New skills and new insights

  • May 1, 2019

By Margaret Osborne

The WSHU internship was a great introduction to the world of radio. I had always thought I would end up in print journalism, reporting about science and the environment,

and hadn’t considered radio as a career. This internship showed me that I might want to explore audio journalism more deeply. I found that radio is a really powerful and intimate medium for telling a story.

As a whole, I really enjoyed my time at WSHU. Professor Terry Sheridan, who is also WSHU’s news director, and JD Allen, a School of Journalism alum who is WSHU’s afternoon editor, were both extremely helpful and kind, which I appreciated. I learned a lot from them both and was able to improve my audio production skills. They helped me craft short, compelling and concise stories. Professor Sheridan helped me develop a radio voice and showed me some tricks to make voicing easier.

I found that developing a relationship with your editor that works for both of you is important. You have to learn their style of writing and editing and learn how to communicate with them because the editing process will go much more quickly and smoothly.

I liked having a produced story at the end of each day—I was struggling to find enough clips to apply for internships and scholarships, but now I have a lot to choose from. To me, that was an invaluable aspect of the internship, on top of having Terry and JD as resources to learn from about how to write and voice for radio.

The first few weeks were definitely a little bit nerve-wracking. I’ve always been afraid of speaking over the phone, because for me, it’s easier to convince someone to trust me when we’re speaking face-to-face. For this internship, I didn’t have a choice but to make several phone calls a day, and I soon became more at ease calling people up and asking to record them.

Calling sources regularly and asking for interviews right away or within the next few hours was new for me. It was my first time working for a daily news organization with a big name attached to it — NPR. I found that people were quicker to respond than I was used to and would approach us for stories. This is something that takes a while getting used to — people actually WANT to talk to you.

I was frustrated by how long it took me to write and edit a piece in my first few weeks, but I got the hang of it and could soon finish my work a lot more quickly and efficiently. This is something that future interns should know: You will get better!

My favorite part was getting to travel out of the office every once in a while to attend press conferences. I was very nervous at first and made some mistakes, such as not placing my mic in the optimal position and not knowing how to plug into the mult box, but the reporters from other news organizations were very helpful. I ended up seeing some of the same reporters at each conference and talking to them.

I covered some stories that I was passionate about, including a story about 1,4 dioxane in household products. I even got to cover Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaking at the Student Activities Center on the Stony Brook campus.

Some professors and classmates told me they had heard me on the radio. It was exciting to know that people were listening to me. I shared some of my work in my family group chats, and everyone was happy to hear what I was doing at WSHU.

I highly recommend taking this internship. It helped me become a better reporter and writer, and I think as long as you work hard and try to improve, you will benefit from this internship, too.