“The human voice is powerful and intimate”

Northeastern
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Elana Gordon, a radio reporter and a producer at WHYY in Philadelphia and current Knight Science Journalism Fellow at M.I.T., told students at Northeastern University that while she did not major in journalism, she found herself drawn to radio when she realized the power of the medium.

“Radio can be really fun,” said Gordon. “I like the moment of realizing how human voices are so powerful and intimate.”

She turned to radio because she didn’t think print was for her. “I always had this insecurity that maybe because I didn’t come from a print background so I always was thinking how to express the media in a different way.”

Gordon spoke on Nov. 15 at Pizza, Press and Politics, a speaker series sponsored by Northeastern’s School of Journalism.

Gordon is now covering health and science and is a founding member of the station’s weekly show, “The Pulse.” Prior to working for WHYY, Gordon had several other jobs. She worked at the health clinic where she spent a lot of time interviewing and listening to people’s stories.

“I found myself really moved, in this very intimate spaces, where people share their most vulnerable moments which has to do with their health that is both very universal and also very stigmatizing,” she said. “I felt powerful in that convey and in that storytelling.”

When she was younger, she was one of those kids that always carried the tape recorder where she would record her friends and family. Gordon never planned to actually focus her work on the public health.

She was doing a lot of community work and she feels like it kind of found her. “Being so fascinated and interested in both personal and these big-picture ways. How we get health care and how we take care of ourselves,” said Gordon.

When she started working for WHYY five years ago, the station was thinking of launching health and science show. The ultimate goal was to make a health and science magazine in audio form. One of the first health stories Gordon created for the show was “The MRI is a source of anxiety and musical inspiration,” an exploration of claustrophobia and noise. It’s still one of her favorites.

Suhra is a graduate student at Northeastern’s School of Journalism.

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