Beyond expectations

  • December 1, 2017

By Tim Oakes

Entering the Stony Brook School of Journalism, I exclusively aspired to become a print journalist that wrote for a newspaper or online media organization. But after hearing about the great experiences that my friends had at WSHU Public Radio Group, I curiously applied for the fall internship. 

It was there that I learned that my interests in the vast world of journalism expand beyond just print journalism. Despite hearing good things about the internship from friends, I was still unsure if it would interest me. But under the guidance of the managing editor Terry Sheridan, have found a new passion in radio broadcast journalism.

I learned how to produced short news stories for broadcast on an NPR-affiliated station, which I produced each day I worked in the office. Some of the more interesting stories that I was able to produce include a story on corruption within the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, a story about an alligator being removed from a Long Island home and a story regarding the states promise to invest more money into Long Island’s cancer research community. 

In addition to receiving professional guidance in my script writing and improving on voice for broadcast. Before attending Stony Brook I was a part of WHCP at Nassau Community College, so I had experience on the radio. But under Terry’s tutelage I was able to harness a more professional radio voice that tells a story rather than reciting it. It also kept me busy throughout the each week of the semester, between my duties as sports editor at The Statesman and being a fulltime student and commuter. This position helped me to better balance a busy work schedule.

I also had the privilege to attend several press conferences with some of the community and government leaders in Suffolk County. I collected soundbites first-hand from press conference from County Executive Steve Bellone and Attorney General among others. When we were unable to attend press conferences or needed a sound bite I learned to use the recording booth to record interviews.

While you are working for WSHU and most of your work is aired on that station, it is still affiliated with National Public Radio. If your story is like by the right people, it has the potential to air on NPR main station. But one of the greatest skills I learned was to be able to write radio broadcast scripts quickly, thoroughly and to the point.

At the start of the internship I understood that I would be able to create short stories for broadcast each day, but I was unaware that there was an opportunity to pitch other long-form stories to WSHU and receive compensation. I know this now that I have worked there, but when I started I did not know this was a potential opportunity. While I learned a lot, these longer stories are what separate yourself from the average intern, and knowing this when I entered the internship would be helpful. However, there are still freelancing opportunities that students should take advantage of, and Terry leaves the door open for interns to freelance following the semester you are working as an intern.

I strongly recommend the internship to future SOJ students who are looking to enter radio broadcast journalism or are looking to explore different avenues in the industry as I had prior to my internship. It is important to have diverse experiences in the field of journalism, so stepping outside of print journalism helps diversify your resume. WSHU’s partnership with the School of Journalism is a great way to test out radio broadcast journalism.