporter, there are a handful of people I’d like to continue conversations with, including Ben Calhoun, Anna Sale, and Allison MacAdam, as well as the reporters from various NPR-affiliates and community stations. Lane Vanderslice once said something that I think is true: “Going to Third Coast is like having a great first date. Everyone is super interesting, well-spoken, and so genuinely interested in each other.” The natural step then, is to go on a second!

For New Voices: With all the raw creative talent in the room, my only recommendation is that group produces a public statement. After getting to know one another in the first hour of the Listening Session and unpacking our concerns in the second, there was never really a third hour dedicated to organizing around a tangible solution or product. We stopped with all these disparate, lingering thought bubbles above our heads. This is understandable, given the time constraints and perhaps desirable, encouraging us to seek answers on our own. Yet, with all the brainpower in the room, I think we could have done something more—something collective and impactful. Ideas:
A public art project, where everyone writes down a personal statement or answers a “white elephant question” (something we’re thinking about, but afraid to talk about) on banner paper. It’s hung on the walls of the conference for exhibition and to spark dialogue, maybe inviting audience participation. With illustrators (like Dan Carino and Cal Tabuena-Frolli) and artists (like Sinan Goknur) in future groups, something in that vein be really interesting.

Writing a letter to our future selves to be opened at the end of the conference. Cheesy yes, but sometimes it’s helpful to bushwhack through your thought jungle and get this stuff down on paper.
A fact-finding mission, where the group is split up to seek out solutions to three problems we identity. These solutions are gathered in a report and published afterwards (like Stephanie Foo’s AIRblast).

For Third Coast: A tremendous amount of work, much of it untold and unheralded, went into getting this conference together. Johanna Zhorn, Sarah Geis, Dennis Funk, Gwen Macsai, Laura Ng, Maya Goldberg-Safir, and all the interns – thank you! George Drake Jr., a statue should be erected in your honor. Thank you for creating platforms for the New Voices to speak, from panel introductions to those putting our bios in the program. Keep doing things like this! Again, some brainstorming:

Betsy O’Donovan compiled a playlist of our work to share at the AIR table. Publish this playlist on the Third Coast website and send it out in a second e-mail introducing the NV’s work.
Organize a handful of interested NVers as social media scouts and illustrators (e.g. Dan’s great drawings), led by Betsy and Maya. Using set hash tags (e.g. #AIRNV and #TC2016), document the unique experiences and contributions of NVers before and during the conference. (Illustration by Dan Carino)

Offer 25 established producers the chance to be a mini-mentor to a New Voice scholar, maybe for a discount to Third Coast or with a mention in the program (This NV is mentored by X). They are paired based on mutual interest, connect through e-mail beforehand, exchange work, and get breakfast or coffee during the conference.

Yes, swiveling my compass due radio—or at the very least, to use radio as a tool to learn as much as I can about other people. Thank you AIR for creating such a supportive safety net for all of us, within the unique atmosphere of Third Coast.  It was wonderful to see so many individuals from outside of the traditional radio world attend: visuals artists and graphic designers, activists, entrepreneurs, inventors, students. It showed me that the audio world is big and expanding, with for-profit ventures in development, podcasts attracting millions, and consciousness shifting as radio experiments with the form and brings new voices into editing studios. I still need to figure out how I want to contribute, but at the very least, no longer doubt who I serve and the changes that need to be made.


Lanier, AbigailName: Abigail Lanier

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Affiliation: Independent

It’s next to impossible to try new things without having any expectations, but that’s exactly what I attempted to do when preparing to come to the Third Coast 2014 Conference. I had no idea what kinds of people I would meet and the conversations we might have. Getting to kick off the weekend by meeting the other 25 New Voices couldn’t have been a better beginning. Sitting in that hotel conference room and listening to a brief snippet of everyone’s story and what they are passionate about was very motivating. My fears about being a newly to radio production quickly dissipated as I learned the varied experiences of the other NVs. I felt fueled by the energy of my fellow NVs and ready to dive into everything the conference had to offer. The reception and presence of AIR members and staff was equally  as inviting. They were so eager to meet all of us and were helpful in orienting me to where everything would be taking place. My first impression of Third Coast? Welcoming and motivating.

The first lesson I learned at the conference was all experience levels welcome. Having a broadcasting or journalism background is not a requirement. When I would introduce myself as a musical engineer, many encouraged me that I already had skills other producers don’t. The second lesson I learned was that of collaboration. It was so refreshing to meet people who were interested in offering their expertise and wanting what I could offer. My third lesson was the importance of play. A few presenters touched on the power of merely playing with sound; a similar idea to practicing as a musician.

Kaitlin Prest and Brendan Baker talk the most about this idea of playing with audio in their Sound Design sessions. I went to the 101 segment on Saturday looking forward to learning about how I can apply what I already know of audio to good story telling, and I was so inspired by what both of them are doing. Being a musician, I am always listening to music and audio and dissecting it. It came as somewhat of a shock to learn that good sound designers are few and far between. Prest and I talked after the session, and she was open to listening to some of my work. Baker also encouraged me to come out and participate in the New York Radio Club. I plan on taking them both up on their invitations.

I had the opportunity to ask Nancy Updike a question on disability during her presentation Sunday evening, and I ended up getting more feedback from the audience than I would’ve ever imagined. My question stemmed from something I, a person with a disability, have been struggling with: how do those of us working in media share the stories of people with disabilities without focusing on them as a novelty or objectifying them? It’s something that is going to take some serious concentration and effort. There are many stories I want to document and share, but because of the nature of some disabilities, I know, for example, that audiences would find it difficult to listen to a person with cerebral palsy. Many people, most of whom were complete strangers to me, came up after and said how they were motivated by my question. Since the conference I have already had the privilege of following up with Jacob Conrad, an editor for All Things Considered, because of my working up the courage to ask Updike for her thoughts.

Ann Heppermann and I connected after the awards ceremony on Sunday. She knows how to ask great questions, and I’m pretty confident that’s one thing that makes her qualified to work in academia. Prior to the conference I was hesitant and intimidated by pitching to various programs, but after sitting in on the pitch panels and talking to Heppermann I feel like I’m more confident and prepared than I realized. She also offered to listen/look over any of my work.

It would have been nice to hear or read work by the other New Voices prior to the conference. If there is a way to compile scholars’ work and distribute it before the conference I think that could be a great way to receive feedback and promote collaboration. I know that AIR put together a playlist on Sound Cloud of NV’s work to play at the booth, but something more structured for critique could be really beneficial.

Having each of us introduce a presenter seemed to be a wonderful way to exhibit the diversity among the scholars with the other conference goers, and I think that should be something that continues. Likewise, making the initiative to bring everyone back together for a final NV breakfast is a great way to bring the conference to close and begin debriefing.

The connections and experiences I had at Third Coast through my affiliation with AIR will certainly influence my professional goals. Prior to the conference I had been waffling back and forth between diving into the realm of public media. Coming to Chicago was an occasion for me to test out the waters and meet others. I’m not sure that there would have ever been a circumstance like the conference where I could network and gain as much insight as I did. I look forward to returning to Third Coast in a couple of years and looking back at the progress I will have made, the people I will get to catch up with, and all of the stories I will have yet to hear.


Lau, ScottName: Scott Lau

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Affiliation: Independent

The magic that I have experienced as a New Voice at the Third Coast Conference simply cannot be put in words. Being able to meet so many veteran journalists and producers from all across the world was both an eye-opening and awe-inspiring experience. I was able to connect with reporters from foggy San Francisco, writers from bustling New York, and visual artists from my very own sunny Los Angeles. For me, it was such a naked and exposed experience: I was listening to those on the inside of the industry stripping down radio and broadcasting to its bare essentials. These were the experts from major radio stations all over America freely giving away all their insider tips and tricks, and I was eager to steal as many secrets and absorb as many fragments of knowledge as I can.

As one of the New Voices, I felt incredibly welcomed. It is no understatement when they say that AIR’s New Voices really are a family. Everyone was warm and receptive, opening up to me and sharing their funny stories, brilliant ideas, and inspiring legacies. Being one of the youngest in the group, starting off a career can be a daunting and frightening task. But I was both reassured and comforted hearing how others got started and what their process was like. My only wish is that there had been more time to connect with every single New Voice on a deeper level.

I admit, it was bittersweet departing from my newly met friends, but I leave feeling empowered knowing that I will always have a reliable and supportive foundation of fellow denizens of the radio world to guide me as I grow in this field.

Diversity is something that has to be fought for, and as part of the new generation of writers and reporters, the burden falls on my shoulders to make the change.

Every story has a universal, whether that story is about the lineage of a Jewish family in the South, the struggles of a transgender Latino man, or the resilience and solidarity of captured soldiers in the Vietnam War.

Living in the age of information is both a blessing and a curse: to be heard above the noise floor, we have to present creatively.

It was in a moment of serendipity that I was able to talk with Shereen Marisol Meraji from Code Switch. She has a deep understanding of race and diversity within the radio world and was more than welcome to share her own personal experiences. If anything, I did not suspect to walk away from our conversation being inspired to become an editor. Her talk on race really made me see the importance of diversity in the media world and what we can do to address the problem. Patrick Balthrop from the “Creating Worlds of Sound” presentation was another person who left a strong impression on me. I am very grateful to have been able to have a conversation with him and introduce him as the skilled sound designer he is. He was incredibly passionate about his work ­­ it just blows my mind that someone would spend years searching the world for one sound to use in a video game!

I definitely intend to follow up with Shereen Marisol Meraji at NPR’s Code Switch, as well as with Patrick Balthrop from Interactive Sound and Fury. I have recently completed an internship application for NPR: West per suggestion of Shereen. Whether or not I am selected, I will definitely be pitching any race or diversity stories to her asking for her recommendations. Although Patrick was not accepting any interns for his sound design studio, I am glad I was able to connect with him at the conference. I am currently pursuing a degree in music industry with a focus on audio engineering, so whenever I need any internships or career advice, I will definitely turn to Patrick as one of my resources. The sound design and audio engineering worlds are small; perhaps one day I will get a chance to work on a project with him.

The only quibble I had was the speed meet. It was a bit hectic and fast paced. I felt like it could have been more beneficial if it was more structured. Having said that, I still feel that it was better than no meet up at all, and that it was helpful in giving me a general overview of the types of powerful people who would be at the conference. As with the visibility of the New Voices, I did not think that just wearing name tags with blue ribbons or presenting a speaker was enough.

Perhaps a feasible option to boost our visibility could have been having a small panel with New Voice speakers.

I always felt like I was fighting a constant battle between my love of music and my love of writing. I had no idea of whether I should become a musician or a journalist ­­ the two seem like polar opposites to me. But after hearing such great speakers, I ask myself, why can’t I pursue both as my profession? My New Voices experience was that of a child piecing together a puzzle. By the end of the conference, I can finally see the professional picture I want to paint for myself: I hope to become a journalist, an audio engineer, and a cellist. The most important lesson I take away from being a New Voice is that when there is passion, there is nothing I cannot do and nothing I cannot accomplish. I am empowered to pursue all the careers I am passionate about ­­ I feel limitless. My voice may be new, but I am determined to make some noise.


Low, TobinName: Tobin Low

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Affiliation: Marketplace

Honestly, when I was selected to be a new voice, I didn’t know exactly why. I’m a relative newcomer to the radio world, and while I’ve certainly sought out opportunities to bring diverse voices to my work, it hasn’t been as deliberate a personal mission as it has been for some of the other new voice participants. But one thing I really took away from being a new voice is how much we as a group bring to the table just by being who we are, and coming from the backgrounds that we do. You don’t really realize what a lack of diversity there is in the public media world until you see it. I thought it was striking that almost any time I saw someone at the conference who was a minority, they were a new voice, or had been a new voice previously. Maybe that’s reductive, but I think it’s the truth.

So I would say both the pro and con of being a new voice was being made aware of my other-ness. I haven’t thought about my ethnicity that much, but hearing others in the group speak thoughtfully about it made me consider it a whole lot more.

On another note, one of the major pros of new voices was having that group of people during the conference that I knew I could wave to, or feel comfortable having a conversation with. That meet-up we had before the conference was essential. If I felt overwhelmed during the conference, there was always a new voice I could lean on.

Tell people to bring business cards, and a lot of them. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this one before, but I felt like a real dud every time I met someone and had to offer to write down my email address for them (which I’m sure was easy to lose). You end up meeting so many people at the conference, and have such little face time with most of them, that it is infinitely easier to be able to just hand someone a card that they can use later.

Ask them to have a really clear idea of what kind of help they need, and what kind of help they can offer. This was one of the exercises as part of the AIR speed meet, but I found it to be a theme throughout the conference. The most successful conversations I had with people were when I could say to them “I’m interested in pursuing [x],” or “I want to do more of [x] kind of work.” Then people knew how to advise me, and how they could help (which radio people really want to do). Similarly, when I talked to someone who I could directly help with their goals, it made for more meaningful conversation.

Lesson learned: think about the content you make beyond the process of just making it. I think most radio folk get into the field because they want to make radio (obviously). But some of the most interesting comments and ideas during the conference came from editors, digital producers, and engineers. It was good to hear other perspectives, and to even consider what it would be to move into these other fields.

I think Shereen’s presentation on covering race on the radio made the strongest impression; not only because of what she had to say, but also because of the discussion that followed. People got really passionate — angry, even. It felt important to go to that dark place where people were really critical about how race is represented (or not) on most public radio shows. But it was also heartening to hear the other side; the editors in the room who stressed how important it is for reporters to push the editorial staff to understand where they’re coming from, and why certain issues matter.
I also think what Shereen had to say about covering race, and that you have to accept that you will make people angry if you choose to talk about it. I know I certainly have a tendency to be a people pleaser, so it felt like permission to make work that I think is important, but also accept that it will not be for everyone.

I think certainly I plan on maintaining connections with my fellow new voice participants. Like I said before, I definitely left with the feeling that I could reach out to any one of them for guidance, to offer help, or to collaborate on a project.

As part of my audio doctor appointment, I got to talk with Robert Smith from Planet Money. This was really helpful, as he covers money but doesn’t come from a finance background (just like myself). We had a great conversation, and he invited me to visit the New York NPR bureau anytime, which I plan on following up on.

I think I also built much closer ties to the New York radio community. The radio club here in the city has always felt a little intimidating to me, mostly because I didn’t know most of the people involved. Now that I’ve met so many of them at Third Coast, and learned that the club is actually an extension of the conference, I feel more empowered to attend and participate.

I do some freelance work for WFMT, but had not met most of the people I’ve been working with face-to-face. It was nice to meet Tony Macaluso in person, as I feel like it will lead to more professional opportunity.

One thing I wished was just to have a better sense of the work the other new voices had done/were doing (I know this is asking a lot given the time constraints). I think it might be a good idea to make the playlist part of the introductory blast that goes out introducing everyone.
I would also say that maybe a one-on-one speed meet with the new voices might be a good idea. I certainly got to hear everyone’s stories, which was great, but I also felt like I only ended up having face to face conversations with about 10-15 other new voices. Not that I didn’t feel comfortable with everyone, it just felt like there wasn’t enough time or opportunity to meet everyone personally.

On that note, I felt like maybe the speed meet could be a little more structured in general. I spent a lot of time just looking for someone to talk to that I think I didn’t meet as many people as I could have if I were just told where to go next.

As I said before, my ethnicity is not something I have been very aware of in the past. It might even be something I have avoided thinking about in too much detail. But, as I said before, being a new voice made me conscious of it in a way I hadn’t been.
It also made me aware of a conversation about race and public media that I had not previously been an active participant in provoking, but now feel interested in joining. Some of the other new voices have given considerable thought to the issue, and it was inspiring to hear their passion about what needs to change. It’s something I will definitely be more considerate of as I move forward in my career.

I would also say that as someone who has a passion for radio work and somehow found their way into a job in digital, my experience as a new voice at Third Coast reconnected me to what I really want to be doing in my career. I think being around people who are passionate about working with sound has refocused a lot of the goals I set out for myself when I first got into radio.

I’m grateful for the experience of being a new voice because I had made a deal with myself that if I didn’t get the scholarship money, it probably didn’t make financial sense for me to attend. So without new voices, I literally wouldn’t have gone to third coast. Now, having had the experience, it makes me even more thankful that I got the opportunity.


Maddila, SabinaName: Sabina Maddila

Location: Cambridge, MA

Affiliation: WMBR, Community Radio

Let me start off by saying that I am not a journalist by training or even by practice. Going to Third Coast as a New Voice gave me the chance peer into a world that is really different from the science and engineering world I’m used to. Without New Voices, I don’t think I would have had the confidence to approach some of my radio heroes or gotten the helpful and friendly reactions that I did without having that handy ‘New Voices’ ribbon on my nametag. I appreciate that AIR is trying to promote diversity in the public radio world through New Voices. Over the course of Third Coast, I think I discovered that I do have a unique voice and approach to radio production, which is an interesting and weird revelation because I’ve always considered my interest and work in radio as more of a side project. Coming out of Third Coast—and New Voices—I realized that I have a lot I can contribute to the public radio (and podcasting) world, and I’m really excited to take part in that world. Overall, I think my experience at Third Coast was different than many other attendees because I don’t make my livelihood on public radio. There were a lot of ‘pros’ from my experience with New Voices, and not a whole lot of negatives. I do wish I got the chance to meet more of my New Voice cohorts before the session, but I think that’s more a testament to how good our two hour listening session was before the conference (it’s not super feasible to try to anything other than what was done in preparation for the conference). So basically: my experience was great.

Take a cinematic approach to audio. Know where you, your subject, and the microphone are relation to the space you inhabit.

Radio is about the subject. Content originates outside the studio. Radio is about making that content accessible. Mediate only as much as necessary, but no more.

Don’t just cater to the audience you have, but the audience you want to have. Part of bringing diversity to the airwaves means rethinking your audience.

If you’ve got glasses, wear them. I was such a nerd with my contacts. Heed this warning, future newbie conference attendees.

Dave Isay and Michael Garofalo’s Leave No Trace session probably left the strongest impression on me (I was able to meet Garofalo afterwards), especially since the Story Corps’ storytelling style and production process resonates with how I view the storytelling process. I want to see how I can apply those principles to some of my beloved old tape. That session and talking to Michael probably made me most want to drop everything and start creating.

I was totally jazzed by Patrick Balthrop’s Building Worlds of Sound session. Sound design fascinates me in an artistic and a “wow physics” point of view. Since I introduced one of his breakouts, I connected with Patrick via email prior to Third Coast and then have a mini-conversation during. He is such a cool person. Also he listened to some of the stuff I’ve done!

The New Voices breakout session introductions were a positive part of my conference experience. I was nervous to introduce Patrick’s session, but in doing so, I was able to meet someone whose work I really admire and got through my shaky intro with the enthusiastic support of the other session attendees. It was great. Would recommend.

I met a lot of people at Third Coast and have a healthy stack of business cards I need to contact soon. Since the vast majority of people I met at Third Coast were journalists, it was easy to feel a little out-of-place. I got a pep-talk from my radio professor when I told him about some of my insecurity at Third Coast. He told me, “even in 99 percent of the people won’t find it useful to meet you, the 1 percent who do will be really glad that they did.” Solid advice.

Lastly, I want to give a shout out to the other New Voices. I have a lot of respect for them—they are all really smart, creative, and passionate people. I appreciate having that base of people who I could connect with before the conference formally started. Also, I got a bunch of recommendations to check out Max/MSP by a lot of people, so thanks! Will definitely be checking that out on my next long weekend.

I’m prefacing this answer by saying that I am totally and unabashedly biased here: I am not a journalist. So here we go. At Third Coast, I heard a lot of buzzwords being thrown around, all of which roughly translated to, “public radio/podcasting is the new hip thing again-ish.” This is great, but Third Coast—and from what I can tell, a lot of the public radio/podcasting community—is still dominated by the news cycle and the few major news sources and podcasters who work produced the majority of content for this cycle. It would be nice if Third Coast and the New Voices program made more room for non-journalists. There were definitely attempts to expand how producers approach the creative side of radio, and there were attempts to involve non-journalists as well. But not enough, at least in my opinion. (So take it as you will).

The music, art, hardware, and software communities all have significant contributions to make in audio storytelling, but they don’t have a strong presence at Third Coast. If there really is a renaissance in public radio/podcasting happening right now, these are the communities who should be engaged expanding audio stories into multimedia experiences. Almost every software product marketed to the common consumer knows they need a good designer to package their product and strong hardware to make sure it runs. Usually, the most successful of these involve their designer and hardware people every step of the way. I don’t see why this model wouldn’t apply to public radio/podcasting.

Maybe. My New Voices experience definitely got me more excited about radio. Before coming to Third Coast, I was unsure about radio would fit in to my future—I love creating and listening to audio, but I wasn’t sure about anything beyond that. After Third Coast, I am more committed to making radio. I came out of the conference that there are things I can still contribute to the public radio world. I definitely have a renewed commitment to still produce after graduation, whether that be as an amateur or professional. Who knows? I might even splurge on a field recorder. All I know is that I was incredibly lucky to get this scholarship and go to Third Coast. So thanks AIR. It was a great experience, and I really appreciate being able to partake in it.


Reid, ThomasName: Thomas Reid

Location: East Stroudsburg, PA

Affiliation: Pennsylvania Council of the Blind

My overall experience as a New Voice Scholar was fantastic. As a person with vision loss I have to acknowledge that I may require specific accommodations to gain access to the necessary information to assure I have the fullest possible experience. Both the AIR staff especially Rebecca and Anthony along with Sarah and George from the Third Coast Festival were extremely accommodating. Access to conference documents in an electronic format enabled me to prepare my schedule in advance assuring that I would have quick and easy access to my information. While I was comfortable with the layout of the hotel and various rooms used for the workshops, navigating the conference independently was virtually impossible due to the crowd. However, this quickly turned into a positive when I realized it was in my best interest to accept the assistance offered from other attendees. This served as an opportunity to introduce myself and meet others. Several of the contacts made during the conference were a result of trying to navigate the crowded hall.

I would have liked more time during our Friday afternoon meet up to interact with the other NV Scholars. Based on those I did speak with, I feel there was a lot more I could learn from their experiences.

The chance to introduce a workshop provided me with more visibility to other conference attendees. This served as an ice breaker of sorts helping to have a few individuals approach me to find out more about my endeavors and goals. I only wish I would have introduced a workshop earlier in the weekend.

I would like to see some additional workshop or track of workshops that are geared more to those who are new to radio and may not have professional production experience.

I would have really enjoyed more time to interact with the New Voices. While we can obviously learn from the more seasoned radio producers, I didn’t find that I had much interaction with the veterans. Learning from those who are more in my peer range could prove to be both helpful and encouraging.

Hands on workshops for NV scholars would be great. I would really appreciate the chance to review a piece of work and get constructive feedback.

I would have loved to have the chance to work alongside some of the other NV scholars along with guidance from a seasoned AIR producer to actually create radio based on the conference. The scholars could be divided into 5 or 6 teams with a volunteer AIR mentor to help produce very small pieces that could be compiled into an AIR post conference podcast.

One of the individuals that made a strong impression was Nancy Camden, a prior NV Scholar. She and I actually first met in the elevator and then later that day in the NV meet up. I was very impressed with her story both of making a career change and the fact that it was later in life. She was not only interested in my story, but she wanted to share lessons learned and even learn a little more about blindness. She took time not only to help me navigate the buffet lines, but she also made sure I met some of her contacts. She is definitely someone I plan to stay in touch with. I was also impressed with Jocelyn Robinson. She and I had the chance to meet on Thursday evening and have dinner with one another. I appreciated her conviction to diversity. She has a very interesting background and it is evident that this plays a role in her radio production. This strengthened my belief in the value of my life experience and how that can positively impact my work.

Since attending the conference I have followed up on a lead provided to me by my New Voices Captain Anthony. While the opportunity is volunteer based, it is a chance to produce new stories and work on my craft. If there’s one lesson that I learned from talking to conference attendees it’s to take advantage of any opportunity to produce and create audio. All experience counts in the long term. There were some that I met including one or two NV Scholars who were interested in participating in my venture. I am planning on reaching out to them to begin discussing how they may want to contribute as well as determining any way I can assist with their projects.

Finally, I was inspired by Al Letson’s venture which he proclaimed he is going to produce everything he desires. I realized there’s more I can do on my own to strengthen my skills and produce more samples of my work outside of my advocacy efforts.

In my opinion, the Third Coast festival was well organized.  While I admit my circumstance may be unique, I think the overall conference experience could benefit from less congested halls in between workshops. This could be accomplished with a larger venue or a different use of the space. For example, moving exhibitors into a separate space which could double as a lounge area would free up some of the congestion in the hall.
With such a wide range of experience in attendance, I would like to see specific programming tracks for attendees of varying skill levels. This could also provide encouragement for those who may find attending workshops with seasoned radio professionals intimidating. Workshops could include topics like story creation, writing for audio and freelancing.

After meeting the other New Voice Scholars I wanted more time to interact and get to know all of them. I would like to see one additional New Voice event separate from the conference such as a Friday night cocktail mixer. This could include some notable radio professionals along with a keynote presentation. While it may require some additional work and coordination, I would have liked to have the chance to produce a short segment somehow related to the conference with other scholars. This could be coordinated by an AIR mentor and allow us to continue working together after the conference.

After attending the Third Coast Festival as an AIR New Voice Scholar I feel a lot more positive about pursuing audio as a profession. Prior to the conference, I tended to resist this thought and focus my audio endeavors solely on my volunteer work. I was under the impression that the work was mainly done by those with a background in journalism. Learning that others making a career of audio have traveled a similar path where they are mainly self-taught and are working on their skills; gives me a bit more confidence to consider this as a realistic choice. I realized that although I have not produced for radio, I am more experienced than I originally believed.

Making contacts with others in the industry, learning more about available educational opportunities are all benefits attained from attending the Third Coast Festival that I will be able to use to pursue a career in audio.


Robinson, JocelynName: Jocelyn Robinson

Location: Yellow Springs, OH

Affiliation: WYSO FM

The overall experience was enlightening, sobering, exhausting yet energizing. The community that came together, with all its talent and passion, is still very white, very upper to upper middle class, very privileged, and very self-referential. There remains a ways to go before truly diverse voices are commonplace. For the most part, though, I found people genuine, friendly, and with that oddly attractive mix of curiosity and ego that artists often possess.

As an “old” New Voice, I certainly filtered my experience through a well-ground social justice lens. I’ve been on the periphery of this media making community for some time, with eclectic interests and appetites that only public media has satisfied. I’ve always been aware, though, that I rarely saw myself in the mix. Now community media, that’s a slightly different animal, and I did get a sense at TCF that a groundswell is happening around that, especially from the NV crew. Still felt a bit like there are parallel universes, but I liked being able to see it all mashed up together for a moment.

While certainly well intentioned, watch carefully that tokenism is avoided. If you’re not sure what this might look like, ask. Remember that “new” isn’t necessarily “young.” I realize there has been some attention paid to multigenerational representation, but I think there could be more. Experiences outside the realm of radio can be transferred in, and certainly shared with younger NV scholars. And younger people always have something to teach elders, so it’s really a win-win.

The entire group of NV Scholars impressed the hell outta me. Every individual is doing something amazing, and I feel honored to be counted one among them. I loved their wide-eyed worldliness, their commitments to telling stories from vantage points other than those most often heard on the airwaves, and especially their interest in building community and coalition.

I also met a number of folks who are podcasting and really walking a singular path. Not everyone has a machine like TAL behind them (read, Serial). These are the people who truly put the “Independents” in AIR, and their passion, curiosity, and skill make me feel hopeful and excited about the possibilities. Folks like Erica Heilman of Rumble Strip Vermont. Very cool. And brave.

After an impassioned exchange with Shereen Marisol Meraji during the first Code Switch session, I came away with a desire to be not only a producer, but also an editor. To that end, I was able to express this interest to a seasoned editor in the person of Deborah George, who agreed to offer guidance. My hope is that her counsel will enable me to combine years of experience as a cultural critic/scholar with my more recent media production skills. Perhaps my wisdom earned could assist younger producers in confidently tackling and communicating complex issues related to race/class/gender/sexuality, or to push more experienced producers across boundaries that define the current public radio landscape into even greater inclusiveness.

I also realized, after a few conversations, what a blessing I have in my present editor and other media colleagues here at home. I plan to value those relationships even more, to nurture them, and to acknowledge the good fortune I’ve had thus far by making every effort to “pay it forward.”

NV is great, but it’s not enough. My strongest recommendation would be to invite established producers of color to be on the TCF program as presenters and workshop leaders as opposed to “talent.” For example, I would much rather have learned more about Al Letson’s creative process as a Black man working in a mostly white environment than see him perform for a mostly white audience. That experience ended up being a little…unsettling. We need to see ourselves as makers in our own rights as opposed to sanctioned ambassadors or translators. And we need to be offering our expertise to everyone, not just to other producers of color/difference.

As an experienced meeting planner, I think the format of the conference may have just outgrown the current model. I would rather see various conference tracks over several days, making clear the sessions applicable to producers of varying experiences/career stages. As it was, the redundancy was not helpful. Now that it is probably apparent that attendance will only grow in the future, fine-tuning the conference format for a larger, more diverse constituency is in order. Also, I saw no opportunity to evaluate the individual sessions or the conference as a whole. Build this mechanism in and it becomes a useful tool for planning as well as justifying funding. (Note: I JUST received an email with a TCF survey, over a week after the conference closed. This is way too late to ask for effective feedback!)

And don’t hold the award event after the conference ends on a Sunday night! People have lives and jobs to which they must return and staying over on Sunday was/is problematic.

Finally, find creative ways to keep us NVs connected. Maybe offer periodic workshops for NV alumni in various regions, or organize a virtual listening room for us to share and workshop pieces together, or maybe host an NV podcast so our collective work has a place to be heard, or host a virtual brainstorming session to come up with more ideas/needs. The informal networking opportunities at the conference were nice enough, but it’s the more formal stuff, the ongoing exposure to each other’s work and process that’ll really help us build partnerships with one another. And to help others find us, create a central location, a talent pool, if you will, for anyone looking for diverse voices.

I think so. While I felt welcomed and included, I also think only time will tell if diverse perspectives really are valued in the larger profession. Facing down years of privilege and division is not easy, and offers of inclusion can evaporate when a critical eye is cast. Making space for other perspectives is sometimes threatening to existing structures; consequently, I think it’s been slow going for public radio, and it will probably continue to be so. Is it an environment truly worth fighting for? Maybe with the current media r/evolutions this’ll become a moot point. In the interim, I’m intrigued and want to be part of the conversation, at the very least.


Stephens, AlainName: Alain Stephens

Location: Austin, TX

Affiliation: KUT FM

If I had to summarize my experience as a New Voice attending Third Coast into a single word, that word would be “whirlwind”. Initially there was a great deal of trepidation – I really didn’t know what to expect and how I’d fit into the whole scheme of things. Luckily, Anthony did an excellent job at assuaging my fears. I felt he really understood exactly how many of us were feeling, and he gave us not only the logistical know-how to navigate Third Coast, but a much needed confidence boost in addressing some of the anxiety he knew we were carrying. Once the weekend started, it was a lot to digest. I think as a New Voice, so very fledgling in our careers and approaches, the breakout sessions were sometimes a bit daunting. I felt so much flew over my head – I soon realized that for me, it was less about taking stock of hard skills, and more about witnessing one of many potential futures. But that doesn’t mean my takeaway was any less valuable. I walked away with a great deal of connections, being new to the game of radio, Third Coast was a proverbial adrenaline shot for networking. I connected with so many people, and being a New Voice really created an easy path for breaking the ice. That little green ribbon below my badge generated a lot of interest in who I was, where I came from, and what I could do. In one weekend I walked away with an amount of connections and meet-ups that would probably take me years to have made on my own. Speaking of networking, the New Voice listening session was probably one of the most important activities. If Third Coast was a war, the listening session would have been the boot camp. It familiarized the New Voices with each other, it eased us into the weekend, and proved itself to be an anchor point in which I constantly referenced throughout Third Coast. With so much stuff being taken in, I will be unpacking the experience for the foreseeable future.

Investigative Journalism in Radio is Possible! I’ve always been infatuated with investigative journalism, but in my mind I didn’t really know how to tackle it in the realm of radio. In my newsroom it’s all about the headlines, the breaking stories, the quick day-to-day turnaround pieces. Laura Sullivan’s session on investigative journalism really outlined how you do these stories and how radio and sound can be even more impactful than print.
– People are at least thinking about diversity.  In my newsroom I’m constantly bringing up the issues of race, class, gender – all of those diversity arguments and questions. Sometimes it feels like I’m chicken-little, running around screaming about how the sky is falling to a group of people who look at me in confusion or even apathy. Yet, Third Coast proved that people are thinking about these issues, that I’m not the only one trying to answer them. It proved these issues are important.

– I have stories to tell, and I should tell them. I’ll be the first to admit that many days I don’t feel like a journalist or a storyteller. Third Coast was an exercise in validation, it encouraged me to keep seeking venues to tell those stories I want to tell. The most repeated phrase I heard was “You have stories to tell.”

On my last day, through a string of conversations, I was introduced to Erica Heilman. She is a private investigator who produces a podcast revolving around crime and investigation. We instantly hit it off. Both of us really jogged ideas about using our criminal justice backgrounds as the gateway to good storytelling, how the demand for long form storytelling is becoming the future of radio, and how to formulate pitches and maybe even collaborate in the future. Seeing someone from a similar background and mindset really left me feeling good about myself. I also kept thinking about the conversations I had with Thomas Reid about handling diversity in radio, how using storytelling itself could be the answer to changing perceptions to not only the public, but the radio community itself. Likewise Thomas and I shared some interesting stories about our origins in radio, the lack of journalism and radio education in minority communities, and tackling the often tricky subject of diversity on air. Thomas really encouraged me to use my position within an established radio entity to push for change, even if it’s difficult, and potentially slow to come. Thomas really helped me wrap my head around the whole picture, rather than focusing on the immediate and the now. I think that’s something that will resonate with me for the long haul.

Well, I’m already working with Ryan Kailath, a host at Marfa Public Radio. Marfa is a small town in Texas, and Ryan was very interested in creating bonds with my show in Austin. Since we’ve gotten back I’ve helped Ryan come up with a pitch that my news director has taken a liking to. I have a feeling Ryan and I will be crossing paths in the near future more often. Speaking of Marfa, I really found myself gravitating to Mia Warren, a New Voice who interns there with Ryan. I’m going to make sure our lines of communication stay open. I’ve also kept Dan Carino’s information in my online Rolodex. Some stories just can’t be told through a traditional web post and comics journalism seems like a lively alternative to renew interest in those pieces. Besides I’m also a comic book fan and it’s a rare treat to meet a real life comic artist. Lastly, Erica Heilman, the private investigator I mentioned in the paragraph above. We both seemed dedicated to following our somewhat parallel career paths in hopes that one day an opportunity to collaborate will come in the near future. I have a feeling we will be formulating some best-practices when it comes to leveraging our unique backgrounds into great story-telling.

I think that AIR should be very cognizant that many New Voice scholars are working some tough jobs. It was hard keeping up with the build up of information being thrown at you before the conference started in addition to managing my regular workload. As the conference day closed in, I found myself combing through a ton of emails to pull out the relevant and necessary information. I think having a single master document listing out of all the New Voice requirements, scheduling, contacts, and directions would have made things a lot easier, especially if we received it a week or so beforehand. Likewise, some of the requests were on short notice. Head-shots, bios, story demo’s were demanded under somewhat short notice. Even with everything quickly available to me, it was a bit stressful. Also the speed-meet was a little convoluted. I think everyone wanted to just go out and meet someone, but the added rules and system for navigating around the room quickly fell apart. People seemed to be frustrated with awkward guidelines to mingling, and when it ended, a lot of people still felt hungry to socialize. A single and simple exercise would keep participation high without becoming confusing. I also felt that some of the New Voice presenter introductions fell on deaf ears. I personally lucked out, I introduced Ann Hepperman, who was very coordinated and clear with what she wanted me to do. Even then, she seemed less than impressed with the overall idea. Other New Voices were drowned out by crowds, others spoke of how the sessions speakers never made contact with them, and overall many New Voices seemed stressed and anxious about the idea. I think there may be another alternative that can get people to recognize the New Voice scholars as well as force them into the limelight a bit, without having the anxiety overshadow their experience.

It will and at the same time it won’t. As a novice, I’m hungry to use the concepts learned at Third Coast, and at the same time – I’m still learning to digest them. I think Third Coast was very inspiring, it has made me ask myself a lot of healthy questions. What do I want to do? What can I do? What makes me unique? Those questions will hang over my head for the foreseeable future as I seek to foment new career goals, step outside of my comfort zone, and expand my connections within this very small community. Yet, when the festivities end, and I go back home – I’m firmly re-seated into the now. And then there comes the big question of any novice – how can I go from here to there? How can I make the imagined real? And that’s something I still don’t have an answer to. So for right now, I’m just going to try and ride the momentum of Third Coast, to use the upcoming year to go as fast and as far as I can, and hopefully by then, I will have a clearer picture of my place within the storyteller community.


Tabuena-Frolli, Cal copyName: Cal Tabuena-Frolli

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Affiliation: The Litography Project

This conference was excellent, just amazing. I not only got to meet my hero Nick van der Kolk, I got to stand outside a noisy bar with him, talking about how cold Chicago was and what he was up to next year—like we were friends. I did this with plenty of people who are soon to be my radio comrades across the country, and I couldn’t have asked for more.

TCF wove the small world of Public Radio tighter, so that in the future if I wanted to collaborate with someone I met, all I’d have to do to is mention that one time we shared a table at lunch and we be warmed up and ready to work together.

As a New Voice, I got to show myself off without looking pretentious; it was nice to feel important at an event full of professionals who’ve never heard of me.

No cons, the event was just too short. At the end of each day I felt tired and satisfied, confident the conference had done its darndest to pack each minute with something worthwhile. And at the end of the weekend I was wrung of energy, but bloated creatively. That’s the greatest feeling.

You are who you come with. I felt great pride in KALW and The Litography Project, who came as a group and hung out with each other between sessions. I’d hope that the TCF encourages and emphasizes entire groups of people going together. I can’t fully explain how nice it was to talk about my project with a stranger and then call over someone else from the team to explain an element of the project I couldn’t.

Even though they’re journalists, radio people are generally a shy folk.

Podcasts are the in thing right now.

Jake Harper, a young independent producer who was brave enough to pitch to RadioLab, was the most influential person I met in my age bracket. His idea was amazing and his dedication to learning the field was encouraging to hear. He also hammered home my impression that radio people are just plain nice to be around.

Patrick Balthrop inspired everyone I spoke with. His nuanced perspective on sound design and his relationship to place and setting was just beautiful. He convinced me that video games (and all non-radio media using audio) are worth a hard listen.

Pat Walters, of former RadioLab glory, was a joy to talk with. Getting to meet someone I’ve heard for so long was powerful. I got to hear about his success at Pop-Up magazine and am completely sold on the idea. And I think in terms of genre-bending, he’s the most interesting person I’ll be keeping tabs on.

Kainaz Amaria doesn’t know it, but I’ll someday be collaborating with NPR’s visual team. After her talk on finding one’s visual voice, I only became more entrenched in my view that visuals are becoming indispensable to fleshing out audio documentary. Her projects showed me how much space there is to experiment with visual narrative and fostered hope that there are careers—like, real careers—in Public Radio for visual people.

I hope there are more sessions like hers at the next conference. Since each radio show with a web presence (so, every show) has to deal with a graphic designer or web developer at some point, it’d be enlightening to have a talk about that! How does a small public radio show pay for an expensive web developer? What is the etiquette when talking about design iterations? At what point does a show have to establish an identity? Is it even necessary? Stuff like that…oh, I’m already excited for those conversations!

Something I heard a lot about but didn’t experience personally was a lack of diversity in public radio. That probably doesn’t sound good coming from a New Voices Scholar, but I thought the conversations around this field’s lack of non-white, non-male, non-straight producers were reductive.

If we could swing angle of the kick-off questions from “There are no people of color in radio; what is wrong with this system?” to “Look at some of the successful people of color in radio (Glenn Washington, Audie Cornish, Stephanie Foo…whoever); how can we replicate their success?” I think it would be a conversation based on finding solutions rather than one based on finding problems.

I felt honored to be there as a member of a diverse group, but I think and hope that diversity continues to be a broad definition, focusing on people from non-traditional fields (like engineering, music or visuals), rather than people from strictly non-white backgrounds.

Not a week after the conference, my team and I had several talks about how to improve our project—all of which came from ideas we heard at TCF. The station manager at KALW pulled my team’s director aside and talked about ways to get us more funding because he saw our worth after this conference. I got to meet future collaborators and radio-heads interested in visual narratives.
Would all this stuff have happened without the conference? Yes. But it would have taken forever.

What TCF provided was a hotpot of ideas and conversationalists. These meetings in turn fueled many of the changes we were bound to make, they just reinforced the quick decision making with stories of successful risk taking.

Obviously you all know this. This is the point of a conference. But I didn’t know this.

Now that I do, though, you can expect me every year. Thanks. A million.  Cal Tabuena-Frolli


Tran, NinaName: Nina Tran

Location: Seattle, WA

Affiliation: RadioActive Youth Media

The New Voices experience was amazing! I learned a lot about actual public radio careers and now I can definitely see myself getting into it after college. Bias aside, I think my own personal experience was mostly structured around exploring how public radio and audio art are currently weaving together this the new frontier for storytelling. During my time at the conference I learned that where it’s headed right now is really quite unique. You can come from essentially any background and end up in radio. Meeting the other New Voice scholars meant meeting a diverse group of individuals in terms of race, gender, experience, and skill set. I met illustrators, photographers, writers, filmmakers, and other students. All of these different individuals exposed to me the diverse threads that make up the fabric of public radio. Essentially all of these skills are significant and very useful in public radio because of how quickly the field is integrating a holistic, multimedia approach.

The discussions that I shared with the other New Voice scholars were all quite stimulating and enlightening. Never in my life have I ever interacted with a concentrated, consistent group of passionate, thoughtful, and flat out cool folks. My perception of the people who are involved with public radio has drastically opened up solely because of the interactions I had within the circle of New Voicers.

Cool people make up public radio. Simplistic honesty aside, each person that I talked to and interacted with was an incredibly interesting individual. I loved every minute of discussing the merits (and flaws) of Serial. I loved the crowded conversation over cookies. And I loved how as New Voice scholars we were constantly encouraged to meet as much people as possible. Going to school in a small town has kind of rendered me useless in the art of getting to know, but I found myself feeling really comfortable and never overwhelmed. By the end of the weekend, my body was exhausted but my brain wanted to keep going.

Public radio is inclusive. This ties into the first answer, but I really liked how eager people were to meet me and ask me about my background. Beyond the social interactions, learning about projects that are headed towards incorporating other media aside from audio, was wonderful! I discovered shows that are really nailing down audience engagement, which is something I know to be crucial in public radio.

One of the most fascinating things I learned about was the artistic role that sound plays within a narrative. The insertion of sound as a character within the story is a notion that I had never really thought of before. This was something that I came across through the sessions on sound design, but it also felt like something that expounded in all the sessions I attended. Furthermore, it’s an aspect that I want to explore on my own now.

I have to give a shout out to Sinan Goknur, fellow New Voices scholar and multimedia activist badass. I would also like to mention that I attended both Sound Design sessions because Audio Smut’s Kaitlin Prest knows exactly what she’s doing and the way she articulates the purpose of sound is like hearing a poet perform! I opened up for the session called Public Powered Journalism and I would love to collaborate with reporters I met from Seattle, where I’m from to do something like Curious City but in Seattle.

I would recommend making the schedule easier to navigate. A couple of times during the conference I was confused as which events were required to go to versus encouraged to go to versus completely optional. Also as it was my first time at the conference it would have been really helpful to hear some personal description of the events – like what each event would be like, who would probably be there, how quintessential it is to attend, etc. Aside from the scheduling, I think everything else was great and I felt like I had a lot of freedom to determine and define my Third Coast experience as a New Voices scholar.

My New Voices experience definitely influenced what I want to do with my life after college. As I mentioned in #1, meeting the other New Voice scholars really left an imprint on me. Especially when I feel like before I was constantly confronted with this mainstream perception of public radio – white, straight/cisgendered men with crazy intellectual backgrounds at prestigious colleges – but now upon meeting folks from all sorts of backgrounds and experiences, I feel like I can actually see myself now within the sphere of public radio.


Vinas, SilviaName: Silvia Vinas

Location: Provo, UT

Affiliation: Radio Ambulante

I came away from my experience as a New Voice feeling inspired and connected. To avoid the disappointment I’ve felt in other conferences, I didn’t create unrealistic expectations about the Third Coast Conference or about my experience as a New Voice. I arrived to Chicago with an open mind, hoping to get the best out of those three days. I’m happy to report that being a New Voice at the Third Coast Conference has been one of the most gratifying experiences in my career as a journalist. It was refreshing to relate to the struggles that other New Voices are facing in their careers, and it was inspiring to hear their ideas to overcome those struggles.

I’m concerned, however, that the things we discussed as New Voices stayed within our group and didn’t make it to the rest of the conference attendees. We talked about issues that can only be resolved when we’re all on the same page. By “all” I mean those who have worked in radio their whole careers, to those of us who are new in the field and everyone in between –and of course, by “all” I also mean people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. Many of us shared our ideas with other attendees on a personal, one-to-one basis, but with so many people attending the conference, it would’ve been great to have the opportunity to present our perspective in a more formal setting to the whole group.

Everyone started out as a “newbie”: I know this is obvious, but I think that we sometimes forget that the people we admire used to be in our shoes. Many of the experienced radio journalists who presented at the conference were very honest about their feelings of inadequacy when they first started in radio. It was inspiring to see how much they’ve accomplished by starting out small and working hard to move forward in their careers.

The radio/podcast community is as close as they say: I’d heard great things about this community, and I’m so happy that I got to experience this first hand at the Third Coast Conference and within our New Voices group.

There’s a great need for new voices in radio and podcasting: I’m not just referring to AIR’s New Voices, but to new, diverse voices in general.

I met a lot of people who made a strong impression on me. It’s hard to pick just one, so I’m going to mention two. The first was an independent radio producer. It was inspiring (I know, I keep repeating that word!) to hear about her passion for human stories and for producing pieces for her local radio station. She was not out to become a “famous” producer for big shows; she was happy perusing her passion for audio storytelling at a local level.

The other person who made a very strong impression on me was Laura Sullivan, who I got to introduce during her session “Turning Investigative Reporting into Artful Radio”. I was a little bit nervous about meeting such an accomplished journalist, but she turned out to be extremely approachable. Learning about how she works on her investigations was extremely helpful.

I expect to follow up on several connections I made during the conference. In particular, I’ll follow up with producers who are doing similar work or who want to collaborate with the project I’m currently working for, Radio Ambulante. I will also reach out to very helpful experienced producers who offered their help.

As I mentioned earlier, my main concern is that the perspectives that New Voices bring to the conference for the most part seem to stay inside the group. I think it would be very beneficial to have the New Voices scholars organize a session of their own –not a session that people can skip in order to go to another one, but a session presented to all conference attendees. This session could be a panel, where three or four New Voices representing the whole group are asked questions about diversity and are also asked to comment on the issues that were discussed during the New Voices Listening Session. The New Voices Captain could be the moderator in this panel, and like in other instances during the Third Coast Conference, the sessions could end with questions from the audience. I think this is something that could have a great impact on all conference attendees.

My experience as a New Voice will definitely influence my professional direction. It was truly inspiring (there’s that word again!) to see what other New Voices are doing now, and I hope to follow their example and continue developing a career in radio. I left the conference feeling that I’m doing what I love, and that I want to do more of it and better. I’m now determined to move forward, continue learning, and gain as much experience as I can producing, interviewing, and editing.


Warren, MiaName: Mia Warren

Location: Marfa, TX

Affiliation: Marfa Public Radio

Third Coast was an amazing experience, and I feel so lucky to have attended the conference for the first time as a New Voice. I was pretty nervous on the first day, but as soon as the Listening Session began, I was put at ease. I instantly felt gratified to hear from others who shared similar interests and critiques of public media. I just wish there’d been more time to talk to all the New Voices.

One of my favorite sessions was the Saturday Code Switch session, “Tackling Race on the Radio.” The audience was so engaged, present, and eager to talk. I also learned a great deal from Marianne McCune’s “Making News Stories Good Stories,” which included a lot of practical advice on reporting. Practical knowledge was something I craved from some of the other sessions – and the pitch panel was another good example of that – but I still wished there were more like that. I guess it probably depends on the speaker and his/her own particular style of presentation.

Though the schedule was a little overwhelming (I worried about attending as many breakout sessions as possible), I was glad to have every minute organized. There was very little time to stand around or meander – I just rushed off to each session and absorbed as much as I could. It was chaotic at times but ultimately productive.

The networking aspect of Third Coast is extremely important for beginning producers. Perhaps some tips on networking strategies would be helpful for future classes. It can often feel icky to give your business card to someone, but it’s kind of a necessity.

All the hype about Serial and the “new era of podcasting” inspired me – and I appreciated the emphasis on doing your own thing. At the next conference, it would be great to see a session on independent producers / freelancers. How does one make it work as an independent? This was something I wondered often.

I experienced a total fangirl moment when I introduced myself to Brooke Gladstone at happy hour on Saturday night. Amazingly, she’d heard of the small NPR member station I work for in West Texas, and then she gave me a glass of wine. It was pretty amazing.

It was obviously cool to see some radio greats and geek out about that. But it was equally as special to meet people who work for organizations I really admire and hope to work for one day, like Storycorps (Michael Garofalo, John White) and the Moth (Sophia Paliza-Carre), etc. These are programs I’ve listened to for years, and it was great to put a face to them.

Of course, I also enjoyed meeting more experienced independent producers and asking them how they do it. Many of them were very helpful and generous with their advice (Yowei Shaw, Daniel Gross, Meral Agish).

I traded many business cards and am still sorting through some of them. But I pitched a story to Destination DIY last week, and I’d love to pitch something to Code Switch in the near future. After a conversation with Marc Maximov, I also plan to look into scholarships to attend classes at the Center for Documentary Studies. At this time, I really can’t afford most of the excellent storytelling programs out there (Transom, Salt), so I’ll do what I can to pursue financial aid.

It would be helpful to have some kind of job fair or a session more geared toward career opportunities, especially for producers just starting out. I’m an unpaid intern looking for paid jobs in radio, which are obviously very scarce, and much of the time, it feels like you just need to know people to get ahead in the industry, which is frustrating.

I also wished there were some way to make the diversity conversation more mainstream. One of the things we noted during the UnConferencing lunch was that simply the word “diversity” is off-putting, so maybe it’s a matter of branding. But I sort of felt the Code Switch session was fulfilling a conference quota to talk about diversity in public media, and that’s a shame. Maybe we could start with something even simpler: how can we get more people to attend that session who wouldn’t normally consider it a must?

I missed the last New Voices get-together early on Sunday morning. Originally, I’d thought we would meet for lunch, but that changed on Saturday night. Maybe it’d be simpler to schedule a mandatory last meeting for the New Voices, perhaps during one of the last coffee breaks of the weekend? I think if it’s not mandatory, it might be more difficult to coordinate.

Hearing successful producers like Lea Thau talk about their projects made storytelling seem more accessible. Third Coast and the New Voices experience have certainly made an impact on me. Throughout the weekend, the vast majority of folks I met were very kind, welcoming, and encouraging, and I left Chicago feeling more confident about my abilities and inspired by what I’d heard.