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‘Radio’ Category

  1. Disembodied voices of the ancestors

    April 4, 2012 by Kaitlin

    So, I know it’s not really good blog etiquette to post promises of exciting stories, not deliver on those promises and instead drop in with reminiscences about a deceased grandparent, but that’s what happening.

    My paternal grandmother, Grandma Parker, died a year ago today, and I’ve thought a lot about her in recent weeks. She was always the grandparent I felt closest to. When I was younger, this closeness came from shared activities like reading and baking bread and everyone always telling me I got my blue eyes from her.

    A young Grandma Parker, sunning with her sisters at Lake Titus

    As I got older though, I came to realize we really were kindred spirits in a lot of ways. We both loved being outdoors and had a real curiosity about other countries and cultures. She always encouraged my writing and was quite the writer herself. We’d have lengthy email exchanges (she also LOVED technology and was rockin’ Apple computers and digital cameras way before they were cool) about our lives past and present.

    But it wasn’t just with me—she took a real interest in all her eight grandchildren’s lives. She was always emailing, Skyping, and in the later years, even Facebooking. She wanted to be up to date on our most recent achievements so she could brag to her bridge group. More than that though, she loved people and she loved being in contact and making connections with them.

    Looking back on one of those emails, sent shortly after I had moved to LA, I’m struck by what a forward-thinking, open-minded woman she was, especially given the time period and her surroundings. I don’t think she ever led any marches, but she lived her life in a way I really admire–a kind of quiet rebellion against the norm:

    When I hear about the experiences you have had and are having, I can’t help but contrast them with mine.  Born in 1922, I grew up in a town with about 6 Jewish families and no blacks.  When I was in high school our sponsor teacher resigned from our sorority because we invited Sara Cohen to join!!  When our Congregational church invited the Jubilee Singers to come to town, the local hotel wouldn’t put them up because they were black.  Church members took them into their homes.  I got through college without ever hearing the word “lesbian”, and gay meant we were happy.  I knew a couple of boys we called “sissies” but I never dreamed there was anything sexual about it.

    I was a part of the 60’s revolution when I went back to college for my Master’s and started working with disadvantaged children in the inner city, mostly black.  I started thinking for myself rather late in life and searched for a church that I could accept. I came to think that each person has to find his/her own spiritual path, and I believe now that the Universe (God) operates on basic principles that we have to discover. The law of gravity and laws of magnetism operate for everyone whether we believe in them or not!! I think there are many principles that we are discovering with our own bodies, even, and perhaps Yoga addresses some of these.  Now that I am facing the last years, months, days of my life, I will soon discover the answer to the final mystery.  I’m willing to take my chances thinking that I have lived a life full of love, have never knowingly done harm to anyone and strongly believe that my spirit will live on in some form.  If I’m wrong, so be it!!!  Sorry I can’t let you know!!

    There have been so many ups and downs in both Cape Town and London that I wish I could have shared with her. I had just started to really get into radio reporting before she died, and she’d always remind me to enunciate so her old ears would be able to understand. I think about her now, every time I step into a recording booth or struggle with some script writing: word it so Grandma Parker would get it.

    My time in London is drawing to a close, and I’m not sure what the next step will be, but whatever it is, my ultimate hope is that it will involve creating radio that will do justice to her spirit.

    It seemed fitting then, that during a Xhosa language lesson in Cape Town, we learned that when the Xhosa people first saw and heard radio, they called it “unomathotholo” or, roughly, “the disembodied voices of the ancestors.” In Xhosa culture, the spirits of one’s ancestors play an important role in daily life, so it makes sense that lacking any context, the voices coming from the radio could well be voices of their deceased relatives. In a way, they weren’t far off. There’s so much of what we do say and what we’re even allowed to say that’s owed to the voices of those who came before.

  2. A few good interns?

    August 30, 2011 by Kaitlin

    I can’t believe I didn’t link to this sooner.

    Before I left Cape Town, Mike Rahfaldt, the executive director of the Children’s Radio Foundation, asked me to write a little bit about my experience as an intern at CRF.

    The piece ended up getting posted on, which is super cool because Transom is the place to go to find out what’s new in public radio and also to read priceless bits of radio storytelling advice from industry veterans like Chris Brooks and Alex Blumberg.

    I understand if you don’t want to read the whole sidebar—it’s a little on the long side (Me? Wordy? Never!)–but I’ll issue the same plea here that I did there. If you’re at all interested in youth radio, Africa or experimental storytelling, please shoot an email to Mike or me. Even if you’re not in a situation where you could go to Cape Town right now, CRF has a great radio family around the world, and they’re always looking to add members.

  3. Three pieces of media worth sharing

    August 13, 2011 by Kaitlin

    My last two weeks in Africa were spent tackling the road trip of a lifetime. But more on that later.

    While I was traipsing around Mozambique and Kruger National Park, two jaw-dropping places with a blessed lack of internet connectivity, a couple of radio pieces I had a hand in finally made their ways to the airwaves.

    The first is a piece I worked on for Sandy Tolan’s radio documentary class. It’s a short journey into the life of Mina Kamath, an extraordinary woman who trained and worked as a dentist in India and California, and now runs one of Southern California’s premier metalworking shops. I had so much fun making trips to her art studio and iron workshop, as well as sitting down with her and her husband for interviews in their warm and welcoming West Hills home. I finalized the piece with KQED back in May, and I’m so glad to finally be able to share it with Mina and her family and others in Berkeley who may have been listening.

    The second is in collaboration with the new website Bending Borders. Launched by radio guru Karen Lowe, the site collects experiences from around the world that represent some shared and relatable aspect of human existence, even if it’s happening far away in a culture you may know nothing about. This bit is based on an interview conducted by CRF executive producer Nina Callaghan and originally aired on the Father’s Day Radio Workshop episode. I did some editing and recorded an intro—it’s great to see some CRF work in another context.

    Fatherhood in South Africa by efrost1

    Finally, here’s a video that takes this entry full circle. While we were on our road trip, the talented Andrew Crawford took video footage on his iPod Touch. Granted, the final product pretty much ended up being an homage to his girlfriend, PR extraordinaire Sarah Kane, which is understandable, because shoot, who doesn’t want to do a video homage to Sarah Kane? But it’s still a pretty masterful piece of editing, considering it was done on the fly, and it gives you a good idea of the kinds of people and places we encountered along the way. And don’t skip out on the first three seconds, that’s me blowing out candles on sweet, sweet, on-the-road birthday cupcakes.

  4. Radio Workshop Listening Bonanza

    July 8, 2011 by Kaitlin

    I realized it’s been a while since I’ve posted any new Radio Workshop episodes, the things that actually consume most of my time in Cape Town. I’ve had so much fun planning, interviewing, writing, and editing these episodes. Even shows that are repackages of earlier episodes, like the refugee piece, were like this fun audio adventure since it was my first time hearing the tape and my coworkers are very generous and let me run wild with the editing software.

    The shows run about 15 minutes each, so if you’d like to download and listen on the go, you can subscribe to our free podcast via iTunes. Otherwise, have a listen right here.

    Radio Workshop: Crossing borders to find a home by childrensradiofoundation

    Radio Workshop: Is the World Cup more than just a memory? by childrensradiofoundation

    Radio Workshop: A difficult conversation with parents by childrensradiofoundation


  5. You call this art?

    July 5, 2011 by Kaitlin

    Every year, in the dead of South African winter, the country’s National Arts Festival takes over the university town of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape. Telling South Africans I’d be going to the Grahamstown Festival would invoke one of two responses: “Ohmygosh, you are going to just love it! The art, the creative geniuses, the parties—it’s all fabulous!”

    Or: “What’s Grahamstown?”

    Well, to my travel companions and me, Grahamstown is that place where we spent some quality time in the police station, saw a Dutch guy ribbon dance while wearing high heels and singing Lady Gaga, and slept in multiple layers of pants and sweaters because it was so cold—and that was all within the first 12 hours of arriving.


  6. Moments from Paarl

    June 23, 2011 by Kaitlin

    Paarl: A city of contrasts

    Before we even left for Cape Town, Erna, our USC faculty adviser for the program, asked me to help lead a radio workshop in Paarl, a beautiful mountain town in the wine country surrounding Cape Town. I agreed months ago, not fully aware what I’d be getting myself into.

    Now that the long weekend in Paarl has come and gone, I’m still processing the experiences, lessons, and surprising discoveries that came out of the workshop.

    On a Thursday morning, our whole group piled into Gavin’s van for the trip out to Paarl. We spent the afternoon getting to know the young adults we’d be working with and becoming familiar with the recording and editing equipment. When we gathered into the small computer lab, over 20 people in all, and everyone suddenly turned to me, and it hit me. Holy shit, I’ve got to lead this thing. So I took a deep breath, had everyone pick up their Tascam recorders and press the “on” button. You’ve gotta start somewhere, right?

    If you’d have asked me then if we’d have produced 20 minute radio show three days later, I’d have said heck no.