Reflecting on Next Generation Radio Boot Camp

By Jacob Solis

It’s always an exciting thing, to be accepted. When I got the email from program coordinator Doug Mitchell that I had been accepted into Reno’s 2017 NPR Next Generation boot camp — something I had been hoping to do since I arrived in Reno three years ago — I was ecstatic.

That excitement never really diminished, but to be sure, the project challenged me from the start. First, there was the story itself. The prompt was “first days in America,” and it threw me for a loop. I had no contact who immediately fit the bill, thus, the cold calling began.

At one point I was juggling about six very promising leads, but, because luck was on my side, they all managed to fall through for one reason or another. Ultimately, I set my sights on Manuel, a man who came to America when he crossed the border at just 11 years old.

His story had interested me from the start, and I’m glad I was able to tell it. And more than that, throughout all the challenges this project provided (and there were many), I’m enormously grateful that I had this opportunity in the first place.

For instance, the interview process itself was smooth, if not taxing. Manuel was telling us his story along with his 83-year-old father. As the interview continued to drag on as we pressed for more and more details, the wear on his father became more and more apparent.

Even so, we needed their story and we needed them to tell it in a way that resonated with others. Thus, despite the fatigue of everyone in the room, we all pressed on. More than that, Manuel and his family were incredibly accommodating, and if it were not for their hospitality, this story, in the form it exists now, couldn’t exist.

Interviews aside, you can learn more here in a week than you’ll learn in a full semester of class. I know I did.

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