Behind the Sound: Adwoa Gyimah-Brempong
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Welcome to Behind the Sound, an interview series with the folks who make Making Contact. This month we interviewed Adwoa Gyimah-Brempong, a freelance reporter, producer, and Making Contact’s sound editor.
How did you get into this line of work?
I got into audio while I was getting an MFA in Creative Writing. I’d been a writer and editor for most of my life, and grew up on NPR (my parents are not native English speakers, so when they moved to the U.S. they got in the habit of listening). When I started working as a reporter and producer, something about the medium just clicked. I do still produce and report but moved into editing two years ago, and that’s felt like coming home.
How do you describe your role to folks who have never worked in radio?
Most people have at least a vague idea of what an editor does, from print publication. But most people I know are also very surprised by just how much work it takes behind the scenes to produce an audio story. I like reminding them of all the things they might not notice (like ambient sound) and all the things we filter out before they hear something (like mouth noises )
Tell us how working in audio affects how you take in the world.
First of all, I’m much more attuned to interesting or unusual voices! I also am a former English language instructor in the process of learning a new language (Portuguese) and not-infrequently voicing stories. So I think a lot about my own vocal patterns and how they help or inhibit communication.
“I’m thrilled to come back to news with a team of folks who center community and agency, and aren’t afraid of nuanced, messy stories.”
Could you share a recent piece you worked on that you’re particularly excited about and tell us why it’s exciting?
I just finished editing an ambitious documentary about Eunice Carter, the first African-American prosecutor in New York. She built the case that put mobster Lucky Luciano away. It’s such a fascinating story to me because Eunice isn’t entirely a hero – the case she made rested on the kind of prosecutorial overreach that still haunts the US criminal legal system. But it felt important to look at an overlooked Black woman and not require her to be perfect, or even likable, to find her story worth telling.
What do you want Making Contact listeners and supporters to know about you and the show?
I left mainstream journalism a few years ago because I was exhausted by both-sides-ism, false objectivity, and the skepticism around who gets to be an expert on their own lives. I’m thrilled to come back to news with a team of folks who center community and agency, and aren’t afraid of nuanced, messy stories.
If you were to choose a totally different career, what would it be and why?
I’ve already had several careers, it feels like! One of them was as a massage therapist, which is work I loved and am excited to start again in the new year. But if I were to go in a completely different direction, I’d go with data science! Although the primary reason I like data visualizations is for the stories they can tell, so maybe I just can’t get too far away.