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A journal of social practice & professional engagement for the Antioch community
 

Community Voices: Mari Smith ’19 at WYSO Public Radio

The organization that I currently work for is WYSO public radio as a Miller Fellow, right here in Yellow Springs. I am in charge of a podcast called “The Antioch Word” and I also edit raw interviews for Storycorps, an organization whose mission is to share the stories of everyday Americans through radio. I work directly under Juliet Fromholt, the host of Kaleidoscope, an alternative music show that airs every wednesday night. Many of the radio hosts and  staff are people who had entered WYSO through taking a radio class called Community Voices (which I also took), keeping the voices broadcast by Daytonians, for Daytonians.

At a quick glance, my workplace may seem quite mundane. Most of my days are spent at a desk, editing away on Hindenburg journalist, an audio editing program.  This tedious work can be seen as unrewarding and and repetitive to some, but for those who stick around long enough, magical.

Through radio, I am able to capture a person in one fragment of their lives. May it be complaining about the latest goings on at Antioch, or about a frustrating city merger in Dayton, it’s all vital to the story that is unfolding. This version of themselves is forever locked inside of my memory card, for me to freely listen to over and over to the point of memorizing an entire conversation, and fully absorbing the content. I am then able to carefully analyze each bit of sound and find the most appropriate way to portray their character. Do I chose the more pessimistic comment? Does the slight pause add to the emotion that is conveyed? Is the stylistic choice appropriate for the mood? Radio is like being handed jagged pieces of glass that I, the producer/editor, have to arrange into a coherent piece of art. It was through thinking about these parallels, and understanding the extent of my power as the conductor of these voices that I came to fully appreciate my job.

The most recent piece I completed was about the People of Color at Antioch. This piece was extremely difficult to finish because of the sensitivity of the subject. I was worried about a number of things. Firstly, I did not want to misrepresent the interviewees who had already felt unheard. Secondly, I did not want to make this piece about the tensions between races, as much as I wanted to create an open stream of consciousness from the point of view of POC. Thirdly, this was the final project for my community voices class with it’s own criteria to be met. In the very end, an all engulfing  theme came to me: the concept of acknowledgement. More than anything in the world, Poc on campus felt they were seen for their skin color, and not their opinions, their race instead of themselves. They had just wanted to be truly seen and heard, and deserved to be. My boss loved the story concept and gave me the okay to have it broadcasted on air this summer.

This Co-op has shown me a lot about the importance of listening, and turning off my own brain to authentically engage and communicate with those I am interviewing. My life at Antioch is so fast paced that I had to awaken myself to truly be present with my peers and the relationships that had been formed with them. Everyone has a story that deserves a space, and be truly heard.

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Written by

Mari Kikuchi Smith, class of 2019, WYSO Miller Fellow

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