Why I Will Always Love Radio

“In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story.” – Walter Cronkite on journalism.

It all started in my teens. Watching the evening news sparked a curiosity on many levels. Learning about other cultures, taking in important events that shape history, and hearing personal stories that leave an impact, all influenced my interest in journalism. Years of travel with my family opened my mind up to the idea of pursuing that curiosity on a professional level. With that in mind, I applied to Emerson College in Boston – a renowned university known for its core focus on communication and the arts. It was the beginning of an exciting four-year period of my life. College provided opportunities to grow in the journalism field (from classes to 3 internships to extracurricular activities), to meet friends with similar interests, and to absorb valuable lessons from professors who were all journalism veterans.

I would recommend any incoming college freshman to jump at the chance to get involved with on-campus activities. Not only do you get to apply theory from class, but you also get to expand on your skills. I will never forget the experience I shared with classmates and friends through extracurricular activities such as through the award-winning college radio station, WERS.org, through online student radio station WECB, and through WEBN – a student-run television station. The one thing that sticks with me the most was working at WERS.org. It was there that I was able to grow into journalism by delving into many roles: as a news reporter, and later as the leading producer, long-form news reporter, and on-air host of its Associated Press award-winning public affairs news show, “You Are Here.”

RADIO headphones

Running every aspect of an hour-long public affairs show is no easy task, but, to me, it was all for the love of the news. I’m a news junkie and proud of it! I happily spent most of my time at WERS. Friends there became like a second family and helped run WERS through their departments (news, on-air DJs, student management, live mix… you name it). Reporters contributing to “You Are Here” – who were also among my closest friends – were inspiring fellow journalists who dedicated their energy to bringing the utmost quality and care into reporting. The show was our joint success. The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine even dedicated a feature to us and other leading college radio shows.

Why am I writing about this now?

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Earlier today, I learned about a possible change coming to WERS that left me speechless, confused, and longing for answers. A LinkedIn post in an Emerson alumni group mentioned this editorial from our Emerson College newspaper. I would be remiss to not comment – especially on a time I feel so strongly about in my life.

The whole point of college radio is that it is a “learning ground” – you explore your interests and have fun, you occasionally make mistakes, you work as a team, and you become more knowledgeable. Being at WERS taught me many of these valuable lessons, which you simply cannot grasp in the classroom. Even though it is a college station, upper management made it clear that WERS.org operates as a professional station with specific behavioral guidelines, and there are expectations towards listeners. I never felt as though it was “simply” a college radio station. I treated my time there as a real journalism job.

LINGERING QUESTIONS & YOUR INPUT

Is hiring a professional host for a college radio station the right step? Are there other underlying reasons for this that we don’t know, but will hear about? Isn’t there a way to educate on-air talent to avoid mishaps or “appalling behavior”? What is the future of radio? Did you take part in college extracurricular activities?

Any WERS alumni want to share their comments?

5 thoughts on “Why I Will Always Love Radio

  1. I used to be an Emerson Mama involved in Parents Leadership Council for four years. It was with a genuine pride and a sense of advocating for a truly remarkable college that I co-developed reach out programs for the incoming students and their parents…

    Some of the many “selling points” were the unique, hands on possibilitilies for the students in the TV studios and the radio stations. I met so many enthusiastic, talented students who went an extra mile to learn and gain experience! All the work at the TV stations, WERS and other radio stations were in addition to the rigorous academic programs and not for credit. Kids got involved because they loved doing it and were hungry for the experience!

    I always thought that they might have learned even more if they were taken seriously and given guidance by a dedicated member of the teaching staff, but they were often left to their own devices and passion (especially the radio kids). Still, they succeeded as many awards for WERS attest.

    Yes, there were – at times- some oopsie daisies – while live on air, but that’s the charm of the student radio stations.
    I hope that Emerson’s new President will not bend under pressure of the Board of Trustees and other power brokers who have mainly a financial bottom line on their minds. A healthy financial condition of the school is one thing, commercialization of the radio is quite something else…

    Emerson used to be a unique place to learn and grow.

    There is a role here for passionate alumni and students to preserve this spirit. Donations are always so welcome to sustain so many programs, so instead of declaring a votum separatum I sincerely hope that alumni will petition the President and have their voices heard. They opened their checkbooks so many times; now – as they are successful media professionals – they should also open their mouths effectively!

    Go Alumni! For the sake of the new generation of the media wizards, speak up!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to chime in, Globetrotter! I really appreciate your input.

      I think the key points that you left me thinking about are that Emerson provides many hands-on opportunities for students no matter what their talents are. Because of those chances, students get to learn and gain important skills they can use in their respective fields. I believe that offering guidance by a professor or advisor would be far more relevant than providing a “professional host.” What good would it do to substitute a professional in? Last I checked it was a college radio station to be “manned” by students and upper management that oversees operations. Being a part of WERS was (to me at least) a privilege and a tremendous responsibility – and above all else, a great learning experience and opportunity to grow while having fun, too.

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