The CSUSB Coyote Radio program “My Awesome Empire” was recognized by the 2018 Intercollegiate Broadcasting System College Awards. Though the team is taking a break on production, they are pleased to accept the recognition. For six seasons they interviewed business owners and people with interesting stories of the Inland Empire.
The team consists of CSUSB student producers, interviewers, writers, editors and journalists from the undergraduate and masters program. “My Awesome Empire” was launched by Lacey Kendall in 2012 to give students the reward of talking to people and at the same time find out what inspires them.
This radio program aimed to promote the amazing stories of local people in the Inland Empire, whether they owned a business or did something awesome in the community. In the five years of production, stories ranged from thriving candy shops to CSUSB teachers on a mission to help their students succeed.
Not only did the stores vary in topic, but also the students who made up the “My Awesome Empire” team. Students came from different backgrounds such as business, marketing, broadcasting and audio production to get a hands on experience on a show that aired in eight different Southern California radio stations.
Recognizing excellence is recognizing the hard work contributed by the “My Awesome Empire” team. Editing a 30-minute radio program comes with dedication and care. As the team put away the microphones and field recorders, I was able to get the opportunity to contact Chief Production Engineer and long-time contributor, Arnold Robles, and look back on his time at “My Awesome Empire”.
Arnold first joined the “My Awesome Empire” team in 2014, in his Junior year at CSUSB. His duties as Chief Engineer included setting up, recording, and engineering live interviews, to mixing, mastering, and putting together the full 30-minute segment to send out to all the radio stations that carried the program. He was also in charge of training and overseeing the interns and volunteers. That is how I met Arnold at Coyote Radio. I was volunteering with Lacey Kendall and was an assistant production engineer during Fall 2017.
In the typical one to two days, Arnold averaged about 20 hours of production work and sometimes ran into overflow of great content that was hard to cut out but needed to because of time restrictions. “The whole show is 30 minutes long, and I would often find myself 5 or 10 minutes over just with the interviews themselves, not counting voice tracks, commercials, or music. You can’t just cut it all out at once, so I would have to spend hours shaving off a few seconds here, maybe 30 seconds over there. Each episode really grew on me, it was my baby. Having to cut it down really hurt. Like, maybe I really like my kid’s hair, why do they have to be bald?”
Being part of the sixth season of “My Awesome Empire,” I can testify that the work that is put into editing the interviews is a patient and time worthy process. I recall a time that we had to edit an interview that was recorded outdoors and had excessive background noise. When the interviewee needed to repeat something to be re-recorded, editing those sections were the hardest to do. I remember doing the most trying to get the interview sounding clear and natural.
Arnold spent the rest of the night editing the interview to have it done by the following day. That following Saturday came, and I recall sitting in my car at 4 PM during my lunch at work tuning in to 91.9 FM to listen to the final product. The final show came out amazing, I texted Arnold instantly and gave him his kudos on a remarkable job done. To have the opportunity to have hands on work on an award winning show like “My Awesome Empire” and its team is a high-end experience for anyone.
Production nights like that session is an experience that Arnold will miss the most about the show. “Honestly, my favorite moments came after I would pull one of those hectic all nighters. There was something about walking out to an empty campus, hours after the last person has gone home, and breathing in the cold night air after having just spent 12 hours in a studio. That’s what I’m really going to miss the most”.
Arnold was really excited when he found out about the 4th year in a row nomination by the IBS. “It feels great to know that the work we put in is consistently ranked among the nation’s best year after year”.
With Lacey Kendall’s recent move to the CSUSB Palm Desert Campus, “My Awesome Empire” is taking a break for the time being. According to her recent interview with KVCR’s Lillian Vasquez, she hopes somebody “comes in and either picks that ball up and runs with it” and that she was working at the San Bernardino campus to find her replacement.
So while the new team assembles, anyone interested in checking out the award winning episodes should visit the “My Awesome Empire” website at myawesomeempire.com and stay tuned.