Listeners of Asheville FM rely on the News Hour on Thursdays at 7 p.m. and La Radio, on Mondays from 6–7 p.m, for up-to-date information on what’s happening in the world. These citizen reporters—all volunteers—find local stories and bring them to the spotlight. This is community radio at its best.
Emma Hutchens, co-director of News and Community Affairs with Victor Palomino, says, “Like everyone at Asheville FM, we’re all volunteers. It takes so much time and skill to report on current events and get finished segments live on the news before they aren’t ‘news’ anymore. All of us have day jobs and most of us aren’t journalists or sound producers in the other parts of our lives, so it takes a lot to produce the show every week—but we do!”
Members of the news team are Victor Palomino, Emma Hutchens, Scott Owen, TJ Amos, Trevon Dunn, Gerry Leonard, Andrew Rainey, Rachel Herman, Keith Fletcher, Andrew Vasco, Alex Heisey, Zachary Newman, Liam Nilsen, Peter Kent and Doug Klesch.
Primarily in Spanish, La Radio (hosted by Victor) highlights current events pertaining to black and brown communities in Asheville, combining interviews, commentary, discussion, and music.
Themes of Focus
In a recent strategic planning meeting, the team agreed on some larger themes to focus on:
1) Social justice
2) Highlighting diverse voices from the community: They want to hear from people who live in Asheville and the surrounding areas about what they think and feel and what affects their lives.
3) The intersection of arts and politics
4) Local politics and issues: They report on City Council meetings and county commissioner meetings, interview local candidates for office, and also cover issues including local schools, streets, parks and infrastructure, and natural places
5) Highlighting resources that are available to the community and ways for people to get involved with local issues. They talk to a lot of local nonprofits and local businesses.
While national and international stories are mentioned briefly at the beginning of the show (termed “headlines”), all stories and interviews are based in the community.
Regular segments include the Wild Gardener with Peter Loewer, and CalCast from the Mountain Xpress, which covers upcoming events for the weekend. Last year, they hosted a “Know Your Rights” series with Pisgah Legal Services, and a seasonal health segment with the Department of Public Health and Human Services.
“We cover some events if they fall within one of our larger themes; politics, social justice, community resources, etc.,” says Emma, adding, “We got a chance to interview members of Pussy Riot. That was amazing. And it’s been awesome hearing voices from the local women’s march as well as the D.C. march.”
Keeping it Fresh
The News Team spends hours putting together stories. They reach out to local folks for interviews about something going on. If it’s an event, the team may record live. Recorders are used to collect audio. The recording is edited to be the right length, background noise is removed, and the clips is generally cleaned up.
“Every story is different,” says Emma. “Sometimes, I email someone that I want to interview, they show up, I talk to them for 15 minutes and then take 15 minutes to edit that interview. Sometimes we play nearly raw footage from a meeting or an event that is breaking news when we don’t have time between the thing happening and the show airing. Other stories, like the Women’s March, involve multiple news team correspondents going to an event or meeting (or more than one related events), collecting community voices and statements, background noise, like music or chanting, and then writing a report describing what happened and editing all of that together. Those segments can take 5-10 hours of work. The previous format of the City Council report took that long."
Featured segments from a recent week include Kim Roney announces her candidacy for Asheville City Council; Dr. Dwight Mullen on the state of black Asheville and the state of the world; and Voices from the Asheville Women’s March.
A couple of people write brief synopses of national and international events (the news team calls these “headlines”) every week. The team meets up at the studio on Thursday night for the live show to read the headlines and play the prerecorded segments. If timed right, it comes out to be exactly an hour.
Get in Touch!
The best way for listeners to get in touch with members of the news team is by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. All shows are run by volunteers. If you’re interested in contributing your skills, please email our volunteer coordinator at email@example.com.