August 18, 2017

Reporter Field Notes


‘Mi casa is not su casa’

By Dani Matias

If you know me at all, you know that even a butterfly creeps me out, let alone a critter. So to take on a story subject that dealt with snakes, rats and raccoons was surprising, to say the least.

I didn’t get to work out all week, but that’s OK because I sweat so much, it made up for missing the gym. Aside from running around different parts of Austin, I climbed up a ladder into a 130-degree attic, saw a roof-rat infestation and watched a coachwhip snake tangle itself to death in a net. What normally would send me running and screaming intrigued me this week.

I never understood why residents would want to save an animal that’s destroying their property. But after spending a day with Critter Ridder of Austin, I came to understand wanting to remove the nuisance in a friendly, non-toxic way. After all, it’s not the animals’ fault that we leave openings in our homes for them to enter through. These uninvited guests obviously don’t get the memo that “mi casa is not su casa.” Owner Mike Dillon taught me to have someone check out my future house before I get to complain about raccoons on my property.

There are some technical things I wish I would have done differently this week: Moved the mic closer during interviews, recorded less (I had 25 pages of audio log), checked my audio levels, and grabbed more ambient sound. I realized how important it is to use high-quality headphones; those white iPhone headphones aren’t going to cut it. Trust me, they won’t allow you to distinguish between noise and sound. Buy the right headphones. Editing was nothing short of a nightmare. I spent so long on Audition that my hand cramped up and was hard to move. I had to run over to the “toys” as project managing editor Traci Tong called them, and grab a Nerf ball for some quick therapy.

I can’t stress enough how thankful I am to have been paired with Jenny Moore as my mentor. When I was worried or stressed, she reminded me how good of a job I was doing and helped organize each of our days so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed or behind. It was easy to forget to eat, drink or take a break after long hours behind my laptop. Thankfully, Jenny was there to force me outside for some fresh air or even buy me a cold drink from Starbucks. She provided such good insight I will remember for future stories.

Though the days felt longer than expected, I’m sad that it’s now over. This may have been one of the most challenging weeks of my life, but it only further solidified my desire to work in radio. Thanks Next Gen Radio, for showing me what I am capable of doing in such a short amount of time.