AirSpace & NASM
In April 2020 I made the switch to more behind the scenes work, producing the AirSpace podcast for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. AirSpace looks for the interesting stories at the intersection of Aerospace science and history.
I've produced four full seasons, one mini season of movie episodes, a spin-off called Voyages to Mars, and a companion spoken word album to go with Diplo's MMXX called Under Ancient Skies, and audio for a series of concerts.
The AirSpace team also produced a five episode spin-off called QueerSpace with new hosts and a more scripted organizational structure. QueerSpace tells stories that happen at the intersection of aerospace and LGBTQ+ history and culture. From the community of gay flight attendants, to queer sci-fi to the Lavender Scare. In addition to producing and writing QS episodes, I also crocheted its logo.
And we have a monthly newsletter that I write for.
I do everything from story ideas, scripting, research, outlining, pre-interviewing and coaching.
All the episodes can be found here: https://airandspace.si.edu/learn/airspace-podcast/episodes
For Summer 2022 I'm working with PRX and GBH to produce a mini-season of Detours, the Antiques Roadshow podcast. Episode links to come in fall/winter
I was a reporter for public radio stations from 2013 to 2020 before shifting behind the scenes. The following stories are the 'greatest hits' from that time. They are NOT in chronological order, they are organized by subject. Links to more of my work are at the bottom of the page.
Denotes heard on national air Denotes won an award
Politics, Elections and Economics
When Buttigieg announced he would run for the Democratic nomination for President in 2020, it came as no surprise to the people of South Bend. I've covered Buttigieg for years and continued to cover him as a mayor while he was running for President.
April 2019 / Ongoing
Pete Buttigieg pauses to take a selfie with a supporter at a Dyngus Day event in South Bend on April 22, 2019. "Presidential candidates from Bobby Kennedy on through coming through our community knowing that coming out on the day after Easter in fellowship to get to know voters one on one is politics at its finest," Buttigieg said.
Buttigieg and the Police Shooting in South Bend
When a white police officer shot and killed a black man in South Bend our state-wide reporter based at WVPE, Justin Hicks, took the story. It has been shaped by Buttigieg as Mayor and as presidential candidate. My role in our coverage has been largely editorial. Though I have acted as an extra reporter for larger events. I have produced a few spots for local and state audiences. This is an ongoing story, coverage continues.
On the Wednesday following the Sunday shooting a group gathered to remember all shooting victims. Buttigieg attended and the event turned into a sort of free flowing catharsis of sharing. This audio postcard pulls together voices of people who spoke.
The Friday following the shooting saw a very different event. After a heated gathering at the police station where community members berated Buttigieg and demanded to the Police Chief that he resign, the march headed downtown where Buttigieg and Chief Ruzskowski addressed the anger.
Feature on Employment for All Thing Considered
In 2017 the unemployment rate in Elkhart was near two percent. Down from nearly 20 percent at the height of the recession. This lead employers to look for workers in interesting places, including local middle schools and the county prison.
Indiana #RedforEd Rally
Indiana's teachers are some of the lowest paid in the nation. Like many other states, the teachers have protested state funding. That came to a head in the state in November of 2019 when thousands of teachers flocked to the capital to rally for better school funding and other supports.
Before the rally I went to local teachers, administrators and students to talk to them about why they were planning to go.
I rode a bus with a group from a local school down to Indy for the rally. This spot was for local and state noon newscasts
I covered the rally and filed this piece on the way home for ATC and evening newscasts
Thousands of teachers and other education supporters rally outside the state capital in Indianapolis on November, 19, 2019.
South Bend Debates over Partnership with Purdue Charter
The state of Indiana granted Purdue University a charter to open a high school in South Bend. The move sparked a debate in the city over whether the school would be an 'innovation school' and partner with the district, and an overall debate about charters in South Bend.
I covered an initial public meeting about the charter and the potential partnership.
After several public meetings, the district decided not to partner. This is a feature running through all that happened with that, and what's next for Purdue Polytechnic High School.
High School Closing, then State-District Partnership in Benton Harbor
The relationship between Benton Harbor Area Schools and the state of Michigan has long been contentious. In May 2019 the Governor suggested closing the high school to focus on academics for K-8 students and on paying down the district's massive debt. After community outcry and much back-and-forth the district and the state formed a joint advisory committee to try to come up with a way forward. Their report is due March 31, 2020.
Initially, I did a two-way with the board vice president to set up what was going on and get a local perspective.
Next, there was a community meeting with supporters from all over the state coming to voice displeasure over the announced closing
Gov. Whitmer visited Benton Harbor to talk about the plan and the problems the district faces
Benton Harbor's Mayor went to Lansing with a group to meet with state leaders and protest the proposed closing.
Most recently the district and the state have formed an advisory committee to figure out what's next for the embattled school system
May 2019 / Ongoing
Science, Environment and Weather
High Water Levels, Erosion Threaten Coastal Communities
Water levels in the Great Lakes are at record highs, and expected to get higher. Coastal communities are working to cope with the water, and the erosion exacerbated by an unusually warm winter.
A feature on some of the impact to local communities
Continuing coverage on a congressional visit to the area
Bridgman, Mich. Parks and Recreation head Milo Root directs from inside a barrier of sandbags as volunteers work to protect Weko Beach's century old beach house from the waves
December 2019 / Ongoing
Feature on South Bend Smart Sewers for All Things Considered
This story started as an offhand comment South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg made when he was the guest on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me when the show came to South Bend in February 2018. From there it became an interesting foray into the underground world of smart infrastructure and the Internet of Things.
Microfarming Gains Popularity
Farming on small plots of land has gotten more popular as concerns over the environmental impact of agriculture grow, and demand for local food rises. I visited Several farms in Michiana, as well as other people to eat, sell or otherwise use the food produced.
Right: Emily Anstadt takes pictures of the tacos she made from produce from Sower's Purse Microfarm in Benton Harbor, Mich.. She'll post the pictures to a members Facebook group so other Sower's Purse customers can get ideas of how to cook the food. Below: Clay Bottom Microfarm in Goshen, Ind.
EF-2, and EF-0 tornadoes tore through a daycare center and behind an apartment complex in South Bend.
Growing Kids Learning Center in South Bend the morning after at EF-2 tornado came through the south side of the city. Growing Kids employee Melissa says the tornado went right through where kids are taken as a safe zone during storms.
An EF-2 tornado tore through Saginaw and Tuscola counties in Michigan. The next day we visited the clean up effort to get an idea about the damage, physical and emotional wrought by the storm. This piece won a Michigan Association of Broadcasters Broadcast Excellence Award.
Fifty years after Apollo 11 first brought back lunar samples, researchers at the University of Notre Dame are still using Moon rocks brought back by the Apollo missions for scientific research.
Karl Cronberger shows a thin section of Moon rock on a microscope slide in a lab at Notre Dame.
Michiana experienced historic flooding. I actively covered the story for seven days and continue to follow as clean-up, recovery and the future of local impacts of climate change.
Most of that coverage can be found here, linked together.
I also turned six spots for use on NPR's newscasts.
Above: The bridge where Jefferson Boulevard crosses the St. Joseph River in South Bend sits just above the waterline on Thursday, February 22, 2018.
Right: Elkhart resident Jeff Michael looks down 5th Street at the houses that are still inaccessible and standing in water on Saturday, February 24, 2018.
Arts, History and Soft Features
South Bend Civic Produces In The Heights
The South Bend Civic Theatre produced Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical In The Heights in March 2018. They made inroads into the local Latinx community to make sure they were telling the story in a genuine way. The reaction from the community has lead them to consider other shows that showcase different groups in the community. I followed the story from when they announced auditions. This story won first place, division C for Arts Feature 2018 at PRNDI.
Cast members of the South Bend Civic Theatre rehearse for opening night of In The Heights.
Re-Entry Center Inmates Write and Stage 'Heartless'
Five men from the South Bend Community Re-entry Center were on work release building sets for the South Bend Civic Theatre when one of them had the idea to turn a short story he'd written into a play. The play weaves a story of a child born without a heart and the men's personal stories of incarceration. They stage it regularly and are working to bring it to schools in an effort to keep youth out of prison.
Bobby Kennedy Visits Northern Indiana in 1968
Bobby Kennedy was in Northern Indiana several times during his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president in 1968. Including one visit during a unique Polish feast day and political rally in South Bend called Dyngus Day.
Robert Kennedy speaks at the Stepan Center at the University of Notre Dame on April 4, 1968. PC: University of Notre Dame Archives
Feature on Letter Writing for Morning Edition
Deb Brazewski writes around 60 letters every week. She's one of those rare people who still writes letters. Another group of people that still does is the Letter for Better Club at Central Michigan University. This was the first story I filed for NPR as a Sophomore in College.
Social Issues, Memorials, Miscellaneous
Local Mourning of the Events at Tree of Life Synagogue
With the comprehensive coverage from NPR after events like the shooting in Pittsburgh, there's little a local reporter can add. So I got out of the way and let the local voices tell the story largely by themselves. This story is best listened to.
Rabbi Karen Companez reads the names of a victim while South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg lights a candle at a prayer vigil for the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting victims at the University of Notre Dame on October 30, 2018.
Remembrance For A Younger Generation
Seventeen years after 9/11/2001 a whole generation of Americans has little to no living memory of the event. A feature story exploring that, through the lens of three commemoration events in Northern Indiana. This story was reported, written, produced, and aired between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
A student places a flag on the South Quad at the University of Notre Dame in remembrance of the victims of the September 11th attacks.
Honors Capstone Project
Transgender people face a lot of problems that other people don't face. Through their voices, listeners can be educated, and entertained. This project allowed me to learn about the lives and issues people who are transgender face. It also gave me the chance to try my hand at producing pieces that were longer than most of the pieces I have produced.
This project won the Robert Newby Award for student diversity efforts.