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NCPR News Staff: Zach Hirsch

Reporter and Producer

Zach Hirsch has a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Vermont. He got his radio training at the Transom Story Workshop in Woods Hole, MA.
 
He hosted a community radio show during his years at UVM, but it was actually coursework that motivated him to pursue a career in public radio journalism. As a senior at the university, he carried out a yearlong, ethnographic investigation on surveillance and discipline in an outdoor mall. He won honors for his thesis, but he wasn't entirely satisfied. The final report was too academic – it failed to tell the story in a way that was accessible to most people. So he began translating the paper into radio stories and interviews, which he broadcast on his weekly show on WRUV.
 
Zach left Burlington in March 2013, when he was accepted into the Transom program. In Woods Hole, he was among an elite group of nine radio producers, learning how to create human-sounding stories under the mentorship of award-winning documentarians. While at the program, he reported on the psychological aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing. His profile of two survivors was at the center of an hour-long discussion on WCAI's The Point. Zach's work has also aired on New Hampshire Public Radio, WFUV in New York, PRX Remix, and HowSound.

Stories filed by Zach Hirsch

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Inside the tiny Potsdam mosque. Photo: Zach Hirsch
Inside the tiny Potsdam mosque. Photo: Zach Hirsch

For North Country Muslims, NYPD surveillance ruling brings back memories

A recent federal ruling is bringing back memories of surveillance in Potsdam's Muslim community.

Since 9/11, the New York City Police Department has played an increasingly aggressive role in domestic counter-terrorism efforts. The NYPD has investigated mosques and entire ethnic communities, a point that raises concerns among civil liberties advocates. Undercover agents have also monitored the websites of Muslim Student Associations at more than 15 universities.

According to an Associated Press report from 2012, NYPD officers scrutinized the online activities of Muslims at Clarkson and SUNY Potsdam.  Go to full article
County officials and others at the panel in Canton on Feb. 5, 2014. Photo: David Sommerstein
County officials and others at the panel in Canton on Feb. 5, 2014. Photo: David Sommerstein

How St. Lawrence County officials hope to counteract poverty

Late last year, the Associated Press wrote that income inequality in the United States is at its worst since the 1920s.

Poverty is nothing new in St. Lawrence County: It's struggled economically for decades. The county has one of the highest unemployment rates in New York state, and people lean heavily here on social services. At a recent panel discussion at SUNY Canton, six of the people tasked with providing those services talked about how to deal with the problems the county's poorest residents are facing.  Go to full article
Lecturer Jennifer MacGregor speaks with her students after they turn on their phones for the first time in twelve days. Photo: Zach Hirsch
Lecturer Jennifer MacGregor speaks with her students after they turn on their phones for the first time in twelve days. Photo: Zach Hirsch

St. Lawrence students unplug for academic credit

It can be scary when you can't get hold of someone. Most people these days are always reachable in some way, whether it's by cell phone, text, email, or Facebook.

Today's college students are part of the first generation to have grown up with social media, and St. Lawrence University lecturer Jennifer MacGregor is interested in how that's impacted their psychological development.

So MacGregor conducted an experiment: as part of her course "Identity in the Internet Age" she recently had her students "unplug" from the internet and social media for 12 days.  Go to full article
A residential propane tank in Illinois, which is one of the Midwestern states enduring a propane shortage. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jpmatth/11691380825/">Jason Matthews</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
A residential propane tank in Illinois, which is one of the Midwestern states enduring a propane shortage. Photo: Jason Matthews, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

North country feels the propane pain

It has been hard to keep the house warm this winter. Record low temperatures have sucked up the various fuels we use for home heating - oil, wood, electricity. It's been particularly hard for people who rely on propane for heating their homes.

North Country residents who use propane are feeling the effects of a nationwide snafu between supply and demand.  Go to full article
Singer-songwriter Mikaela Davis in our Canton studio.
Singer-songwriter Mikaela Davis in our Canton studio.

Listen: singer-songwriter-harpist

Yesterday, singer-songwriter Mikaela Davis came to our studios for a brief recording session. Davis has an unusual set up: instead of singing over the standard acoustic guitar, her instrument is a harp. Here's some sound of the artist setting up.  Go to full article
Wanakena resident Bill King looks at the Oswegatchie River from his window. As of Wednesday, the river was still mostly covered by jagged ice. Photo: Zach Hirsch
Wanakena resident Bill King looks at the Oswegatchie River from his window. As of Wednesday, the river was still mostly covered by jagged ice. Photo: Zach Hirsch

Wanakena residents lose a treasure, for now

On Monday, an ice jam in Wanakena caused floods, and severe damage to a historic footbridge. Nobody was physically hurt, but the physical damage has caused some emotional bruises.  Go to full article
Photo: Zach Hirsch
Photo: Zach Hirsch

Iconic footbridge needs "complete rebuild"

This week's warm weather might have been nice for those who enjoy shedding a few layers. But rapidly thawing ice creates all sorts of problems.

On Monday, a beloved footbridge in Wanakena got hit hard when an ice jam came roaring down the Oswegatchie River. There aren't many of these footbridges in New York, and residents of the small community are upset.  Go to full article
Pro-gun advocates line up to fire "the shot heard 'round New York" at the Black Lake Fish and Game Association in Morristown, NY. Photo: Zach Hirsch
Pro-gun advocates line up to fire "the shot heard 'round New York" at the Black Lake Fish and Game Association in Morristown, NY. Photo: Zach Hirsch

2nd Amendment advocates fire their weapons in protest

This past weekend marked the one-year anniversary of New York's tough gun law, known as the SAFE Act.

On Saturday, opponents of the law held rallies they called "the shot heard 'round New York," where they fired a symbolic gunshot in protest of the SAFE Act.  Go to full article
Catherine Matthews. Photo: Canton Church and Community Program
Catherine Matthews. Photo: Canton Church and Community Program

Listen: feeding the people

For many, the end of December is a time of giving. Volunteering and donating to people in need - it's all part of the Christmas spirit.

But when the holidays end, so does a lot of that generosity. In this next story, we hear from a Canton woman who helps the needy year round.  Go to full article
Kelly at her home in Saranac Lake. Photo: Kelly Metzgar.
Kelly at her home in Saranac Lake. Photo: Kelly Metzgar.

On self-discovery: Kelly Metzgar, trans woman

As 2013 comes to a close, we're looking back at some of our favorite stories from the year. Some are newsy, some are just for fun. This piece is about a personal journey.

Kelly Metzgar was born a boy. Now, in her mid-fifties, she's starting to live publicly as a woman.

Zach Hirsch brings us the story of how one person has finally stopped living in hiding.  Go to full article

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