“Friendraising” in Nantucket

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On the ferry to Nantucket

It’s hard to believe that my internship at Living on Earth is now over. I miss the creative and supportive atmosphere, the interesting stories I helped produce, and of course, I miss working on such important mission.

My experiences during my last week reminded me how important that mission really is. To close the internship, I attended a “friendraising” event that the show hosted in Nantucket with the other interns in the office. I had the opportunity to tour the UMass Field Station on the island (where the event took place) and listen to a few fantastic speakers, like New York Times bestselling author Carl Safina. At the event, I met students and adults from all over who were passionate about protecting the ocean. And the speakers shared emerging science that may be able to help us connect with, and therefore

With the rest of the Living on Earth family in Nantucket
With the rest of the Living on Earth family in Nantucket

preserve, our environment. In fact, there is even emerging science being studied at the field station itself. 

One line of one of the speeches got to me in particular. Safina said,  “We now know, and by that I mean the few scientists that read the paper know that….” He then went on to say that most of what the scientific community knows about is not  known by the general public. That is, a huge portion of scientific knowledge is inaccessible to the very people that scientific issues affect.

This is why journalism is important. Journalism is a medium that can make scientific papers, complicated policies, and other jargon-filled issues accessible to the ordinary person. Journalism has the power to boost scientific literacy and expose important truths. I am so glad that I was able to learn about this field through my internship!

Recording my own piece
Recording my own piece

I’ve been able to meet inspiring individuals who we invited to the show who are trying to make a difference on our planet. I’ve been able to learn about the creative processes that go into making a radio piece. And I’ve been able to work on every step of that process. I feel so grateful for the opportunity to be part of it.

I hope to continue exploring my interests in journalism and the environment. In fact, I’m taking both environmental and journalism courses this upcoming semester. I’m not sure exactly what I want to do after graduation. But I know that my internship prepared me to work well in a team, to think creatively and to be passionate about working hard in whatever field I choose.

My internship’s over, but I know that the connections I made this summer are not. I met mentors and friends that I hope to stay in touch with for a long time. To all of my friends who I have told to listen to the show: don’t quit just yet. There are still 5 or 6 pieces I’ve produced that have not yet aired. Keep your eyes peeled!

 

~Jay Feinstein

Social Justice WOW Recipient

The Day in the Life of a Radio Show

Hello everyone!

I’m happy to share my adventures with everyone again! It has been adventurous. I’ve had the opportunity to write, research, and voice my own radio piece. I’ve talked to extraordinary innovators, like a woman who is starting a zero waste store and another who wrote a book inspiring young girls to pursue science. I’ve even had an opportunity to Skype with the government of Paris, which just passed a green transportation law banning cars built before 1997.

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My voice was on the radio!

Now that I’ve had a significant amount of time in my internship, I figured I would share the creative process we go through at Living on Earth when we take an idea and turn it into a radio piece.

Of course, first, we need to find an idea. It can be anything, well anything related to the environment. There are a few hubs for that. I like Eurekalert.org, which provides a feed of all sorts of new scientific studies. Many of them are related to environmental health. I found the study associated with my bee piece on this website.

Other good resources include Google News, Environmental Health News, and Daily Climate. It’s also always great to find an environmental perspective for a mainstream news event, like the election. Sometimes good stories just appear, right at our feet. Literally. As I mentioned in my last post, we often receive advanced copies of books in the mail. Some of these books are really interesting, so we invite quite a few authors to the program.

Once we have a good story, we need to figure out how to approach it: What angle will we take? Who could we interview? For the Paris piece that I mentioned above (it is yet to be aired), I spoke to over 10 people in order to research the topic and figure out what would make the best story. For this specific story, language was a main barrier. There were a few fantastic, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic potential guests that were not ideal for our English speaking audience, but I found one that was just right.

Next, we need to finalize a list of questions for the guest. I usually write most of them before I even speak to potential guests. I then revise after I talk to the guests and figure out what they can speak about the best. We often call the pre-interview conversations, “test interviews.” These allow for the guests to become familiar with our questions, for us to become more familiar with the topic, and for us to make sure all of the technology works.

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There are usually quite a few tracks of audio in Pro Tools!

Next, it’s interview time! We usually record on an iPhone App called “Report It” while we speak to a guest on video chat. Interviews last between a half hour and an hour. It’s always great to finally see what our guests look like because prior to that we usually just talk to them on the phone.

After that, we edit the interview. We use a program called Pro Tools to edit the audio, which includes editing out awkward silences, filler words, and parts of the interview that don’t fit. Sometimes we have to edit hour long interviews down to just 15 minutes, and that can be tough. For one of the pieces I did, I also was able to play with putting music into the piece.

Then, once we write the introduction, the DACS (a blurb that goes with each story), and choose pictures, we’re done!

It always feels great after we finish a story. And then… its time to work on another one!

I like working on the show a lot. It feels great to see a finished product every time a piece I worked on goes on the air. And it’s great to feel like such an important part of the team. I know that I would love a career where I could feel the same way. I’ve been able to work on my writing skill, my creative skills, and my people skills all while learning about all sorts of new technologies. Lastly, I love that this is social justice work. There are so many important issues that we cover on the show, and it’s great to be able to share these issues with the world.

I know that all of these skills will be very useful after Brandeis. I am very happy about this internship placement.

 

Jay Feinstein, ’17

Interning at Living on Earth

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My cubicle at UMass Boston

Stationed amongst the urban brick and concrete UMass Boston Campus is an office inspired by clear rivers, thick forests and fresh, clean air. The radio show Living on Earth, where I am interning this summer, is a hub for environmental justice and sustainability, surrounded by the metropolitan center of New England.

I am an environmental studies major at Brandeis with an interest in writing and journalism. So this show, which broadcasts its weekly environmental program on 250 public radio stations around the country, is a great fit for me. I hope to explore the intersection of my twin interests of journalism and environmental studies in hopes of preparing for life after Brandeis. I also hope to meet people in the fields of journalism and environmental studies and provide a public service. For social change to occur, the public must be made aware of pressing environmental issues, and this show’s mission is to get the word out about these issues. As an intern at Living on Earth, I will research environmental issues and the inequalities that they cause for broadcast to a national audience.

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The recording studio

Although my internship has just begun, I have been able to work on many aspects of the program.

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Steve Curwood, the host of the show, recording introductions to the pieces

I’ve reached out to potential guests for the show, I’ve written interview questions and introductions, I’ve worked on the show’s website, and I’ve even learned how to use computer programs to edit audio. I had no idea that radio shows often edit out the “um”s and “like”s and stutters that are commonplace in colloquial speech. But when it’s a pre-recorded show, it doesn’t hurt to make our guests sound smarter. We can even add sound effects to the background: the song of a bird, the splash of a stream, or whatever else fits with a piece.

So far, my experience has been great. I’ve learned a lot about what goes into producing a radio show, while exploring my interest in the environment. Our team is small, but very friendly. They share my love for social justice and the environment. In addition to our impact-focused work, we also have lively discussions during lunch. Lastly, our view of the Boston waterfront is refreshing.

Pro Tools is the editing software that I learned how to use.
Pro Tools is the editing software that I learned how to use.

The juxtaposition between the seagulls that pass overhead and the airplanes that buzz over the sky reminds me why I care about environmental issues. Pollution, harmful toxins, deforestation, extinctions, climate change, among others are part of our world now. But so are animals, forests, deserts and oceans. We must learn how to mitigate the first list, so we can enjoy the second.

This internship is a great first step for me to use everything I’ve learned at Brandeis to understand how to further my impact. In addition to everything I’ve mentioned, there’s an unexpected perk: quite a few publishers send the office advanced copies of books. I already finished one, and I expect to get a lot more reading done this summer.

I look forward to continuing to document my experience! Until then, check out the show on loe.org