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“The Cut” is a weekly reporters notebook-type essay by an Ideastream Public Media content creator, reflecting on the news and on life in Northeast Ohio. What exactly does “The Cut” mean? It's a throwback to the old days of using a razor blade to cut analog tape. In radio lingo, we refer to sound bites as “cuts.” So think of these behind-the-scene essays as “cuts” from Ideastream's producers.

Taking the time to make the 'Sound of Ideas' even better

Panelists in the "Sound of Ideas" radio studio
Rachel Rood
Ideastream Public Media
Cleveland Sustainability Director Sarah O'Keeffe, front left, Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne, Growth Opportunity Partners CEO Michael Jeans and Greater Cleveland Partnership CEO Baiju Shah discussed ways to make Northeast Ohio greener on the "Sound of Ideas" with host Jenny Hamel, right, in December 2023.

In 2015, shortly after I was hired as an associate producer of the “Sound of Ideas,” our team was given the chance to take a day or two away from the daily responsibilities of the live public affairs show to brainstorm ideas about how to make the show better.

I was amazed. Never before had I worked for an organization that gave us the space to just think about our process. We talked about what the show was, who our audience was, and new ideas that would make the show not only more informative, but more enjoyable for our listeners.

The show you hear today incorporates many of those ideas from that brainstorming session in 2015. We cover a lot more news from the Statehouse, thanks to those sessions. We feature Karen Kasler not just on the Friday Reporters Roundtable, but regularly throughout the week. We also feature a lot more arts and culture on our air, and more of our own reporters’ work.

Almost nine years later, I’m the supervising producer of the “Sound of Ideas.” With our new host, Jenny Hamel, in place since October, it felt like the right time to have another brainstorming session.

So last week, we headed over to the library inside the City Club of Cleveland's new Playhouse Square digs to engage in a day-long retreat away from the office. Over morning bagels and coffee, we began a robust discussion about who we are in the community, what we're doing now, and what new ideas we want to incorporate this year.

We talked about our show’s values with these words rising to the top: informative, accurate, fair, civil, respectful to our guests and responsive to our listeners. We want to be on top of the news and give you analysis beyond the headlines, but we also want to make more room for fun, and for “water cooler” topics, like the etiquette of tipping. That's a topic we addressed in December and the feedback let us know we tapped into something you wanted to talk about.

We also talked about things we could be doing better, like striving to be even more regional by telling more stories and shining a light on more issues outside of Cleveland and Akron. We're looking at you, Lorain, Wayne and Stark counties, along with the rest of the 22 counties in our listening area.

We brainstormed interesting segment ideas, such as “Environmental Steward,” where once a month, we’ll spend an hour talking to experts about different ways people can be more sustainable in their everyday lives.

We discussed ways to make the show more accessible, by increasing our digital content, including posting more on social media. We'd already begun posting daily to YouTube. We also talked about posting more short videos online.

I know I left feeling really excited and energized about the show. And I knew we needed to make this retreat a yearly tradition, so we are constantly thinking forward.

If you have any ideas on how to make our show better in 2024, or have any topic suggestions, please send them our way to soi@ideastream.org. Our show is an interactive one. We invite calls and emails every day. And we invite them when we're off the air, too. Please reach out with your ideas.

On behalf of our team — Host Jenny Hamel, Coordinating Producer Leigh Barr, Coordinating Producer Drew Maziasz, Associate Producer Jay Shah and Executive Editor Mike McIntyre, who hosts the Friday Reporters Roundtable — I hope you’ll tune in.

It's going to be a great year.

“The Cut” is featured in Ideastream Public Media’s weekly newsletter, The Frequency Week in Review. To get The Frequency Week in Review, The Daily Frequency or any of our newsletters, sign up on Ideastream’s newsletter subscription page

Rachel is the supervising producer for Ideastream Public Media’s morning public affairs show, the “Sound of Ideas.”
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