How a radio producer spends her Sundays

KalaLea has worked in video and graphic design, web production, photography and editing. She trained in yoga and Reiki, and she pursued organic farming in Brazil. She gave cooking lessons, started a restaurant business and opened a coffee shop in Brooklyn. But once she found the radio, she got stuck.

She is now a producer at the New Yorker Radio Hour. His work ranges from pitching story ideas to conducting pre-release interviews to researching music. Eventually, she puts all the pieces together: “I cut some tape and make the thing,” she says. KalaLea, who has had a unique name since 2003, is 51 and lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

WAKE UP AND READ I never set an alarm but for some reason my biological clock always wakes me up eight hours after I fall asleep, so I wake up between 7 and 8 in the morning. I go through the whole New York Times first. I leaf through the New Yorker. I also usually have four to five books by my bed and will read one or sometimes skim through them all. One I have is “The Cross of Redemption” by James Baldwin. I always like to be inspired by James Baldwin when I’m working on something.

COOK, LISTEN I’ll get up after that and start thinking about food. Someone is usually in town – a friend may be visiting and I can bring them over for a late lunch as it motivates me to prepare food for the week. Breakfast could be hash browns, turkey bacon, cooked peaches, bok choy, and avocado. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s the kind of breakfasts I make. This year, the first thing I put in my mouth, I try to make it raw. Mainly raw fruits or vegetables. At this point, I’m probably going to have lunch too, so I might be boiling some black beans or lentils, or something’s in the oven, or I’m marinating things, like fish. Every time I cook, I listen to a podcast. I could listen to WNYC, like On the Media and Death Sex & Money, or catch up on Reveal, This American Life, Criminal or Throughline.

VERSATILE REVIEW Then I’ll look at my to-do list. There will be things I didn’t do on Saturday and I will have a slight panic attack then. I have a journal that I write in, but in the back I put to-do lists and work my way from the last page until the writing and to-do lists meet. Then it’s time to get a new journal.

EXPLORING If the weather is good, I try to go for a bike ride somewhere, maybe in a neighborhood I don’t know very well, or in Prospect Park. Not long ago I went to Prospect Park for food with Wildman Steve. He and his daughter go there. I’m still very nervous about what I can eat. I wish I had taken better notes.

SAVASANA I come home and one of the things on my to-do list is to rest. So I have a rest session of at least 30 minutes. I will have a yoga mat in my living room, and I take the opportunity to boil some water because I drank certain teas, like nettle and hibiscus, to help me manage my blood pressure . I will lie on my mat and set my timer and have a blanket over me and do savasana.

FRIENDS Then it might be time for someone to come. They come into the kitchen and we catch up, then we take him to the living room, where we eat and talk. I have friends who do a lot of very different things. The last friend who visited me was from Sydney, Australia, an artist and a Buddhist who teaches meditation. I had a friend from London, he’s a psychotherapist. A friend came to lunch from Jamaica who worked in fashion. With all my friends, I feel like we have very intense conversations. For music, I love playing Virginia Rodrigues. I think she has an angel voice. Like a silky angel.

WEAK LISTENING At home, I will start preparing dinner and food for the week. I have a radio in my kitchen. Additionally, our show, The New Yorker Radio Hour, airs on WNYC. It’s a nice way to listen once again without headphones. There are a lot of things I could take away, technically or in terms of sound design. Something may have been too loud before, but on the radio I cook and pour water and it just makes sense.

TENACITY OF MIND I could go for a walk. There’s that certain tenacity of spirit that starts at Nostrand and continues throughout Bed-Stuy. Trees, brownstones and brown people. The community really feels at home. If twilight is upon us, especially since I’m now teaching at CUNY, I’m hyper aware that my week is going to be crazy, so I have to be home no later than 7 o’clock.

LETTERS Sometimes I write cards or letters for friends or my partner, like surprises for him. I’ve been writing a letter to my mother for a few months. I think at 51 I realized there was so much she was going through at that age. I want to show him gratitude and compassion.

NIGHT FOOD I sometimes like to water the plants in the evening because I think that while I sleep the plants absorb the water and the fertilizer and the love that I have given them. I go to bed around 8 or 9 o’clock. I invested in sheets and nice pajamas.

ALL CONNECTED I like to end the evening by watching something. People are texting me and asking me what I’m watching, and I have this list ready to go. “Welcome to Chippendales”; “The White Lotus”; “Fleishman is in trouble”; “Kindred”, the adaptation of Octavia Butler; “Wealth” is a bit more. Additional drama. Television and film definitely inspire the work I do. I listen when musical signals arrive. I think of the structure. I grew up like that. Television, cinema, music, everything is linked. Next year, one of my goals is to write a TV pilot. I’ll turn off the TV at 11 p.m. I’ll take the weekly New York Times News quiz, just to see, and I’ll think, “Oh, I was really listening.


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