KALX, the radio station at UC Berkeley.
Why does this matter to me?
For eight glorious months in 1988-1989, I worked the news room at KALX. One or two mornings and two evenings a week, I learned to report, write, engineer, and produce news broadcasts.
I will never forget my first story. I was assigned to write the kicker--the final story of the broadcast, after the sports guy tossed it back to the anchors. Often meant to be a humorous or lighthearted finish. The story was of a man who had been found in his apartment several weeks after dying there alone. Ha, ha! How lighthearted can you get! I wrote something that was probably 200 words, and the producer (I forget who it was, but she was awesome) took my paper, grabbed a red pen, and obliterated half the words.
At first I stood dumbfounded. Although I was an engineering major, I was a pretty good writer. I thought. Then I read the result, and it was so much better. I learned about omitting needless words that day. (You'll have noticed, no doubt, I don't edit blog posts with the same vigor.)
We got in the habit of bringing blank cassettes to the studio to tape our broadcasts. I held on to my dozen or so tapes for 20 years. Finally, last spring, I digitized them.
My crowning achievement was on May 25, 1989, shortly before graduation. I went into the news room (the station used to be on Bowditch) and found that I was the only one to show up. I pulled lots of wire copy, found a couple of carts from the previous night's show, and steeled myself to do it all myself. Then I heard there was an action going on in People's Park, just a few blocks from the studio. I grabbed a tape deck and ran down there, found someone to interview, asked a couple of questions, ran back to the studio, wrote a quick piece, and settled in to do the newscast.
It's quite a thing to produce, write, engineer, and anchor your own newscast. I think it turned out pretty good, all things considered. Especially given that I had only six months experience, two days a week.
Those were some awesome times. I forget most of the people I worked with but do remember the ones I worked most often and most closely with. Some went on to media careers, but most I think did not.
I learned as much about the craft of writing in those six months as I did from any creative writing class. And I took some creative writing classes from some famous authors, including one US Poet Laureate. There's nothing like a deadline and a 90-second time limit to teach you to get your message across succinctly.