New fellowships pair independent producers with coaches for entrepreneurial training

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A new fellowship program from the Association of Independents in Radio pairs a dozen content creators with coaches in an incubator-style approach to training.

The program, an extension of AIR’s long-running mentorship program, aims to boost the participants’ entrepreneurial skills, said Sue Schardt, executive director of AIR. “What we were looking for is people who have very clear goals for what they’re trying to achieve,” she said. “These are people with their chops in place and [who] are ready to launch in a new direction in their career or take on a new venture.”

AIR received about 36 applications and selected 12 from those. The certified professional coaches are Tom Livingston, Jackie Bsharah, Richard Gibson and Mark Sachs. Each coach will work with three producers on skills like negotiation, team management and planning professional enterprises.

The fellowship recipients are:

  • Lucia Duncan, who directs ZUMIX Radio in East Boston;
  • Daniel Estrin, a journalist based in the Middle East who has reported for the Associated Press and PRI’s The World;
  • Dan Grossman, a print and radio journalist who is a contributing editor to National Geographic News Watch;
  • Ruxandra Guidi, a journalist with more than 12 years of experience working in public radio and magazines;
  • Noelle Hanrahan, investigative journalist and director of Prison Radio;
  • Megan Kamerick, independent radio producer and producer at New Mexico PBS;
  • Sabiha Khan, multimedia documentary producer and educator at the University of Texas at El Paso;
  • Jess Mador, a journalist and radio producer whose work has aired on NPR and American Public Media;
  • Luis Perez, a radio host and producer with Vocalo in Chicago;
  • Sarah Richards, a Baltimore-based journalist whose stories have appeared in The Economist and the New York Times and on CNN;
  • Joe Richman, founder of Radio Diaries; and
  • Melissa Townsend, producer of Minnesota Native News.

The fellowship, at a cost of $600 per coach, is covered primarily by a National Endowment for the Arts grant in addition to other foundation funding. The program will run for three months and concludes April 8.

“We set them up, give them a framework and push them off, like an incubator,” Schardt said. “Public media needs new, diverse talent, and we’re subsidizing this as a launch pad to help with that.”