What Does It Mean To Be American?

Comm Grad Autumn Micketti Explores Diversity in Southern Oregon Via NPR’s NextGenRadio Training Program

Qualifying for a competitive national program in radio journalism gave 2021 Communication grad Autumn Micketti an opening to explore the intersection of race and everyday life in the Rogue Valley.

Sponsored by National Public Radio and organized by Capital Public Radio in Sacramento, the NextGenRadio program provides training and mentorship for aspiring multimedia journalists via intensive workshops across the nation.

The program provides professional development aligned with the values and practices of NPR. Its training and mentorship focuses on competitively selected participants with interests in podcasting, narrative audio storytelling, and written and visual journalism.

“The program was extremely useful,” said Micketti. “It not only helped me flex my audio editing and interview muscles, it connected me to a community that’s really supportive and always sharing jobs, tips, and general advice about the public radio/journalistic world.”

Micketti had been turned down for the NextGenRadio in a prior year, but program leader Doug Mitchell encouraged her to apply again.

The program paired Micketti with Tiffany Camhi, the All Things Considered host for Oregon Public Broadcasting, and Camhi’s mentorship helped validate Micketti’s commitments to journalism and writing.

“The NPR Next Generation Project is a very demanding program and it really asks a lot of its reporters,” said Camhi. “They’re expected to report, produce and edit a full multimedia package in just five days. Autumn was more than ready to meet those demands and her eagerness to learn new — and sometimes difficult — storytelling skills were admirable.”

Micketti’s NextGenRadio cohort sought to answer the question: What does it mean to be an American? Micketti responded with a story of a close personal connection, Nikki Schmelzle.

“I just happened to be friends with a woman who was an Army vet who served for eight years,” Micketti said. “Nikki is also a black woman from Mississippi who is quite religious. This checks all the boxes of someone who is completely different from me.”

At the beginning of the week-long training, Micketti gathered all of the audio she needed, and the rest of the week was focused on the audio editing and the stand-up video that introduces the piece to the audience. She plans to do more audio and sound engineering in the future.

“By the end of the week, Autumn created a beautiful and powerful story that was true to her subject,” said Camhi.

Among SOU graduates, Erika Soderstrom participated in the NextGenRadio program in the Fall of 2018 and has gone on to an internship and then a full-time position as a producer with MarketWatch, produced by American Public Radio in Los Angeles.

Story by Kelli Albert, Community Manager for the Communication Program at Southern Oregon University.

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