By Anna Yakutenko |

It has been three weeks since I started my Fellowship at Kansas City University Radio – an affiliate of National Public Radio in Kansas City, Missouri. And I must admit, it’s a challenging time having to start everything from scratch and completely switch to radio, when you are so used to working at a newspaper.

However, it’s fun too. I feel that my writing has become crisper and my sentences more concise, and sound editing takes less time. I am learning how to improve my audio reporting to make multimedia stories — both short news stories and podcasts.

My mentor is Sylvia Maria Gross, a storytelling editor at KCUR. She makes a wonderful podcast called “Midwesternish.” She shows me how to write scripts for the podcasts, how to record and edit them faster and better. I will also work on my pronunciation and my voice to be able to host shows.

Some of the reporters here are also earning money on their podcasts by selling ads and sponsorship. It’s a great thing for me to learn and implement at home, as the Kyiv Post is a commercially driven newspaper in the first place.

KCUR is a very busy place, with around 60 staff producing shows, news stories, podcasts, features and working on social outreach and promoting the radio.

It strikes me that the KCUR staff is expanding, while in most of the American media they lay off people. They are a great team to learn from.

Life in Kansas City, or KC as locals call it, is also full of challenges. Everything is different from Ukraine “in those small things” — from taking a bus to ordering food in a restaurant.

I am happy that we had a lecture about culture shock right after we arrived – otherwise I wouldn’t know that it’s normal to feel irritated when you, a professional journalist, don’t know how to insert money in the cash register at the bus. Once, I also tried to pay my fair at the bus with a credit card. That’s how I found out that bus drivers in KC accept cash only.  

I haven’t yet been to a baseball or American football game – so I am not an expert in American culture yet. And I will definitely have things to tell in my next blog.

I am also trying to conclude how I can describe Americans to my friends in Ukraine. Are they polite but reserved? Midwesternish nice? Hardworking and focused on careers, or family people?

Eventually, I failed to sum them up in few sentences.  The truth is that people in United States are as diverse and unique as everywhere in the world.