Finding her voice

  • December 1, 2017

By Gabriella Shtanko

My time at WSHU public radio was far from what I expected.

I had pictured myself grabbing anchors coffee and doing research on stories that no one else wanted to do, however the only time I grabbed coffee was when my responsibilities were draining me.

WSHU didn’t treat me like an intern; they treated me like a new reporter. Every day when I walked into the office I was given a story to work on, an aspect of the story to stress, and a 30-second time frame to make sure our listeners would grasp the entire story with out losing interest.

It’s much more difficult than it sounds.

The beginning was rough. Switching from editorial writing to extremely succinct, short, non-descriptive sentences was not a smooth transition for me. I struggled with the feeling that something was always missing from my story.

As time went on and I became more aware of what my editors wanted I understood why everything was easier when it was straight to the point and only mentioned the most important details.

I learned very early on that just because I may receive A’s on most of my work in class, does not mean that my editors wouldn’t find a mistake in every piece of work that I do.

There were times that my entire piece would be re-arranged and lines would be disregarded and my ego had to overcome it.

Once I mastered understanding what my editors wanted in terms on content, I struggled with finding my voice, not in terms of writing, but my physical radio voice.

“Try to not sound like you’re reading.”

“Try not to sound like you’re from Long Island, but don’t completely lose the accent.”

 “Try not to run out of breath.”

It was exhausting taking all of the critiques and still not mastering my voice. Eventually I received a piece of advice that made it all click.

“Just tell the story,” said Terry Sheridan.

I did just that.

After I got my voice once, I knew exactly what to do, how to move my mouth, how to say each word every time, recording stories became easy.

What started as my least favorite part of my position became my favorite.

The stories I covered at WSHU news were never “Breaking News,” or extremely exciting. They were local, mundane stories about senators and legislation that had to be made interesting by making them relatable to listeners.

This internship taught me about the real world of journalism.

There were often times that I had two hours to report, write up and voice a story meanwhile a source wouldn’t return a call.

There were times when my editor wasn’t at the office or he was on air and couldn’t edit my piece and so I became a sitting duck.

One of my favorite days at WSHU was in the very first month of working there. I covered Hurricane Harvey, the tropical cyclone that hit Houston.

That was the first national piece I had ever done, and it was aired on an NPR station.

The greatest thing that I learned during my time at WSHU is take and apply the advice given to you. Any piece of advice given during my internship significantly helped me in my work at WSHU, in school and in life.

My time at WSHU validated that radio is my passion.

I went into the journalism school believing I wanted to be a TV network anchor, now I know I want to be a radio anchor.

Being an intern gives a taste of the real world while still having a hand to hold when lost.

WSHU, thank you.