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Go behind the scenes...

Updated: Apr 5

I'm the journalist behind the Blue Horizon Texas podcast... so you might recognize my name and, if you've been tuning into to the Blue Horizon podcast series, you'd definitely recognize my voice.

Podcasting for Blue Horizon Texas has been an absolute joy. I'd love to share a bit about my journey into audio production and storytelling.


I have wanted to be an audio journalist for many years. Blue Horizon Texas has given me an outlet for this passion. I started learning this craft as a community scholar and fellow. I applied to and was selected by Texas Folklife for a Community Folklife Fellowship and by AIR Media for their New Voices Fellowship. Both were six-month programs.

 

I learned about folklife, storytelling, field recording, interviewing, scriptwriting, digital audio workstations, ethics, and audio editing. My mentors are folklorists, journalists, archivists, ethnographers and audio engineers.


One of my mentors was the late Maria Martin of Latino USA. I also attended a six-week training with a progressive grassroots media organization. I came onboard with Blue Horizon Texas in the summer of 2022. I began as a Community Engagement Specialist for Black Candidates. As I began to meet the community and hear their stories and experiences, I had the urge to share them.

 

It was the specific conversation with Coach Cam Campbell and the threat on his life that made me want to interview him. I wanted people to better understand the risks and courage involved in running for office. So, we recorded our first Blue Horizon podcast episode (you can listen to it, here). 


And we didn't stop there. In my first season, we produced and released four podcast episodes, capturing my conversations with four Blue Horizon candidates. I soon realized that with each interview, I learned more about the process of running for office and specific kinds of offices.


My process for media production is simple, but time consuming. I start by learning as much as I can about candidates from staff meetings, social media, and through our community network. Once a candidate is selected, I arrange for two meeting times. The first conversation is a self-introduction and getting to know the personality, interests, and intent of a candidate. In the second meeting, we record the interview.

 

The interviews are virtual, and I try to keep the interview under an hour. The interview is edited down to 15-25 minutes. All the music you hear is original, composed and played by me.  My goal is to capture the essence of each person I interview. I also want each person to feel comfortable with the information they have shared. We listen to the final edits together and they sign off on them before their release.   


In its now second season, we've already released three new episodes of the Blue Horizon Podcast and have two interviews in the editing process. I look forward to meeting new people who want to improve local rural communities and the state of Texas.


I know it takes courage and trust to do interviews, and I want to honor each voice that agrees to do so. I am grateful for this opportunity to be the podcast producer at Blue Horizon Texas. If you want to support this part of our programming, we do need your financial help. Our podcast technology needs to be upgraded and without additional investment, we're not sure how much longer we can keep recording. 

 


— Tonya Lyles, Blue Horizon Texas


Program Director and Podcast Producer

I've put together a "wish list" — technically, it's not so much a "wish list" as a "our organization desperately needs this list" — and it'll take an additional $11,000 to keep our podcast series going. Upgrades will include a macbook pro, audio engineering classes, a professional field recorder and microphone, SD cards, rechargeable batteries & chargers, digital audio workstation license, studio mic screens, and 16 terabit external memory drives. With your help, our interviews will be even more enjoyable and memorable!

 

>> Chip in now and help support our candidate interviews.

 

I hope you'll consider investing in our podcast program. I've seen firsthand how powerful our shared stories can be, and Texas needs this. 


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