How I found my Voice
By Rolando Hernandez

A part of me knew I loved stress, and another part (the very nosey part) knew I loved talking to people and hearing their stories. It became kind of natural for me to gravitate towards a career in journalism, but after that I was kind of lost. I dabbled in print and TV, but neither really felt right to me. It wasn’t until I took an audio class at the University of Texas at Austin where I almost felt like I found my place. Participating in NPR’s Next Generation Radio gave me the confidence and skills to see myself in radio. 

Before this program, I knew it would be hard to get into journalism. As a person of color, you don’t see or hear a lot of people who are like you in the news. Whether they realize it or not, NextGen radio taught me to make a space for myself in this industry. If I want to make change, and share the stories I feel should be shared, it’s the responsibility of me and others in my community to aid in shaping the future of this industry. 

Throughout this rigorous week, I learned how to record and edit audio, wrote a web-based story and even pivoted story ideas to make a piece I am proud to call my own. Participating in this program not only taught me to appreciate the craft of audio, but also to appreciate the teams behind the stories shared. What I accomplished this week may have been my work alone, but it was the support from the team that made the story what it is today.

As journalists, our job is to talk to people, but given where we are in a pandemic, it proves to be difficult. NPR’s NextGen team, with their experience and dedication, was able to maneuver me through a profession’s sudden shift. Not a lot of people can say they’ve worked shoulder to shoulder with some of the top reporters and editors in the industry. But NextGen took a chance on me and helped me through every step of the reporting process. From the guidance of my mentor, Stella Chavez from KERA, I was able to negotiate the difficulties of a last-minute turnaround, and I greatly value the conversations we shared about the industry, reporting passions and Turkish TV.

NextGen creates a space for learning, whether you have experience in audio or not. The lessons you learn and the stories you hear are unforgettable and touch anyone who is a part of it. It was an experience I will recommend to anyone who has a passion for storytelling and the drive to learn audio.