By Virginia McCormick

At the start of the Next Generation Radio program at Sacramento State, we were asked to come up with three personal goals that we’d like to accomplish throughout the week. I listed mine as: to develop more focused angles, be able to cover a subject that I have established connections to, and improve my ability to think about deeper perspectives.

This was after our pitches, of which I had six in total. Seeing as I ended up scaling it back down to two pieces, in hindsight I really should have added “be able to reserve expectations” to my list of goals. This was something that my mentor, Elaine Heinzman, helped me pin down as an issue. On the drive back to campus after interviewing for the student reporters piece, Elaine talked me through this idea. I realized that I was having trouble wrestling with my desire to complete the things I wanted with any reasonable application of time and effort. And for my previous three goals — I think I was able to touch on them all as well.

The first spot was intense. I’d decided to interview three different people for the piece — student reporters from Sacramento City College. It was an emotional topic, covering how they juggled their emotions with being reporters covering a shooting that happened on their own campus. It ended up being a super-spot, mainly because I wanted all three voices included. It presented many problems, from timing to structure. But the big issues came on day three.

I was so frazzled going into the editing that I forgot crucial steps for taking care of the audio I had recorded the previous day. There was a moment when Tom, our resident tech hero, wasn’t sure if he’d be able to save the project I had spent so much effort putting together. But it worked — thankfully. And it showed me how I really needed to step back and make sure I’m hitting all the small but essential details before trying to progress.

Going into the the web story and spot, I felt much more confident in my abilities. I had the near technical meltdown behind me, and was ready to tackle The Guardians piece with a positive and significantly more fun-orientated attitude. It helped that the subject itself was more amusing. Plus, Elaine and I got to start day four with a scavenger-hunt downtown!

It was nice to be able to walk around and work on the puzzle — not only because it helped me in the writing process, but also because it was just a fun, stress-reducing change from the previous day. The day’s interview went much smoother, which I think was due to a confident headspace and more familiarity with my equipment. The calm extended to day five, shifting between audio layouts, script reading and eating tomatoes in the Capital Public Radio garden. There was also a lot of laughs and hula-hooping (for stress relief!), and it was to wind down the week.

I honestly can’t speak highly enough of Elaine. She was the perfect amount of teacher and boss for the week, and made sure that I was keeping track of myself and my work. We bounced off each other perfectly, and I appreciated how she never coddled me. Any time I was struggling, she was willing to talk me through it and see the light at the end. My mistakes were my own to make, and Elaine helped me learn from those mistakes fully.

This week has been wonderful. It was absolutely one of the most challenging things I’ve experienced so far. There were times when I almost felt like crying, but I was always supported by the fellow students, the mentors and the Next Gen Radio staff. And the crying feeling only happened a little bit — it was hugely offset by a sense of healthy difficulty and a ton of learning.

Overall, what an amazing experience!