“I just kind of always knew that it was the job that I wanted. I was always reading and learning and asking annoying questions and researching anything that really struck my fancy. So when it was time to go and kind of pick a path in life, I fell into it fairly naturally.”

On this episode, we’re joined by Raegan Miller. Raegan is a reporter for KRBD, a radio station in Ketchikan, Alaska. She covers Alaska Native and rural issues as part of the Report for America program.

Raegan is often the news source in her area, so she needs to stay on top of every possible story, both locally, and with national stories that may have local ramifications.

Here are 3 things I learned from my interview with her. To listen to the whole interview, click here.

The importance of good ambient sound

One notable story Raegan has done was reporting on a totem pole carver and made sure to get sound of the actual carving.

“It’s usually one of the first things that I notice when I go somewhere for a story. Whatever jumps out to me is usually what I want to open my story with. And that sound of carving is something that’s very sentimental to people here, especially for local audiences.

They know what that sounds like. It can transport them to that particular place. And for audiences that aren’t as familiar, It’s just this really interesting opener that I think really sets up that, that sense of place early on in the story. So that’s something that I try to decide while I’m still on, on the scene and remember to go and point my microphone at it and get more than I need.

That’s something that my news director told me, uh, as soon as I started here. Get more sound than you think you’ll need. If you want to ask people to just sit in silence for a quick minute while you get some background sound. Make sure you do that because it’s going to be worth it.

And I think that story was the time that I learned that that was such good advice.”

Small town pressure

“Ketchikan is a small place. It’s bigger than a lot of the places in Alaska, but it’s still small by ‘down south’ standards. And I hear people talking about my reporting while I am reading at the library or at the grocery store.

And it really does hit me like, okay, wow. People are turning to me as the source. A lot of people can really prefer their local news. They don’t wanna go to the New York Times or the Associated Press, their local radio or their local paper and that can be a lot of pressure. I really don’t wanna get something wrong.

And they look to me to paint the whole picture. So that’s a huge reminder that I really need to do my job well.”

Curiosity in abundance

“I can’t go grocery shopping without seeing something that I think would make an interesting story.

But the job has been continuing to change my worldview. It’s given me more of a drive to dive deeper into things and to not accept what I might see as the truth on the surface.

And I feel a lot more comfortable asking questions than I might if I had not been a journalist. I feel a lot more comfortable just saying, heads up, this is gonna be a really weird question, but I really wanna know.

Report for America has made me look closer at stories and think who else could have told the story? What voice might not be here? So I find myself to be a lot more curious.”