FIELD NOTES: Learning the Ropes of the Business

Jul 22, 2016

"Congratulations you are one of the participants for the Next Generation Radio being held in Atlanta." This was the sentence I read as I sat in 100-degree weather with my daughter waiting for Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato to arrive at Atlantic Station in Atlanta.  I cannot express the excitement I experienced at that point; I was going to be working with NPR and that is all I could think about.  However, my excitement was short lived as my nerves set in at the realization of the magnitude of this project. I quickly worked to push my nerves aside as I set out on developing my plan of action for completing this momentous project.

I began my first step into the world of creating a story for public radio, researching a topic and developing a story. I initially decided that I wanted to research the housing market here in Atlanta in hopes of creating a story focused on gentrification. As I began to do my research on this I discovered the Housing Justice League of Atlanta was in the midst of declaring a Renter's State of Emergency that would coincide with the dates of the production of my story for Next Generation Radio. I was beyond thrilled and ready to share these findings on the first day of the project. When this day came I was asked to explain my pitch, and I in my overly excited and slightly anxious state set out to do just that. However, my overly excited slightly anxious state soon went to slightly defeated and overly anxious within point 12 seconds. My facial expressions tell so many stories without any words, a trait that has plagued me my whole life, and it read sheer frustration.

While the other students were given the green light to proceed, I scrambled to work with my mentor to develop an idea that would flourish into a full fledged story that would be refreshing, entertaining, and informative. Eventually we were able to settle on an idea, the evolution of the Black Church, and my project was given the go ahead. However, this was only part of my daunting task completed. We were now faced with the task of developing the focus of the project. Why does it seem that culminating a project into a single focus statement always proves challenging? As I worked to complete this part of my project I think that this task was so challenging because of its simplicity. By this I mean that breaking something down to its simplest form, stripped of details, character and background, forces you to engage a topic in a way that isn't usually thought about.

Basically, Next Generation Radio was forcing me to step outside of my comfort zone and think in new ways. With this realization, I developed a new determination to complete every task that was thrown at me even if I had to work all day and night. I think it is important to note that I had a great deal to prove to myself as I am a non-traditional student who is a few decades older than most of my peers. I am in the midst of starting a new career, the career I had worked to accomplish for so many years, which means I need to get all I can out of the Next Generation Radio Project. So by the end of my first day, I left with a long list of tasks that I needed to accomplish as quickly as possible.

Just like a child returning from their first day of school, my daughter asked me how my day went and I summed it up in one word, challenging. I had dreams that were now attainable goals and I was determined to produce my story.  I contacted everyone I could think of in hopes of locating someone to interview and develop my story around. I finally received a Facebook message and the next phase of my journey began. I contacted Rev. Timothy McDonald and I knew immediately that he had a story to tell and I wanted to aide in producing it. I quickly worked to schedule an interview with him.

The next day I traveled to East Atlanta with my mentor to interview Rev. McDonald. As I arrived at the church, my mind racing trying to remember questions, listen to suggestions from my mentor, making sure I remember to use my equipment properly, and most importantly breathe, I was quickly greeted by a smiling Rev. McDonald and I was instantly calmed ever so slightly. Even from the short greetings that were exchanged I could tell that Rev. McDonald possessed a certain level of charisma, dedication, and heart that would enable him to deliver a brilliant interview. The interview began and as quickly as it began, it was over. Rev. McDonald proved to be a true storyteller as he weaved his way through not only his personal history, but also the history of Atlanta and America as a whole as it relates to the development of the Black Church. I was very pleased and excited to get back to NPR and listen to the audio, however, I was not really looking forward to transcribing over 30 minutes of audio.   

Following my interview, it was time to begin compiling my story in a cohesive and informative fashion that would enable an audience to develop an understanding of the continuing evolution of the Black Church. With the assistance of my mentor, I worked to do just that, slicing clips, creating audio sequences, and transcribing the Reverend's brilliant words.

This program allowed me to gain experience with social media, preparing a pitch, transcribing audio, and so much more. I am a proud to say I participated in the Next Generation Radio Project.