Storytelling Through Audio: Meghana Kakubal

Storytelling Through Audio: Meghana Kakubal

Meghana Kakubal is a college student and audio storyteller from Washington state.


5 - 12+


Professional Learning, Storytelling

Developed in partnership with
Adobe 6

Meghana became interested in radio journalism through her school radio station and through the RadioActive program at her local public radio station KUOW in Seattle, Washington, United States. You can hear more of Meghana’s stories on the KUOW (NPR) Station website.

This video was developed in partnership with Adobe, as part of a series of courses called Storytelling for Impact.

Transcript (English)

- Most of the time when you're listening to audio stories, it's going to be either in your earbuds or in the car. That's a very close, intimate space, to live in someone's experience, to think how they would think, re-evaluate something that you've held for so long. That intimacy allows for a greater empathy, and empathy is really what can make a difference. My name is Meghana Kakubal and I'm an audio storyteller. I think since I was very little, I was very addicted to books. I'd come home from elementary school every day with at least two or three new books in my backpack. I found stories to be a kind of escape. Whatever was happening in the real world, whatever news, current events, whatever homework I had to deal with, I could always depend on these books and these stories to be an escape.

- My dad would always have NPR in the car, and the stories that were being told were real life, and yet they were just as engaging as the fiction I was reading, and so I think that's where I realized stories are happening in the real world, and nonfiction stories are just as powerful as what I was finding in story storybooks. Once I got to high school, once I turned 15, I found that in my high school there was a radio broadcasting class, so I signed up for that as well and found opportunity to tell stories. Hi, good. How are you?

- [Joe] Yeah, not much has changed around here since, everything has changed since you not having to juggle and fight people in the hallway, 1,500 kids.

- The Marissa Allen High School radio program, it started as just simple music and high school sports, but a couple years before I got to the high school, they hired a new teacher, Joe Bryant. He was a radio personality. They call him Downtown Joe in Seattle. Apparently he's really famous. My health teacher in high school. She was like, "Do you know how famous your teacher is?" I didn't know that.

- [Joe] We rebranded the station. It used to be Hot Jams. It's funny.

- It's been rebranded. It's called 88.9, The Bridge. A lot of it previously had been teacher directed, but now all of a sudden it was, "Hey, you have this platform. Now do what you want with it." All of a sudden, students could create their own talk shows and talk about cats, if that's what interested them, and they could read books on the air or sports broadcast. I experimented with every week putting together this kind of John Oliver type deep dive into anything that interested me.

- [Chip] Seafair was a little more important to me than Christmas.

- That's Chip Hanauer, and for those of you who haven't heard of him, he's the third most successful hydroplane racer in history, and best of all, he's from Seattle. I think that opportunity to experiment kind of facilitated the interest I already had, and so I was learning about the platform. I was learning about how to record. I was learning about mic and sound levels and exporting and editing, but at the same time, I was learning about what really interested me and doing what interested me. One of my first stories was actually about a student who had come newly to our high school, and he was a refugee from Myanmar.

- [Joe] We're sitting in class and I've assigned everybody to do an interview. Everybody sitting in this room, has a great story to tell. I pointed to a student, Mohamed. He came here under really tough circumstances, and I said, "Anybody wants to interview Mohamed?" And then lo and behold, Meghana does this just wonderful podcast. Not only does it win a state radio award, but it's played nationally on NPR.

- After the story had been published, another family on Mercer Island decided to adopt a Rohingya refugee, because they listened to the story and that kind of encapsulates what the power of an audio story can be and what I really would like it to do, to spark empathy that allows for change.

- Hi, Meghana! Nice hoodie!

- I love it too.

- I was accepted into the KUOW program. They're part of a local NPR station, right? They know what they're doing when it comes to non-fiction audio storytelling, and so it was very structured in that they gave us very clear guidelines, specifically, for news station, radio, broadcasting that I had never considered before. The RadioActive Podcast is basically the output of the RadioActive program, so each summer, brand-new students will create a feature story about a specific individual. RadioActive has been going on for at least 10 plus years, and there's been more and more graduates of the program who you see now in the industry, in journalism, and you also get to become a mentor for the younger inductees. There's a lot of youth teaching youth that provides super powerful stories.

- Hi, Lila!

- Hey, Meghana! Oh my gosh, it's so good to see you! It's been a while.

- It's been a very long-

- How are you?

- I'm good. How are you?

- Lila Kitaeff, they were really instrumental in figuring out exactly what needed to be taught to the youth. For me, at least before coming into the RadioActive Program, what I struggled with was doubting myself and the validity of my passions, my curiosities.

- I mean, that is what we try to do at RadioActive, so it makes, it makes me feel like kind of emotional to hear you say that that's something that you were feeling before you came in. So many people are told for so much of their lives that their voice does not matter, that their perspective does not matter. RadioActive is this space where you are told, "We wanna hear you, we wanna listen to you."

- A lot of people I know will hate the sound of their own voice. Even when I say, "Can I interview you?" They'll be saying, "Wait, no, it's gonna sound so bad. You don't wanna do that. You don't wanna do that." But I'll say, "No, it sounds like who you are, your voice, whatever distinct methods and mannerisms you speak with, it makes you you." It is meaningful. Someone else is definitely going to need to hear that and want to hear it. This is Meghana Kakubal, class of 2020 from MAHS. Thank you for listening to KMIH 88.9, The Bridge.

Transcripción (Español)

- La mayoría de las veces cuando escuchas historias en audio, será o en tus auriculares o en el auto. Ese es un espacio muy cercano e íntimo, vivir en la experiencia de alguien, pensar cómo pensarían ellos, reevaluar algo que has sostenido durante tanto tiempo. Esa intimidad permite una mayor empatía, y la empatía es realmente lo que puede marcar la diferencia. Mi nombre es Meghana Kakubal y soy narradora de audio. Creo que desde que era muy pequeña, estaba muy enganchada a los libros. Llegaba a casa de la escuela primaria todos los días con al menos dos o tres libros nuevos en mi mochila. Encontraba las historias como una especie de escape. Lo que estaba pasando en el mundo real, cualquier noticia, eventos actuales, cualquier tarea que tuviera que enfrentar, siempre podía depender de estos libros y estas historias para escapar.

- Mi papá siempre tenía NPR en el auto, y las historias que se contaban eran de la vida real, y sin embargo, eran igual de cautivadoras que la ficción que estaba leyendo, y así es como comprendí que las historias están ocurriendo en el mundo real, y las historias no ficticias son tan poderosas como lo que encontraba en los libros de cuentos. Una vez que llegué a la secundaria, una vez que cumplí 15 años, descubrí que en mi escuela secundaria había una clase de radiodifusión, así que también me inscribí en eso y encontré la oportunidad de contar historias. Hola, bien. ¿Cómo estás?

- [Joe] Sí, no ha cambiado mucho por aquí desde entonces, todo ha cambiado desde que no tienes que luchar y pelear en los pasillos, 1500 chicos.

- El programa de radio del instituto Marissa Allen, comenzó como música simple y deportes de la secundaria, pero un par de años antes de que llegara a la secundaria, contrataron a un nuevo maestro, Joe Bryant. Era una personalidad de la radio. Lo llaman Downtown Joe en Seattle. Al parecer es muy famoso. Mi profesora de salud en la escuela secundaria. Me dijo: "¿Sabes lo famoso que es tu profesor?" No lo sabía.

- [Joe] Renombramos la estación. Solía ser Hot Jams. Es gracioso.

- Ha sido renombrada. Se llama 88.9, The Bridge. Gran parte anteriormente había sido dirigida por los profesores, pero de repente era, "Oye, tienes esta plataforma. Ahora haz lo que quieras con ella". De repente, los estudiantes podían crear sus propios programas de entrevistas y hablar sobre gatos, si eso es lo que les interesaba, y podían leer libros en directo o retransmitir deportes. Experimenté cada semana con la creación de este tipo de análisis profundo al estilo de John Oliver sobre cualquier cosa que me interesara.

- [Chip] Seafair era un poco más importante para mí que la Navidad.

- Él es Chip Hanauer, y para aquellos de ustedes que no lo han escuchado, es el tercer piloto de hidroaviones más exitoso de la historia, y lo mejor de todo, es de Seattle. Creo que esa oportunidad de experimentar facilitó el interés que ya tenía, y así estaba aprendiendo sobre la plataforma. Estaba aprendiendo sobre cómo grabar. Estaba aprendiendo sobre niveles de micrófono y sonido y exportación y edición, pero al mismo tiempo, estaba aprendiendo sobre lo que realmente me interesaba y haciendo lo que me interesaba. Una de mis primeras historias fue sobre un estudiante que había llegado recientemente a nuestra secundaria, y era un refugiado de Myanmar.

- [Joe] Estamos en clase y le he asignado a todos hacer una entrevista. Todos los que están sentados en esta aula tienen una gran historia que contar. Señalé a un estudiante, Mohamed. Vino aquí en circunstancias muy difíciles, y dije: "¿Alguien quiere entrevistar a Mohamed?" Y luego, para sorpresa de todos, Meghana hace este maravilloso podcast. No solo gana un premio estatal de radio, sino que se reproduce a nivel nacional en NPR.

- Después de que la historia se publicó, otra familia en Mercer Island decidió adoptar a un refugiado rohingya, porque escucharon la historia y eso encapsula lo que el poder de una historia de audio puede tener y lo que realmente me gustaría que hiciera, despertar empatía que permita el cambio.

- Hola, ¡Meghana! ¡Linda sudadera!

- A mí también me encanta.

- Fui aceptada en el programa de KUOW. Son parte de una estación de NPR local, ¿verdad? Saben lo que están haciendo cuando se trata de narrativa de audio no ficticia, así que era muy estructurado, nos daban pautas muy claras, específicamente, para estación de noticias, radio, radiodifusión que nunca había considerado antes. El Podcast RadioActive es básicamente el resultado del programa RadioActive, así que cada verano, estudiantes completamente nuevos crearán una historia destacada sobre una persona específica. RadioActive ha estado funcionando durante al menos 10 años o más, y ha habido más y más graduados del programa que se ven ahora en la industria, en el periodismo, y también llegas a ser mentor de los nuevos integrantes más jóvenes. Hay muchos jóvenes enseñando a otros jóvenes lo que brinda historias sumamente poderosas.

- ¡Hola, Lila!

- ¡Hola, Meghana! ¡Dios mío, qué bueno verte! Ha pasado mucho tiempo.

- Ha sido bastante...

- ¿Cómo estás?

- Estoy bien. ¿Y tú?

- Lila Kitaeff, fue realmente fundamental para descubrir exactamente lo que había que enseñar a los jóvenes. Para mí, al menos antes de entrar en el Programa RadioActive, lo que luchaba era con dudar de mí misma y la validez de mis pasiones, mis curiosidades.

- Eso es lo que intentamos hacer en RadioActive, así que me hace, me hace sentir un poco emocional escucharte decir que eso es algo que sentías antes de entrar. A muchas personas se les dice durante tanto tiempo que su voz no importa, que su perspectiva no importa. RadioActive es este espacio donde se te dice: "Queremos escucharte, queremos oírte".

- Mucha gente que conozco odia el sonido de su propia voz. Incluso cuando digo: "¿Puedo entrevistarte?" Dirán: "Espera, no, va a sonar muy mal. No quieres hacerlo. No quieres hacerlo". Pero diré, "No, suena como quien eres, tu voz, cualquier método distintivo y manierismos con los que hablas, te hacen ser tú". Es significativo. Alguien más definitivamente va a necesitar escuchar eso y querer escucharlo. Soy Meghana Kakubal, promoción 2020 de MAHS. Gracias por escuchar KMIH 88.9, The Bridge.

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Last Updated

April 8, 2024

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