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We’re On The Air: A Radio Station Internship

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by Robert Ely

 

When I started college a few years ago, I was encouraged to apply for an internship in my career field. Even if I decided not to work in the field I was interning in, it was something that I could at least cross off my list. So, this semester I elected to finally embark on my chosen career path enroll for an internship credit.

Because I am currently a Mass Communications student, I could go in many directions. After putting out internship applications nearly everywhere in the area, I ended up with Clear Channel Broadcasting and the radio station 970 WFLA. While I hadn’t intended on going into radio, I figured this could be a lot of fun. Working at a radio station? Sounds pretty cool, right?

To those who are interested but still unsure of an internship, I can tell you with all confidence, now that I have completed the internship, it is not only rewarding, but at least in my case a lot of fun as well.

I have interned the last few months on the radio program AM Tampa Bay, which runs from five to nine in the morning.  My Mondays start at four in the morning and walking out the door a half hour later. You’d be surprised how fast you can get across the bay area around this time. The people at AM Tampa Bay are awesome and friendly. While it is a professional operation, the station is a laid-back work environment. Working in the news and getting information to people, even as someone behind the scenes, is rewarding. Plus, it was interesting to see how news and radio unfolds.

For my internship, my duty was to update the blog and social media and to cut audio and promos for the show when needed. During the show, I would research additional information pertaining to the topic being discussed on air and then I would share this information online. If a clip of audio was needed for a contest or segment, I had to find it and cut it up to go on air. It was very rewarding experience for me as I came to understand the speed at which these things needed to be done and how to actually work a soundboard and record and edit audio.

As time passed, more and more responsibility was bestowed on me. At first, I just had to cut promo audio with each host for the next day and update the blog. Since then, I’ve developed questions for our hosts to ask guests, written dialogue for audio that would be played on air, and learned how to run a syndicated show. For those students who are in the Mass Communications field, you can understand and appreciate the opportunity for hands-on experience.

By far the most interesting aspect working at a news source is when something significant happens. For me, the biggest news story when I was there was the recent tragic events in Boston. When the two young suspects were on the run on that Friday morning and Boston went into lockdown, I realized how quickly work needs to be done when things change. Our show went on the air at 5:00am and had to change guests on the fly, get correct information on these rapidly updating events, and move quickly to get a show put together as it was happening.

In summary, my interning experience was rewarding and illuminating. It was beneficial because I could actually see first-hand how the field I want to go into actually works, rather than just hearing about it in lectures and reading about it in books. This first-hand experience gave me a very important perspective before I finish my degree. I’m not sure if I will work in radio, but I know that I am far more interested than I was before and I now have skills that go beyond that of just radio. Knowing how to cut audio and write for social media and more is an asset for many aspects of Mass Communications, first-hand knowledge that I would not have had without this internship.

I cannot impress upon students enough the importance of seeking out an internship in your field. I think you will be very glad you did.

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