In May, when Audrey Quinn visited a friend’s apartment, her pockets started vibrating. She tried to ignore it, but she apologized and pulled her phone out of her jeans.
“Did you win a Pulitzer Prize?” someone texted. As far as Quinn knows, no. She didn’t even know the podcast she worked on was nominated. But seconds later, after sending a few more texts, she realized it was a series about a boy’s life imprisonment called “Suave.” This is a series she spent nearly a year editing and won in her category for Voice Reports. “I was sitting on the couch with her 2-year-old playing in the other room. It was such a weird and surreal moment,” she says.
In 2007 Quinn enrolled at the University of Washington to study neurobiology. She was drawn to this field because understanding the mind seemed like an advanced pursuit. “But I struggled,” she says.
After college, she realized that “I really enjoyed talking about the science behind how our brains work, but it just didn’t work out in my day-to-day research.” listened to “Radiolab,” a scientific podcast known for sound design, and “This American Life,” a public radio program. She loved the format of those shows.
She received free training at the Bellevue College radio station in exchange for producing articles. That led to her internship at KUOW and Quinn found her calling. It’s time for her to move to New York.
Quinn’s scientific background and reporting experience led her to CBS’ SmartPlanet. After that, she worked as a guest reporter for her NPR’s “Planet Money” and found a full-time position at her radio station in New York Public. At the same time she worked as an independent contractor and began teaching journalism at New York University.
In 2019, Futuro Media invited Quinn to a major project. Emmy Award-winning reporter Maria Hinojosa had been interviewing David Luis “Suave” Gonzalez for her 25 years. Gonzalez had been sentenced to life imprisonment as a minor. In 2012, a Supreme Court ruling released him after 31 years. This podcast explores his journey through the criminal justice system and adjusting to life “out there.”
Quinn had already made several reports about the incarcerated people and was eager to join the team. Quinn brings innovative editorial skills cultivated at the top of the growing podcast industry. The team started working on her podcast in October 2019 and didn’t finish it until the summer of 2020. A Brooklyn neighborhood listening to version after version as she tweaks. “The team was so strong, the tape was so strong,” she says. “We have made Suave’s journey immersive and we’ve snuck into a lot of facts, figures and history.”
She won a Pulitzer Prize, but Quinn’s life “has changed very little,” she says. think.”