By Dorothy Mai
I’ve never really considered radio as career path for me. However, when I was placed in JRN393 aka Audio Journalism Lab with Terry Sheridan, a door opened up for me. When I came to Stony Brook at a little freshman, I couldn’t have imagined what I was getting myself into by becoming a journalism major. I pretty much assumed I would just have to write all the time, which is true, but that’s just the least of it.
After taking Professor Sheridan’s audio lab class, he offered me an internship at WSHU, which was right off campus. At that point, I was still testing the waters of the audio journalism world, so I told myself to give it a shot. Although not the most glamorous internship, I definitely can say I learned a lot while also have a great experience. A plus to the internship was that I already knew my supervisor because he was my professor. I would have to say that one of the highlights of my experience at WSHU was having Professor Sheridan as somewhat of a mentor. He would be very straight up and honest with you when you were messing up, and let you know when you were doing good. As he is a former 10-10 Wins reporter, he knew exactly what he was doing. His tips and tricks were extremely helpful and when I hear my first broadcast compared to my last, I can tell that his tricks rubbed off on me. I actually sounded like a legit reporter on the radio, compared to the young, high-pitched college student I was at the beginning of my internship.
I have to admit, there were some slow days at the bureau. There were some stories I dreaded reporting on, like stories about real estate and the county’s budgets. As a reporter, I learned to take everything as it hit me and got the job done. I realized that it took me a lot faster to get the stories I was more interested in done than the ones I dreaded.
Some of the more interesting stories I did included a Guatemalan man, who lived in Long Island, got detained and then deported because of President Trump’s intention to end DACA. I also got to report on the DACA protests, MS-13 gang violence, and even murder cases. One thing that was difficult about reporting on MS-13 and the murder cases, was that police kept updating the situation as I was writing my script and voicing. I remember how devastated I was one day at the bureau, when I had just finished editing my voicer and was ready to submit, and my supervisor comes out and tells me that the case was just updated and my story was old news already. Happens a lot in the world of journalism. It was a good lesson to learn, though. As a journalist, we always have to be alert and on our feet, ready for any breaking story at any moment.
Although everyone I worked with at WSHU was always really helpful, there were times where I flew solo for the entire day. There would be weeks where I would get to the office and my supervisor would be in Connecticut, the senior producer was out sick and the other interns were on their way out. In the journalism field especially, you really have to learn how to be independent and only really ask for help when you’re really struggling. Script writing, voicing and editing became second nature to me. There would be some days I would be in and out within an hour and a half because I knew exactly what I was doing and my pieces got approved immediately. There would also be days I was racing against the 4pm deadline trying to put my wraps together. You never knew what was coming for you at the bureau. You just have to mentally prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
It was a bittersweet final day at the bureau. I reported on my last piece, which was about a judge who was moved off a case because she was texting prosecutors from the bench of how to handle to handle a case, which was highly unethical for any judge. I compared it to my first piece at WSHU and realized how much I’ve grown as a radio journalist. I left the bureau for the last time that day and proceeded to make my very own podcast. I had never thought about podcasts before, but working with audio for basically the whole year, it really grew on me. I started to listen to the radio a lot more, and also a lot of interesting podcasts. My podcast is called The Fashion Spot, and the first episode was about the lack of diversity in the fashion industry. I wasn’t expecting such positive feedback from all my friends and professors, but I feel like this internship really opened my eyes to the world of audio journalism and it is definitely something I would consider when I graduate from Stony Brook.