BABE #283: LINDSEY KILBRIDE - Special Projects Producer, WJCT Public Media
Lindsey is the special projects producer at WJCT Public Media, a recently created role because, like a true BWH, she worked very hard and made her voice (and aspirations) heard. Before her current role (which focuses primarily on creating podcasts,) she spent four years as a daily news reporter, predominantly covering education and local government. Whether writing captivating articles or producing thought-provoking podcasts, Lindsey always strives to be accurate, thorough and compelling. We’re lucky to have such a dedicated, thoughtful woman in our local newsroom and look forward to the next “What it’s Like” episode — produced and hosted by this babe herself.
Hometown: Middleburg/Jacksonville, Florida
Current city: Jacksonville, Florida
Alma mater: University of North Florida; Salt Institute for Documentary Studies
Degree: B.S., Multimedia Journalism
Very first job: Sales Associate, American Eagle Outfitters
Hustle: Special Projects Producer, WJCT Public Media
Babe you admire and why?
Kathleen Hanna. Not only has she created some of my favorite music (e.g. Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, Julie Ruin, etc.) she sparked important conversations about sexual harassment, rape and female empowerment through her music and involvement in the 1990s Riot Grrrl movement.
Go-to coffee order and/or adult beverage?
I drink a cup of black Bold Bean coffee every morning. My go-to cocktail will always be the Dusty Boot at Black Sheep. [Founder’s note: a BWH after my own heart.]
Current power anthem?
The oldie but goodie, M.I.A’s “Bad Girls.”
What’s something you want to learn or master?
If I went on the MTV show “Made,” it would be to learn roller derby. It’s so cool!
What’s something most don’t know about you?
My dream is to be on “The Price Is Right.”
Tell us about your hustle.
As WJCT’s special projects producer, I’m primarily responsible for creating podcasts. That means I think them up, report and research, write scripts, host, produce, score them with music and mix them. Special projects producer is a new position at the station. My first project in this new role was launching the “What It’s Like” storytelling podcast, and I’m currently working on a serialized mystery story told over multiple podcast episodes. In the future I’ll likely produce podcasts I don’t also host, but will be responsible for pretty much everything else. I transitioned to this role after being a WJCT news reporter for about four years.
What does your typical workday look like?
I now work on big projects, so the deadline pressure is a little different than when I was a daily news reporter. While I may not be covering late-night school board meetings anymore, I might sometimes work on weekends and extra-long hours close to a podcast release. My days are totally different depending on the stage of the podcast. Sometimes I’m interviewing and logging tape. Sometimes I’m storyboarding. I also use some of my time learning ways other NPR member stations have been successful in marketing podcasts. It’s my job to be an expert in all areas of podcasting.
Have you always had a passion for storytelling?
My dad always told me stories. As a kid I was really afraid at night (I 100 percent blame “Unsolved Mysteries”) and I’d frequently ask my dad to tell me stories from his childhood to help me get to sleep. He told me real stories about his dad leaving his family, about growing up extremely poor, about the trip he took his mother on before she died of cancer. I just wanted to know more. In a way, it was kind of like listening to a live podcast and I was conducting the interview. Ever since, I’ve loved storytelling and documentaries. I think that’s where it all started.
How do you strive for accuracy and honesty while producing news?
This is something I’m always thinking about. It’s of course a mixture of reporting the facts (I love using data) and presenting different perspectives. Humanizing different points of view is always a good thing. But that gets complicated with topics like sea-level rise and vaccinations. People sometimes try so hard to present all sides of a story they fall into false equivalence territory. It’s not ethical to report scientifically debunked claims as an equal counterargument just because a source believes it anyway. Sometimes the way to tackle this is with a “truth sandwich,” starting with facts, laying out a contradictory argument, but still ending with facts. It’s also important to be transparent with your sources. If data contradicts someone’s argument, I always make sure the interviewee is aware. When you report on controversial topics (for me that’s been a lot of education legislation and some LGBT issues) you’re always going to face criticism. Yes, I’ve had phone calls and emails calling me biased. I always start by inviting a conversation and considering their criticism. The types of quotes a reporter chooses to use or which point of view they end on can make the story feel slanted. I normally run the criticism by my editor and we’ll decide if a correction or clarification is warranted. But, most often, I’ve already thoroughly thought out making the story as factual and balanced as possible.
How have your past professional and academic experiences prepared you for the work you do today?
As true in lots of industries, nothing can prepare an aspiring reporter/producer more than experience doing it. My internships both at WJCT and the Florida Times-Union were huge assets in landing me a job. My journalism mentor at UNF, Paula Horvath, encouraged me to seek them out and sponsored both of my independent studies doing real-world journalism outside of my one required internship. Before entering journalism I worked in retail for about six years, ending with a keyholder management role. Because of this experience I’m a leader, people-person, problem-solver and extremely organized, which are all essential for being a great journalist. At the time I went to UNF there was an emphasis on print and TV, but not radio or podcasting. I ended up attending a radio documentary program in Maine after receiving my bachelor’s degree at UNF.
What’s been your biggest career milestone?
I have two: one was launching the “What It’s Like” podcast and essentially starting a new podcasting department. My goal since entering the journalism field has been to make podcasts. The other was winning the Florida Associated Press Broadcasters Award: Best 2018 Florida Radio Reporter, working in a large market. The recognition was a huge honor.
How has being a woman affected your professional experience?
This is tricky. I’m lucky to work under a brilliant female boss and have been mentored by amazing women in journalism (shoutout to Paula Horvath and Karen Feagins). Although I’ve occasionally encountered a sexist remark from a public official or complaint about my voice, WJCT has always completely backed me up and I don’t personally feel like being a woman has hindered my career (or helped it). However, early in my career I definitely felt I needed to prove myself because I was a young female reporting on the city budget and complicated education legislation. I lost a lot of sleep worrying about whether I’d covered every angle sufficiently or how people would react to a controversial topic. Most of this self-inflicted stress was completely unnecessary. Jacksonville is lucky to have a lot of women leading newsrooms and I think that’s a positive step in creating more space for women in journalism.
What’s the gender ratio like in your industry? Do you see it evolving?
According to Pew research released in 2018, around 60 percent of U.S. newsroom employees are male. NPR is doing better with about 57 percent of its newsroom employees being female. However, 72 percent of NPR newsrooms are white. And despite NPR acknowledging the gaps are a problem, they haven’t closed them much since NPR started publicly documenting the data in 2012. NPR newsroom leadership is more diverse with 40 percent of them being people of color. I don’t have data for all the member stations like the one for which I work or podcasts in general. However, I love that “Serial,” which many saw as the first mainstream podcast, was hosted and reported by a woman. I listen to a lot of podcasts produced and reported by women. While I see these areas evolving and being talked about, I don’t think adequate representation is there yet—or even close, really.
What are some common misconceptions about your job?
People think I work with a big production staff. But currently (and previously as a daily news reporter), it’s largely a one-person band—me. I’m the sound engineer, script writer, story-idea-haver and producer. The one area I have help with is editing by my badass boss Jessica Palombo.
Who are some women in your field you look to for inspiration?
Madeleine Baran, host and reporter for the “In the Dark” podcast. Kelly McEvers, host for NPR’s “All Things Considered” and the “Embedded” podcast. Kaitlin Prest, host and brains behind “The Heart” and “The Shadows” podcasts.
What does your approach to work-life balance look like? How do you unplug and unwind?
I practice two unwinding extremes: (1) YMCA Bodycombat class, running, hiking or swimming in a spring. (2) Super-lazy day = face mask + Netflix + Mayday Ice Cream + Bite Squad
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
If you have a good idea, don’t be afraid to speak up. That’s how I got my job and that’s why I now get to make podcasts.
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