It’s the end of an era at Voice of OC at the end of this week, as County Reporter Nick Gerda moves to continue his journalism career at public radio station LAist 89.3 – formerly KPCC – covering unhoused communities in Southern California.

Gerda joined Voice of OC as an intern in 2011, just two years after Voice of OC’s founding, and became a full time reporter a year later.

Gerda continues the path paved by other Voice of OC alumni, taking the skills learned here and applying them at a host of mainstream legacy news outlets like CalMatters and the LA Times. 

One of Gerda’s earliest memories about learning core VOC values – based on traditional, shoe-leather reporting – came from our former Civic Editor and trail blazing journalist, Tracy Wood.

“She taught me how to press for public records. She said be politie but persistent. That lesson gave me a practical skill, which I continue to use to this day. I’ll always be grateful to Tracy for her mentorship,” recalled Gerda.

He expressed his gratitude to his sources, Voice of OC’s readers, and all of his Voice colleagues – past and present – for their guidance and collaborative spirit.

“Nick understands the value of essential journalism,” said Voice of OC Publisher and Editor in Chief Norberto Santana, Jr.

“Across a host of government agencies over the past decade, both as our first intern and later county reporter, Nick’s pen has made a difference, keeping Orange County taxpayers in the front seat in real-time. He’s also been a leader in the newsroom, helping train the next generation of Voice of OC reporters. We’re all really excited for him and wish him the best.” 

Much like Tracy Wood did for him, Nick shared his institutional knowledge of the county with his peers as they joined Voice of OC. 

As Nick begins a new chapter in his career we asked the news staff to share a memory of working with him:

Spencer Custodio, Civic Editor: “I would always be able to call Nick for quick, accurate insight and institutional knowledge on virtually everything happening at the county level. His memory and knowledge reminded me of a computer hard drive, it’s something I’ve always admired. That institutional knowledge would help beef up some of my stories because he was not only able to remember relevant issues and contextualize things off the top of his head, but Nick would always follow it up with a list of previous stories we’d written on similar issues.  

In 2018, when covering the federal lawsuit stemming from the Santa Ana Riverbed homeless camp evictions, Nick, Thy Vo and I were constantly in federal court houses, various homeless camps, city halls and community center meetings during our reporting of the stories. Nick was able to quickly break down old budgets and detail county spending on homelessness services that were key to many of our stories — something that U.S. District Judge David Carter also focused on in the federal court hearings, which were sometimes held on the riverbed. 

Nick Gerda will certainly be missed at Voice of OC and we wish him the best of luck on his new adventures.”

Brandon Pho, Reporter: “I first met Gerda at my first Voice of OC staff meeting as a junior in college, a time in which I instantly questioned whether I was in over my head. At this meeting back in 2018, where there were other OGs like the late Tracy Wood and former staff writer Thy Vo, I quickly realized this would be much different than my more confident stomping grounds at the CSUF school newspaper. And at this meeting, I quickly realized that Gerda was a reporter who seemed to know everything about everyone — the ins and outs of government agencies that I had no idea existed. My head was spinning — How could I possibly get a grasp on so many issues the way Gerda and the others seemed to be able to with ease? That answer came by studying under him. Gerda has been a permanent influence on my writing and reporting, and on my journalistic intuition as a whole.”

Hosam Elattar, Reporter: “Nick worked with me on some of my first stories for Voice of OC and I remember heading over to the courthouse in Santa Ana and listening in on a hearing regarding cities’ homeless response in the county. It was an absolute pleasure working with him and in the process learning from a journalist as incredibly talented as him who for over a decade has held officials across Orange County accountable for the benefit of residents.”

Noah Biesiada, Reporter: “When I started at Voice as an intern, Nick was the one who taught me everything I needed to know about campaign finance and records requests. I don’t think anyone even told him he needed to, I was just curious about it and he spent like three hours in a coffee shop teaching me. Kind of ironic that our last story together was a review of the Lincoln Club’s campaign spending losses. I’m sad to see him go but grateful I got to learn from him over the past three and a half years.”

We asked Nick to put together a list of his favorite stories, stories that made him proud or that he thought made an impact. Here is his list:

Nick is particularly proud of the voter guides and candidate questionnaires the newsroom put together with question ideas from readers. The voter guides were particularly resonant for readers and ended the year among the top read stories for 2022.

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