NEPM’s “Connection Point” has a new host, content

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SPRINGFIELD – Ever since she first got a taste of broadcasting while filming an elementary school news show, Zydalis Bauer knew she wanted a career in television.

“I’ve always been shy, but there was something about being in front of the camera that was a challenge for me. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, ”said Bauer, the new host of New England Public Media’s“ Connecting Point ”, a show focused on politics, community news and, most recently, the arts and culture.

Bauer joins respected hosts who ran ‘Connecting Point’ like Jim Madigan, who worked for WGBY-TV (now NEPM) for 27 years, Carrie Saldo and longtime abc40 / Western Mass News presenter Ray Hershel, who was a guest host after Madigan’s passing in 2019.

“I remember doing bilingual presentations for segments on ‘Connecting Point’ when I was an intern. It’s surreal to me now that I’m the host of the show, ”Bauer said.

In an era when many millennials move from job to job or go back to school and change careers completely, it’s rare for someone to spend their entire career in one company, but it has been. for Bauer so far and she said it was a dream come true.

She was only 18 and was starting college at Holyoke Community College when her aunt mentioned an internship opportunity with the Latino Youth Media Institute.

“I joined the program because I have always had a passion for the media, especially television. You could choose between radio, print or television and of course I chose television, ”she said. “I started an internship here in production. I learned how to use cameras and teleprompers, all the stuff behind the scenes. It was really fascinating to me because being young and naive all I could think about was being in front of the camera. I didn’t think I needed to know everything that had happened behind the camera.

She thanks NEPM mentors like Vanessa Pabón-Hernandez, Senior Director of Education and Community Engagement and Executive Producer of “Presencia” and Keith Clark, Director of Local Production and Production Services, for helping her. to understand the importance of knowing what’s behind the camera if you have aspirations to be in front of it.

“I ended up getting passionate about working behind the camera, producing and editing and I think that made me a stronger talent in front of the camera because I can appreciate what goes on behind the scenes”, she declared.

After her one-year internship, she continued to work with Pabón-Hernandez by running storytelling workshops called Telling Our Legacies Digitally (TOLD) in the North Springfield neighborhood.

“It wasn’t a paid job anymore, but I was so passionate and lived at home, so I kept doing it,” she said.

Pabón-Hernandez remembers his first meeting with Bauer as a teenager.

“It’s hard to believe that ten years ago I interviewed Zydalis for an internship and then made it clear that her career aspirations were to be a host,” said Pabón-Hernandez. “I have enjoyed working alongside him over the years, witnessing his determination and thirst for learning.

As she continued to do the storytelling project, Bauer had other opportunities to be behind and in front of the camera, from her first use of the camera for a live promise show, to doing segments for “Together. in Song, ”a live choral competition that aired on the station for five years.

“I remember feeling like they trusted me to do these things and I remember how fun and exciting it was,” she said.

Bauer, a native of Holyoke who still lives in the city, then graduated from HCC and moved on to Westfield State University where she received her BA in Communication. A few years later, she got married and in 2015 gave birth to a baby girl. Throughout these major life changes, NEPM has been a constant in her life.

“It’s funny because when I started all I was talking about was being a reporter for 22 News, nobody could tell me anything else, that’s what I was going to do, until I realize the storytelling you could tell in a place like this. That’s what attracted me and made me want to stay here, “she said.” Being able to engage with the people. people in a fun and in-depth way, I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it in a breaking news type format. ”

Zydalis Bauer, WGBY Connecting Point host, on screen in the station’s control room. (Hoang ‘Leon’ Nguyen / The Republican)

Bauer was also part of the team that created “Presencia,” an innovative bilingual program featuring Latino culture, food, and musical performances, all focused on people living in western Massachusetts.

“Having this show for our community meant a lot and being a part of the pilot felt like all the hard work we put into the Latino Community Storytelling Project finally paid off,” he said. she declared.

Bauer co-hosted the show with Veronica Garcia, each representing a different aspect of Latino culture.

“You have Veronica who is from Ecuador and who lived there whose mother tongue is Spanish, then you have me, Puerto Rican, a resident of Holyoke whose mother tongue is English and who speaks Spanish but has insecurities, and we were able to show that we are both Latinos, proud of our cultures but representing different facets of it, ”she said.

Tony Dunne, executive producer of “Connecting Point,” said the show not only features more arts, culture and entertainment, it is also a first digital production.

“Our online home hosts more than what you see on your television every week. We have built a robust website, backed by active social media channels, where you can find digital extras and exclusives we don’t have time for in our traditional broadcast, as well as innovative photo and audio galleries and interactive features, ”he said. . “We want the ways in which our audiences can engage with us to be as dynamic, immersive and forward-thinking as the works of many of the artists we cover. “

Dunne said he was delighted to have Bauer as the new face of “Connecting Point”.

“She has a remarkable on-screen presence that puts her guests at ease, is a gifted interviewer who asks thoughtful and nuanced questions, and has a production background so she understands the inner workings of how a show is put together, which makes it a real triple threat, “he said.” As a millennial, she’s comfortable with our digital-first mission, and as a long-time resident from western Massachusetts, she has strong ties to the community, and you can see it in her reports and sources. She cares deeply about doing things right and giving a voice to those who are not often heard. .

Bauer said everything she had learned over the past 13 years, including her work on “Presencia,” had prepared her for this new accommodation opportunity.

“I get to know people from all walks of life, not just politicians or well-known people. What I love is talking to people every day who are making a difference in our community, ”she said. “It was also great for me to come out of my bubble and learn more about the different regions of western New England. We bring out a wide range of cultures in this area and there is diversity in every aspect of the show. “

Bauer has sometimes said that she can’t believe how far she has come.

“I’m proud of myself for sticking to it and for following my dreams and I’m proud to say that I started as an intern and now I can run this program,” she said.

“Connecting Point” airs every Friday at 6 p.m., but digital exclusives are available at https://connectingpoint.nepm.org/.

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