Keep an open mind

  • December 1, 2019

By Wilko Martínez-Cachero Vas

Interning at WSHU Public Radio during my fall semester was a demanding but equally gratifying experience. 

I had taken JRN 393 the semester prior to starting at WSHU, but that only taught me the basics about audio journalism. Yet, that’s not what I initially thought coming into WSHU. I thought the internship would be similar to my audio class, but I could not have been more wrong. It was more dynamic, challenging and ultimately rewarding.

I had gotten a good grade in JRN 393 and had never run into any major issues when writing and voicing scripts for my broadcast classes. In my first week at WSHU, my scripts were basically overhauled, and I was constantly asked to record my voicers over and over. It was a jarring contrast to my experience at school, and I was frustrated over what I considered very minor things. However, I am glad that news director Terry Sheridan took the time to work with me and fix my bad habits. I knew that I was dealing with a real professional, and I always kept an open mind even in those times of frustration. 

Either my voice was too monotone, too exaggerated, too fast or too slow. I really struggled with finding the right balance at first. Of course, I wish that I had nailed my voicing on the first try. Who doesn’t? But having a great teacher and being open to his feedback is a crucial part of life, let alone a job or an internship. 

Terry constantly gave me tips, reminded me of his pointers, and voiced things himself so I could actually hear them and try to use a similar intonation. I am very appreciative of that. Terry initially listened to all of my recordings before letting me start my next assignment. If it wasn’t good, I’d have to do it again. I have always learned better from doing rather than listening or watching, so getting those repetitions in really helped expedite my learning curve.

I eventually found my voice over the course of the semester. It was tough sounding conversational and natural while talking to a microphone, but by the end, I didn’t mind that. Like Terry said, I just need to believe that I am talking to someone—a friend, a girlfriend, a family member, whoever—and it will be much smoother.  

I also want to thank news director J.D. Allen and senior producer Ann Lopez. J.D. and Ann helped massively with my scriptwriting. As I mentioned earlier, it was annoying to have sizeable portions of my scripts rewritten at first. I was not used to that, but I am glad it happened, and I am a better writer for it. 

From not using words that end with “-ing” in radio to making sure there aren’t too many similar-sounding words/syllables to always writing in a way that would be accepted in everyday conversation, every single tidbit of advice helped. I truly believe that I am confident writing for print, video and audio coming out of my internship at WSHU.