I am a reporter. I am a musician. I am a storyteller. I am NPR Next Gen.

My passion for music and the arts, along with my passion for storytelling through journalism, was able to be combined in order to not just report on a worldwide issue, but also to tell a powerful story.

Enjoy this mini performance about Next Generation Radio via my room! #COVIDthings

When I was first discovered the Next Generation Radio program back in March, I was so excited to apply for it. I love NPR and its style of reporting and wanted to be a part of Next Generation Radio’s diverse storytelling environment. The day I found out I was chosen for the program on March 13, I was so incredibly excited, only to find out just a few hours later that all schools were going online and the project had to be canceled.

However, I am so glad the project happened this week and I learned so much. This program had some of the most intense deadlines I had ever experienced. I didn’t know how I would make those deadlines, but I knew I would make them—not by my own skill, but because I had to.  The deadlines, creative digital assignments, workshops on solutions journalism, talk on “Protect Your Magic,” and the experience of multimedia reporting, pushed me in ways I knew I needed to be pushed. Within just five days, I feel like I am a significantly better reporter than before. When it comes to the future, Next Generation Radio gave me the creative experience to further experiment with how to report on stories through my multimedia projects (such as my own podcast) and share stories on all digital platforms (thanks to NPR encouraging us to experiment with audiograms for social media posts).

I always had a feeling that NPR was the kind of journalism platform that tells stories from unique, intersectional, cross-cultural perspective, and I was right. There is a reason why every time I listen to NPR’s shows or its podcasts, that I feel at home, and that I feel like the reporter is someone familiar to me, even though I cannot see their face. Thank you, Next Generation Radio, for helping me to be me. And here’s why:

I have always felt caught running alone between two worlds: journalism and music. I was someone who obtained a bachelors degree in Music in Vocal Performance (opera/classical singing) and a minor in journalism. I was very self-taught at first (just a singer who couldn’t stop talking, writing, asking questions, or telling stories on the world around us) and didn’t know if that would cut it. I found a deep love for both and did not want to give up either.  

With this project through NPR, I felt I didn’t have to give up either, but rather both made the other stronger. My passion for music and the arts, along with my passion for storytelling through journalism was able to be combined in order to not just report on a worldwide issue, but also tell a story that I hope inspires, encourages, and provides solutions to the crisis the performing arts world (and all of us) are facing with COVID-19.

For more behind-the-scenes on my “Virtual Opera: The Sound of Music During COVID-19” story click the videos down below!

By Xochitl Hernández

Xochitl Hernández is a recent graduate of California State University, Northridge where she received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and a minor in Spanish-language journalism. While at CSUN, Xochitl received classical voice and music training in addition to performing in operas, being a multimedia journalist, podcaster, reporter and lead anchor on Valley View News where she reported on issues pertaining to the Latinx community, the 2020 presidential election, COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter movement, and music. As a journalist, artist, and singer, she considers herself a storyteller passionate about people and raising awareness on social issues. Xochitl aspires to combine both her art forms which she has already started to do by creating her own podcast Notes From Her, interviewing and reporting on women of color musicians in the classical and non-classical music industry. She aspires to travel the world as both a reporter and performing artist, combining both multimedia journalism and music to tell stories of Latinx, BIPOC, international, and marginalized communities.

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