May 24, 2012

WXXI news director hangs 300 feet in the air for "Audio Postcard"

Julie Philipp, news director at WXXI in Rochester, N.Y., got out from behind her desk last week — to dangle off the side of a downtown building for an "Audio Postcard."

The adventure was part of the local Boy Scout Council's 21 Stories for Scouts fundraising event. Participants collecting more than $1,000 get to rappel down 309 feet, or 21 stories, from the roof of the First Federal Building.

The council invites members of the media to participate the day before. "I thought it would be a unique way for WXXI News to highlight the commitment we’ve made to covering issues related to at-risk youth in our community," Philipp told Current."I first offered the opportunity to my newsroom staff members, but none of them seemed very eager to try." Philipp was up to the challenge, and fearless of heights, because she's also done indoor rock climbing, downhill skiing and mountain climbing.

Because this particular audio postcard would be even more exciting with video, two videographers used small Canon HD camcorders, one above and one below, and Philipp wore a digital camera on her helmet — provided by Eastman Kodak, headquartered across the street from WXXI. The helmet cam footage was transferred to a camcorder for editing by WXXI's Martin Kaufman.

The station has been creating "Audio Postcards" for several years, Philipp said. "It's a great way to capitalize on the strengths of public radio: sound, storytelling, and a personal connection with the listener." (Photo: WXXI)

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