By Estefanía De León

Mentor: Charla Bear

Austin’s East Cesar Chavez neighborhood was the heartbeat of the Mexican-American community. Now, development is threatening the area’s traditional art and culture.

Muralist Felipe Garza has created public art in Austin for more than 30 years. His work celebrates the history of the Mexican-American experience and preserves the heritage of the neighborhood. Recently, one of his pieces, the La Lotería mural, was painted over when South By Southwest commissioned a new mural in its place. The destruction of the mural angered long-time residents who had appreciated it for almost three decades.

“This is the community’s art. And if they own it then just like anything else, if someone breaks in your house and steals something that you have, that you love, you want it back.”

–La Lotería lead artist Felipe Garza

Behind the Story: My Next Generation Radio experience


Imagine trying to drink water from a fire hose. That is how this week was for me, but in a good way. There was so much information thrown at me all at once, which is the only way I could have learned so much. I had done audio work before, but nothing on this scale. This time, I had to absorb things faster than usual if I wanted to get a good piece. Everything was crammed into a few hours and some things into a few minutes. Not one second could be wasted.

Day one in the field was intense. The first hour of the interview quickly turned out to be a bigger challenge than I expected. The audio equipment was foreign to me and seemed to be getting in the way of my reporting. I worried about whether the levels were right or if my microphone placement was okay and could not concentrate on the questions I was asking or the answers I was getting.

That day we spent three hours with my subject. Slowly but surely, I felt how my rapport with him improved and how he opened up more as time went on. My concern about handling the equipment faded as I got the hang of it and it soon became an extension of my arm. The beauty of that first day unfolded right before my eyes, and ears.

The next production days were just as important as the first, if not more. I had to log the tape of our three-hour interview and that took up pretty much the entire day. It could get excruciating at times, but it made piecing the script together a lot simpler.

To a novice ear, when you lay out all the audio there are a lot of things you miss. A few snaps you don’t hear, or audio distortion that could have been caused by the wind. By no means am I an expert at discerning theses things, but after this week I feel like my ear is tuning itself to capture those types of sounds.

My mentor, Charla Bear, also played an important role in all the major improvements I saw in myself this week. She is seriously a superwoman because she can do all of these things out in the field by herself. With her guidance, she helped me envision myself eventually doing another piece like this on my own. These are the lessons that will help me get where I want to go in journalism and will stay with me as I develop my career.