In Memoriam: Gina Hotta

The BLC with sadness and deep regret announces the passing of Gina Hotta, BLC recording technician, in the early hours on Tuesday, September 29th, of a heart attack.

Gina began her work at the BLC on June 11, 2001. She was taking over from Alex Prisadsky, who had been with the BLC for 20+ years. As part of the interview process, Alex prepared a sound file filled with hisses and hums and other errors. Each candidate listened to the file and then commented on the errors and what needed to be done to fix them. Gina spoke in a quiet but knowledgeable voice about the problems in the files. After listening to each candidate’s analysis, Alex commented that all the candidates had excellent technical skills, but that Gina stood out for what she had heard.

During her time at the BLC, Gina performed hundreds of recordings in a variety of formats and venues, from UC conferences spanning several days to a 10-minute recording of an oral quiz for a language class. She treated every recording with deep respect and care. The audio materials of textbooks by UC faculty, the transfer of dozens of textbook audio materials to our online lessons page, the digitization of the Audio Archive of Field Recordings of Native Americans, and the digitization of the Speech Archive were projects she made happen. She recorded the radio show, Science Today, distributed from UCOP to CBS radio stations. And she recorded all the BLC lectures.

When thinking about Gina’s work, the word that comes to mind is meticulous. When we entered the recording studio on Tuesday morning, the place was spotless. Her student employees had stacks of work with instructions, all the equipment was covered, everything in its place. Her date book had all the recordings for the semester listed. Her computer hard drive had recent recordings that were in the process of being edited, with all the requisite files in place. Her meticulousness emanated from the respect she had for the material that was being recorded. For Gina, all the work she did was equally important, be that a language quiz or a textbook recording or a lecture by a famous professor or field recordings of a Native American community. She treated the recordings with respect and care.

Gina was a private person. She didn’t talk much about herself or her personal life, but for her colleagues who showed interest, she was an exceptional source of information on progressive and labor issues. When she saw a problem she listened, and she took action. We knew that she was active in the University Professionals and Technical Employees union, active at KPFA, active in the Asian American community. At KPFA she produced and hosted Apex Express. I do not know much about her work in UPTE, but suffice it to say that her heart attack occurred during an UPTE meeting, where she had spoken about the recent strike at UC. And she was active because she cared – cared about the university, about her work, her fellow workers, about the greater Bay Area community. Her care for others and respect for their work, her quiet and knowledgeable voice, her ear for a good recording, will be missed at the BLC and in the language teaching community at Berkeley.