Announcing: AIR’s 2017 Better Edit Fellows!

August 14, 2017—Great editors, the story architects of compelling audio, are in high demand. Starting today, 12 fellows launch their 90-day Better Edit Fellowships with AIR, held in collaboration with PRNDI, to work on fortifying the pillars of stellar editing work. The Fellows, chosen among a distinguished pool of applicants, and paired with 12 of AIR’s star editing mentors, have projects they’ll whip into shape during the Fellowship that especially fit the skills and insights AIR’s Better Edit mentors have to offer. Over the course of four hours’ worth of sessions, they’ll draw from the project to elaborate on concepts and techniques to become better editors themselves—and pay it forward, nurturing future generations of editors.

The fellow-mentor pairings exemplify the breadth and depth of the editing process. In line with the project at hand, the Fellowships will focus on skills ranging from newsroom management and pitching to podcast pilots and radio documentary. The pairs are kicking off the Fellowship by making an introductory plan together, and AIR is pleased to provide sneak peeks of the preliminary project plans that some pairs have shared with us:

Tegan Wendland and Aaron Schachter
Tegan: “We had a wide-ranging chat about career goals and how to edit with different personality types. Aaron is going to work with me as I edit a local feature. I am sharing him on all of the front-end planning I did with my reporter, and he’s going to sit in on an edit and give me feedback. We plan to work on my feature-editing skills and juggling that with management duties.”

Whitney Eulich and Rob Sachs
Rob: “Whitney is co-producing a podcast pilot that spans the US-Mexico border, flipping the narrative on the relationship between these two countries.”

Tim Lloyd and Martha Little
Tim: “I’ll be helping Harvest Public Media create a pilot episode for a new podcast. We’ll bring together Harvest’s deep subject matter expertise with elements of design thinking to develop the show’s focus in a way this is both compelling to a digital first audience and sustainable in terms of production time.”

Joel Carnegie and Julia Barton
Joel: “We’re planning on working on my next 30-minute radio feature/documentary in Ireland, and will meet up [in person] for our next session at the HearSay Audio Festival.”

Merrin Lazyan and Chris Ballman
Merrin: “We will be working on one of the first episodes of a monthly feature that WQXR will begin running in the fall called Classical Heroes. This series will profile musicians who have done profoundly important work in their communities. This will be a short-form, audio-rich feature, featuring the voices of the ‘hero’ as well as the person who nominated him/her.”

James Dawson and Judith Smelser
Judith: “In the first meeting, I’ll suggest some exercises James can do with his staff to help them drill down on their topic and geographic coverage priorities and to help them decide what they’re not going to do in order to focus on those priorities. We’ll also talk about balancing the needs of daily news with in-depth coverage, setting expectations for staff, tracking stories, future events calendars, etc.”


AIR and PRNDI look forward to hearing the fruits of this labor in November at the conclusion of the Fellowship. If you missed this round but are curious about working with a mentor in a similar capacity, we encourage you to submit an application for AIR’s Mentorship program, or apply to be a mentor yourself. Learn more and apply here.

Read on for the complete bios of the 12 selected Better Edit Fellows. Curious about AIR’s Fellowship mentors? Find out more about them here.

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Sara Burningham (paired with Anne Donohue) is a New York-based producer. After spending a decade working as a news writer, editor, and anchor, Sara now produces the Making Gay History podcast. She has written, shaped, and made stories for radio in London, Arkansas, and New York. Her work has appeared on the BBC, LBC, the CBC, 1010 WINS, and KUAF.

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Joel Carnegie (paired with Julia Barton) is an award-winning broadcaster, presenter, performer, feature maker, and musician regularly working with various broadcasters and media outlets, including ABC Radio National, American Public Media, Audible, BBC World Service, CBC, Deutsche Welle, and others. He is the Founder & Creative Lead of international media production house The Space Company, which tells stories from outback Australia, to the remote Faroe Islands, Fiji, India, Ireland, Kiribati, Netherlands, Russia, UK, and the USA. In 2017, his radio cabaret show, “Stardust: The Col Brain Story,” won two Silver Awards at the New York Festivals International Radio Awards.

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PRNDI member James Dawson (paired with Judith Smelser) joined Boise State Public Radio as news director in 2017, overseeing the station’s award-winning news department. Most recently, he covered state politics and government for Delaware Public Media since the station first began broadcasting in 2012 as the country’s newest NPR affiliate. His work has been featured on All Things Considered and NPR’s newscast division, and his reporting has covered state and local government, arts and culture, crime, and agriculture. An Idaho native from north of the Time Zone Bridge, James previously served as the public affairs reporter and interim news director for the commercial radio network Inland Northwest Broadcasting. He’s a proud University of Idaho graduate, with a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting and digital media. When he’s not in the office, you can find James fly-fishing, buffing up on his photography, or watching the Seattle Mariners’ latest rebuilding season.

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Allison Dean (paired with Jeremy Bernfeld) is the creator and host of Ear to the Pavement, a new podcast about social movements, urban planning, and policy, produced in association with Progressive City magazine. Allison returns to the world of radio after having researched and produced My Brooklyn (2012), a documentary film about the fight to save Downtown Brooklyn’s Fulton Mall. Allison’s prior radio work has appeared on WNYC’s Studio 360 and Soundcheck, and NPR’s Living on Earth. She holds a master’s degree in urban planning from Hunter College/CUNY and has worked as a researcher and communications assistant for nonprofits including PolicyLink and Good Jobs First.

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Whitney Eulich (paired with Rob Sachs) is a Mexico City-based print and audio reporter. She covers stories across Latin America, primarily for the Christian Science Monitor, where she’s been an editor and correspondent for nearly six years. Her work includes writing about labor rights and public health in El Salvador, human trafficking in Mexico among US guest workers, and violence and education in Brazil. Whitney holds a master’s in international affairs from Columbia University and studied radio documentary production at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.

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PRNDI member Merrin Lazyan (paired with Chris Ballman) produces weekly shows and special features for WQXR, including Reflections from the Keyboard, the Young Artists Showcase, and the Classical Report (including her Music in the White House series). She recently co-created, hosted, and produced the launch season of WQXR’s opera podcast, He Sang/She Sang. Before joining WQXR, Merrin worked in arts administration at Juilliard and in book publicity at Random House. She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Harvard and her graduate degree in classical voice performance from the Royal College of Music in London, where she spent five years working as an operatic soprano as well as a freelance writer and editor. Merrin won the British Psychological Society Book Award for her contributions to The Psychology Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained.

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PRNDI member Tim Lloyd (paired with Martha Little) co-hosts and produces We Live Here, a podcast from St. Louis Public Radio and PRX that delves into issues of race and class. This year, We Live Here earned the inaugural Kaleidoscope Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association for excellence in coverage of diversity. Since joining St. Louis Public Radio in 2012, Tim has earned eight Edward R. Murrow Awards and was named beat reporter of the year by the Education Writers Association in 2015. Prior to joining St. Louis Public Radio, Tim launched digital reporting efforts for Harvest Public Media. He grew up north of Kansas City and holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, Columbia.

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Andrew Meriwether (paired with Peter Clowney) is an audio producer for the Art Institute of Chicago, where he creates immersive audio tours and will be launching a forthcoming podcast. Prior to his work at AIC, Andrew was freelance producer in Chicago. His love of audio storytelling began while doing a podcast for the Phillips Museum of Art at Franklin & Marshall College, where he received a degree in philosophy. Andrew has also taken coursework at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and launched two podcasts, Sibling Revelry and Pequeño Terremoto.

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PRNDI member Annie Russell (paired with Alicia Zuckerman) is the deputy news director at Vermont Public Radio, where she assigns and edits both daily and feature stories. Previously she was VPR’s All Things Considered producer and weekend reporter/producer. Russell studied radio at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. In past lives she has been a mental health social worker, a music director, and a video store clerk. When she’s not making radio, she performs stand-up comedy all over New England.

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Joel Shupack (paired with Loretta Williams) is an independent audio producer based in Portland, OR, and the host and creator of the new SquareMile podcast, each episode of which explores a different square mile of space somewhere on the planet. He has been involved with several radio and podcast projects since 2013, when he jumped headfirst into the work by bicycling across the country with a microphone looking for stories and producing six episodes while on the road. Once back in Portland, he helped start and served as lead writer for the Steam Radio Syndicate, who have produced four variety shows themed around an American folk song for KBOO. Joel has also served as audio editor for The River Signal, a serialized weekly radio drama inspired by an actual trip down the length of the Mississippi River in an old stern-wheeler.

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Laura Sim (paired with Ibby Caputo) is a radio producer and reporter based in New York City. She’s helped make Gimlet Media’s Crimetown, Slate’s The United States of Debt, and Radiotopia’s Millennial. She’s also authored scholarly texts on the politics of race in radio and podcasts. She graduated from Dartmouth College in 2016 with a B.A. in English.

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PRNDI member Tegan Wendland (paired with Aaron Schachter) is WWNO’s interim news director. She has a background in investigative news reporting and an M.S. in life sciences communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has worked as a reporter for Wisconsin Public Radio, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, WRKF-FM in Baton Rouge, and WVIK-FM in Rock Island, Illinois. Her stories have aired nationally on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Marketplace.