KCRW producer Saul Gonzalez impressed upon a packed audience Monday at the Center for Oral and Public History’s Hansen Lecture Series that to become a good storyteller, people have to make a connection and know a lot of things.
Prior to KCRW, Gonzalez worked for KCET in Southern California on the news magazine SoCal Connected. Gonzalez won eight regional Emmys for his efforts.
Gonzalez spoke of his interviewing and reporting techniques, and suggested that those in attendance practice interviewing with family members and get a handle on technology like the radio.
Gonzalez pointed to his gear next to the podium and noted that journalists need to be multimedia-savvy.
“Everything I do for radio is in this bag,” Gonzalez said. “Just with what’s in that bag … I can tell a credible story that will air nationally.”
A highlight of Gonzalez’s talk was his transformation to a storyteller. No longer interested in comprehensive reporting and raw facts, Gonzalez wants to be known for storytelling.
“I just try to tell good, honest, increasingly simple stories about very vexing things, sometimes disturbing, sometimes whimsical, sometimes controversial,” Gonzalez said. “But I think my most important work involves going out, meeting normal people who are going through some extraordinary things and somehow, through my words and their words and their interviews, you make a connection.”
Nancy Fitch, Ph.D., chair of the history department, opened the lecture by honoring the assembled guests, including former center director Arthur A. Hansen and current director Natalie Fousekis.
Fousekis touched upon the Center for Oral and Public History’s unrivaled size and collection.
“We are the largest regionally focused archive of oral history in the state of California,” Fousekis said. “We are coming up close to 6,000 oral history interviews in our collection and we also have thousands of photographs and document collections as well.”
Other projects spearheaded by the center include the Nixon project, which centers around recordings of people who knew Richard Nixon before he became a public figure, and the Mexican-American project, which looked at the deportation of Mexican-Americans during the Great Depression.
“As we become a center that does both – records histories and brings them into the public in this modern era – this lecture series, I believe, has been central to bringing some of the most prominent public intellectuals who engage in the kind of work that we do,” Fousekis said.
The College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Center for Oral and Public History created the lecture series in honor of Hansen, CSUF emeritus professor of history.
The next event sponsored by the Center for Oral and Public History in May is a panel and a film screening of “No Más Bebés” at the Orange County Heritage Museum in Santa Ana.