Community Radio Reporting From Home

Sonya Lustig (she/her), Journalism + Design ’21
Minors: Hispanic Studies, Interdisciplinary Science
Instagram: @sonyamarie510
Twitter: @LustigSonya
Creative / Social Justice

Project Description
Throughout my time as a Journalism  + Design student at Eugene Lang, I’ve become increasingly passionate about the use of audio in creating accessible, engaging news pieces. During my last semester on campus, I could be found at the equipment center nearly every week checking out and returning microphones and audio interfaces. Needless to say, I was deeply disappointed at the prospect of returning home to California during the pandemic with no access to this technology.

With the help of Eugene Lang’s Opportunity Award, however, I was able to purchase my own audio equipment, which will be with me for years to come. Having the luxury of a beginner’s-level home studio is something I never anticipated achieving during my time in college, but the door’s that the equipment has offered to me are endless. Not only was I able to record and co-produce a news piece for WNSR: The New School’s radio, but I also gained involvement in two local community radio stations in California as I improved my audio narrative skills. Now, I can’t wait to put this equipment to use on my senior capstone project, which will be completed at the end of next semester.

What Form will your Final Project Take?
Audio news and feature pieces

Who was supporting you in with work?
Iliana Cepero

How has this project has been impactful or transformative — for you personally or for those this work has impacted:
During the past winter break, I had the opportunity to take an intensive course with Sarah  Montague  entitled “Hearing News.” The two-week course was structured similarly to a public radio newsroom, in which students worked together in teams to create daily news rundowns and collaborated on a final piece to be published by WNSR: The New School’s Radio. My group ultimately decided on a story that took place in Brooklyn, and while I was residing in California, I was struck by the possibility of reporting on and producing a story from across the country. Using Google Docs to collaborate on a script remotely, I was able to record narration for the story using my new audio equipment. Ultimately, we all felt the piece was successful, and co-creating it during a pandemic with the help of my college is an experience I’ll never forget.

What would you do differently? How would you advise a student who is going to do something similar?
If I were to do anything differently, it would be creating one or two short-term goals for my project, in addition to my broader, more long-term goals. When I first pitched my opportunity award idea, I was thinking of the audio equipment as something that would help me for years to come as an aspiring audio news producer. While I still believe this, I quickly learned that focusing on creating a tangible outcome is necessary and that focusing too much on the “big-picture” can be overwhelming at times. One of the short-term goals I ended up setting for myself was the completion of the WNSR piece. This worked out well, but I would still advise other students to determine a deliverable for their award sooner rather than later.

Are you going to publish or print your work?
WNSR: The New School’s Radio (already published)

Link to “Death by A Thousand Cuts: Brooklyn Activists Take Stand Against Gas Company,” one of the audio stories Sonya worked on using her new equipment:
https://art19.com/shows/new-school-news/episodes/134bd247-22de-4b57-8317-0060f1107191/embed

Short summary
My experience with the Eugene Lang’s Opportunity Award was deeply restorative. At the time that I applied for the award, I was feeling discouraged by the multiple semesters spent at home during the pandemic and was struggling to find the resources that would allow me to continue strengthening my skills in audio journalism. When I first learned about the ELOA’s through the CESJ office at the New School, I knew that I had found a key that would help me unlock the countless opportunities that I’d been dreaming of. Having unrestricted access to the equipment I purchased with my award, alongside the support of New School faculty has increased my motivation, creativity, and professional confidence even beyond my expectations.

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