I come to you from Denver, Colorado on a lazy Monday afternoon sitting among 11 felines in a “cat cafe”. Working at Denver Open media this co-op term, I enjoy Saturday, Sunday and Monday off because we do not operate on weekends and Mondays. I have thus been able to get to know this town and immerse myself in it’s weird hipster-culture during my long weekends.
Denver Open Media–or DOM for short–is part of a larger non-profit organization entitled “The Open Media Foundation” . The Open Media foundation is a non-profit focused on putting the power of the media back into the hands of the people. We offer a wide range of classes on basic media production from Adobe photoshop to Sony Vegas Pro as well as free rental of media equipment , studios and software to members. We are especially focused on giving a platform to local artists and other non-profits in the Denver area to help give them more exposure for the work they do to enrich our community. My job at DOM is focused on that outreach piece that is so vital to our organization as a whole. I spend each day either searching for potential partnerships to add to our database, or reaching out to said partnerships by phone or by foot.
One skill I have obtained from this job is to give a 30 second to pitch to our potential clients about our organization and how they can benefit from a partnership with us. Unlike my previous non-profit job that had been around for years before I came, this non-profit just started up in 2012 and is still gaining its’ reputation in the greater Denver area. Even though we have a consistent flow of funding through a mix of the city of Denver, memberships and private donors, we still lack a lot of the structure and resources a robust and successful non-profit should have.
Much like Antioch College, if someone has a new idea for a show or an event, it is up to them to spearhead it and put in paid, and unpaid hours to make it a reality. Many people here do the work of three or four employees and understand that this is what comes with the job. When I first started this internship, I was given a model for how I could independently make money by doing underwriting for them to sustain my time here. This was actually not the case. Not only was it my job to write and produce the promos, it was implicitly my job to find those sponsors and ask them for their money, and or membership to our station.
This was a very hard roadblock to overcome because A.) I had never done outreach before and was Brand new to Denver and B.) DOM was so new, that it was completely up to me to inform them about what sort of work we do and how we could benefit them without a reputation. As a result I did not make much money personally. However, I ended up establishing connections with over a dozen organizations. I made three radio promos, created the station’s official Instagram account, and helped them develop a radio proficiency class for members (like I said, three or four jobs). I would recommend this co-op to anyone who is interested in developing non-profits and is not afraid of having a challenging day to day experience.
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.