By Michael Baez

Mentor: Kate McGee

Austin’s reputation as the live music capital of the world caters to a variety of musical tastes. From bluegrass to electronic; from indie rock to country. But hip hop has had a harder time finding its voice.  Radio DJ’s Steve Savage and DJ Flexx encounter that struggle firsthand from prejudiced club owners who won’t book hip hop acts to inexperienced artists who don’t know how to promote themselves.

Listen to these DJs talk about what hip hop artists in Austin need to do if they want to become part of the city’s famous music culture.

Learning the ways of a new form of storytelling

Seeing other student journalists working with professional journalists brought together an interesting breadth of different experiences and perspectives on journalism and storytelling. I did my best to take advantage of the amount of experience in the room by learning from as many people as possible, and asking questions. In the end, crafting a story and working in a newsroom means that each of the hundreds of decisions you make are reflected in the story that you produce. It was valuable to having a wealth of knowledge as guidance in that sea of decision. It improved the quality of piece in the right direction.

Although I was able to see similar storytelling concepts between forms, I also saw my the rigidness of my ideas. I learned it’s important not to marry yourself to one idea. I enjoyed having the chance to document the frustration of a group of artists through the eyes of two veteran DJs. They offered an important perspective to an issue that people might not know about.

In the field, the constant reevaluation of the story you can and want to tell comes with every word that come out of a subject mouth. Those words craft the questions you ask them. In a non-narrated audio story, the lack of my own voice removed my understanding of the issue as a part of the piece. Instead we were forced to ask people to become teachers of their own history. Instead of looking for quotes or some smaller piece of knowledge, the entire story was given to people in the community.

Having a mentor who has had the experience of coaxing those story out of people, people who might have not been asked to tell their story before, made the process so much less daunting. Kate’s experience in interviewing for audio showed me what words to listen for that lead to the real story.  She taught me how to see the content we did have as a complete story, then allowed me to craft a complete story that would come to life after hours of editing.

I had come in with a mind set on goals for my piece and although the path to those goals changed, I was happy to make good on my goals and talk about the issues that existed for hip hop artist in Austin.