My official invitation email to this year’s Next Generation Radio program filled me with relief as well as anxiety. I’d have the opportunity to learn from some of the best journalists in my dream industry, but I also worried that I’d have no skills of my own to show.
I had lots of experience with print journalism and a tad with video journalism, but I knew little to nothing about audio. I quickly learned that I was playing a whole different ballgame with rules and lingo I had never heard of before. I left the workspace every day with a splitting headache and a million questions in my head as I worried about what I would or wouldn’t be able to accomplish the next day.
I couldn’t help but compare myself to the other mentees as we worked to meet our project deadlines. I couldn’t help but freak out when everyone around me appeared to be one step ahead. But my mentor gave me one piece of advice that I’ll never let slip from my mind when walking into any other newsroom in the future: “You have to believe in yourself because no one else will.”
As the week progressed, the products of my hard work appeared in short spurts. My 12-minute script slimmed down to meet the program limit, people messaged me about my project, and I erased more and more tasks from my list. During my final edit with our managing editor, Traci Tong, my source’s story moved me to tears. I still remember the tone in Traci’s voice as told me, “This is a lovely story.”
The bubbles blown during our short breaks, our extensive Adobe Audition tutorials, and car rides with my mentor are all imprinted into my growing collection of memories. But the blog posts made by my source, Hana Kawashima Ransom, are what I’ll remember the most. In each one, she expressed her gratitude and joy in being featured in her program. Her excitement pushed me through the most stressful, anxiety-inducing parts of creating a non-narrative audio piece.
Looking back, I realize that I learned so much in such a short amount of time. I learned how to create audiograms. I learned how to complete a stand-up. I learned how to work in Adobe Audition. But most importantly, I walked away with a story I’m proud of. One day, I’ll learn to give myself credit when it’s due.