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Meet Andrew Lopez, our new Korva Coleman Diversity intern

Melanie Rivera-Cortez

Andrew Lopez joins the KMUW newsroom this summer as part of our Korva Coleman Diversity in Journalism internship program.

Andrew Lopez is our third Korva Coleman intern, following Katelynn McIlwain last summer and Hafsa Quraishiin 2020.

Katelynn is currently working on her master’s degree at the University of Missouri while Hafsa is a Morning Edition field producer for WBUR in Boston.

Andrew is enrolled in the University of California-Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. Before enrolling in grad school, Andrew worked as a substitute teacher and at an independent record label in the Bay Area.

He moved from his home in Los Angeles to San Francisco in 2014 to finish up his undergraduate degree in broadcast communication at San Francisco State University. After graduating in 2016, he immediately got to work producing and hosting a music show on BFF.fm, a community online radio station in San Francisco.

His internship in Wichita is a collaboration between KMUW and Korva Coleman, an NPR newscaster. It is designed to train college students of color to be part of the next generation of public radio reporters and newscasters.

As part of the internship, Korva provides mentoring to the students. She talks with Andrew nearly every week. They chat about his goals as a journalist, story ideas and how they both navigate their field as people of color.

The internship also is supported by the Kansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

KMUW talked with Andrew about his start in journalism, his interest in music, his career goals and his impressions of Wichita and Kansas.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

KMUW: You decided to return to school (at Cal-Berkeley) to pursue a master's degree in journalism. Tell us about that decision. 

I always had an interest in storytelling and an interest in public media and radio. I think by the time COVID came around and I couldn't substitute teach anymore, I was kind of like, ‘Well, let's take a second look at … this passion that I've always had growing up, and let's see if I can take the next step and apply to graduate school.’

And here I am.

Why public media in particular, in terms of journalism? 

I just think it's always good to have media for people that's free. I mean, I grew up watching PBS and KCET in Los Angeles and just watching things that I can just learn from in the evening, watching things I could learn from on Saturday mornings that weren't cartoons.

And … being able to just hear about the community around me, from other community members. That's what's really interesting to me.

Before you went back to grad school, you spent several years working in the music industry. Tell us about your interest in music.

I came from a pretty musical family. My parents just love music, they would always play it in the car. They'd always either have a Santana CD in the car or a Paul McCartney and Wings CD in the car. So growing up, I kind of developed my own personal taste and then went to a lot of concerts and shows.

Being a part of the DIY music scene in my community college years kind of then evolved to me hosting my own music show at my college radio station … and then interning eventually at a local record label in San Francisco called Father/Daughter Records. And while at the label, I was able to support the local art scene. And I think that's really important, especially coming from someone who's not from the area. I think it's really important to kind of nurture the preexisting community of artists and creatives in a place where it's hard to be an artist.

You got to see a show at the Orpheum Theatre.

I did. The historic Orpheum Theatre and that was great. It was an eclectic mix of artists who were there for a good cause (“Night of the Living Jedd” benefit for KMUW’s Jedd Beaudoin).

It just shows what the community can do when they see that one of their own, someone who also loves music and is also into the music community, if they need help, they can definitely support them. And I think that's what's so special about music communities.

You've already had some conversations with Korva Coleman, who's part of our internship program. How are those early conversations going?

They've been fantastic. I look forward to every time I get to speak to Korva. She just has so much experience and wisdom, and her personal experience as a woman of color really kind of speaks to my experience as a Latino man and how the industry hasn’t really made it easy for us in a lot of ways.

And she understands that, and to put so much of her time and energy into starting an internship like this with a newsroom that understands and wants to support her vision is really important to people like me and important to people who are probably going to be applying to this position a year from now.

You go back to grad school (this fall) … And then what's the goal after that?

I would like to stick around in public media. I mean, working for an NPR affiliate for the past month and a half has been amazing, and I've learned so much.

When you're not here at KMUW, what do you do for fun in your spare time?

I've been watching a lot of movies in theaters. I would say that I've probably been to the movie theater more times in the past two months than I have in the past year.

It's been really fun exploring the city … I've never been to Kansas before. So every single thing I do here is new to me including taking day trips out to places. I've been to the Bartlett Arboretum, and I'm going to go back tomorrow because it's just amazing.

I've hit the skate park. I've hit the barbershop. I've hit the record stores. I've gone to all these places that I think you really learn a lot about a city from.

Do you skate? 

I do sometimes.

I'm getting a little old for it. The last time I went to the skate park, my back was hurting the next day, and I was like, ‘Oh well.’ But it's a great workout, and the people who are there are just having fun and just being themselves and sticking it to the man, you know, one kickflip at a time.

Has anything surprised you about Wichita or Kansas? … Or is different than you thought it would be? 

It's not the flyover country that I think a lot of people think it is. There's a lot hiding on every street corner and a lot of stories that are hidden in plain sight.

Food's really good and the drinks are strong. And it's a beautiful landscape. But I'm still getting used to this weather,

You're certainly the oldest intern we’ve ever had. But I'm guessing that maybe that's an advantage, having lived a little bit of your life?

I definitely think so. And I'm not just saying this as a J-school elder, as I call myself.

But I think just having the experience between undergraduate school and my experience now really helps. Working all these jobs, meeting all these people, learning so much about the world in the Bay Area and learning about the people and having all these experiences. I think that definitely helps a lot. And if people can take a break to work professionally, if that's within their reach, then I recommend it.

KMUW News is a team of dedicated on-air and digital reporters working to tell the stories of Wichita and its residents.