Next Generation Radio helped set me on a clearer path to succeed in my future career

by Son Ly

In the past few days, I’ve learned so much from the Next Generation Radio project.

When I applied, I wasn’t sure I would be accepted because my focus is solely in TV broadcast and video journalism, but I  really enjoyed listening to local radio stations such as KPCC. My favorite shows at that station are All Things Considered and Morning Edition.

I was ecstatic when I found out that I was accepted into the program.

The USC campus is amazing. My professors at Cal State University Northridge always tell me that USC offers one of the best journalism programs in the nation and I truly believe that. I’m the only one in my family studying journalism and I often question this decision. Spending a week at USC made me realize that anything is possible.

I’m extremely lucky to be paired up with my mentor Tena Rubio, a journalist in residence (faculty) at USC. She possesses all of the qualities one would see in a great mentor. She is kind and patience in teaching me all of the steps that I need to do in order to check all the boxes.

Out in the field, she taught me the importance of correctly holding the mic and listening for random noises while recording “ambi” and “room tone.” Back at the workstation, she taught me the importance of capturing breaths and getting rid of mouth noise.

Regarding my story, I’m happy with it. I’ve never heard of Operation Peter Pan before so it was refreshing to learn about it as I went through the program. Ana Garcia was easy to talk to and we had a lovely conversation as I learned more about her story of leaving Cuba.

I particularly related to Garcia when she explained how the language barrier made it difficult for her to reconnect with her parents after years of separation. For me, I constantly struggle to communicate to my parents my reasons for picking journalism as my profession. Hopefully, my parents will have more of an understanding of my passion after this program.

I was surprised when our managing editor Traci Tong listened to my audio story with her eyes closed. I soon copied her and found that I was much more immersed in the story. With this method, I was able to tune everything out and go back to the moment I was interviewing Ana Garcia.

After this program, I now have a clearer path to my future career. I discovered that I have fallen in love with public radio and journalism more than ever.