Thursday, July 12, 2012

Camp KPAC - An Adventure in Radio

“At school, most of my peers, who hardly know me, would consider me a quiet, shy girl. There is one thing, however, that is slowly allowing me to return to my normal self. Something that allows me to get out of my box and experience life. That something is creativity.” 
(from an essay submitted by one of the students chosen for this year's Camp KPAC)

Radio campers observe the KPAC control room.
The inaugural Camp KPAC has been meeting throughout this week of July 9, fueling the curiosity of a hand-selected group of young people about the craft (and magic) of radio. About 18 months in the making, from initial suggestion to first run, Camp KPAC is serving as an introduction to the skills of interview and basic audio production. So far, so good!

Interview in progress.
As one of the instructors, along with Nathan Cone and Paul Flahive, I have marveled at the smarts and creative energy this group of seven students has brought to the project. Yes, I was apprehensive as we counted down the final days before camp opened on Monday. First, we crossed our fingers that the students who had been chosen to participate would arrive with curious minds and the spirit to learn. Day one proved we had just such a group. I also admit to losing a few night's sleep over concerns about the mixed group of local high school musicians who had agreed to serve as guinea pigs, to be questioned and prodded in interviews one day, then put in front of microphones another day with instructions to play their Bach and Mozart. Again, I needn't have worried, for these young musicians were not only comfortable speaking to a microphone, they were also extremely proficient at playing for the mics.
Rachel Halvorson playing Bach.

It's a lot of territory to be covered, to get from never having interviewed anyone before, to learning an audio editing program new to everyone, to now the final day and a looming deadline. As I told the kids today, deadline is what drives radio, it's what motivates us to stay on task, to put as much creative and technical energy as possible into a project, yet have it broadcast-ready when the clock says “play.” It's not entirely unlike having a research paper or a science fair project ready when the teacher says “pass it in,” yet here it is really a voluntary commitment – these kids could well be hanging at the mall with their friends, but instead they have come with a genuine enthusiasm and readiness to learn.

Lauri Pearson sharing her passion for music and radio.
On Wednesday, we were privileged to be visited by Lauri Pearson, a San Antonio based radio and television professional whose work is on the other side, so to speak: commercial broadcasting as opposed to the not-for-profit broadcasting of public radio. But her message was Universal and on point. We work in radio because we love the medium. In Lauri's case, the passion came from an even deeper place. “I love music. My life is nothing without music.”

When I thanked Lauri for taking the time to talk to us, I mentioned that I thought she had “lit some fires” with what she had said. In reply, Lauri wrote:

“James, it was my pleasure! Great young people with passion and smarts, craving the paving of their own way... I feel much better about the future now. :)”

I hope that our group of young adults who have devoted their time and energy to this week of learning feel something akin to Lauri's enthusiasm. This is certainly an uplifting experience for those of us in the business of radio, to see an interest and (dare I say it?) passion for this precious medium of communication which we call radio. I can hardly wait for the final day, not for the goodbyes, but rather to celebrate what each individual has been able to accomplish during this intensive week of learning. Thanks to all!

-James Baker-

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