When I got the email that I had been chosen for Next Generation Radio, I was so excited that I ran to tell the first person I could find—a very confused administrative assistant in my office at the University of Missouri. But then, panic. I hadn’t touched a microphone since 2012 when I was an intern for the Arts Desk at National Public Radio. In the years since logging tape for Susan Stamberg, I had put a journalism career on hold as I pursued my love for traveling and studying foreign languages—a pursuit that has taken me across the globe but farther and farther away from public radio.
My week as a Next Generation Radio fellow has taught me a lot. When independent journalist Valeria Fernandez spoke to us about how she was able to transition from literary scholarship to reporting, it felt like she was talking directly to me, a master’s student in Russian literature.
But this experience has also reminded me—sometimes the hard way—of tips and tricks I had long forgotten since trading in my microphone and Marantz for poetry by Mayakovsky. My mentor, KJZZ reporter Carrie Jung, was patient as she ran me through the basics of how to interview for radio. I struggled with remembering all the things I had to juggle, like making sure I was wearing my headphones while recording and getting my interviewees to speak in complete sentences, necessary for a non-narrated story.
One of the biggest issues was that while I found my subject easy to understand—perhaps because I was raised in a family where Spanglish is the official language—others struggled with her accent. The lesson, however, is an important one for a journalist to take away: consider perspectives different from your own.