By Frank Gargano
Interning at WSHU, especially during the coronavirus epidemic (which I hope you reading this don’t ever have to go through), was challenging but extremely rewarding.
My experience with audio journalism prior to WSHU was basic to semi-intermediate. The semester before my internship, I was enrolled in Beat Reporting, and my professor pushed us to do stories that went beyond the print medium. My classmates and I produced podcasts, video packages and more. Since I was on the track for print journalism and have an aversion to doing stand-ups, I decided to go the podcast route. Being able to work on script writing in that class was so helpful. I quickly realized that it’s a completely different beast than traditional story writing.
When the internship fair came around, I made it a mission to speak to Professor Sheridan (or Terry, as I came to know him through interning) and find out more about WSHU and what they did. Instead of a traditional interview, we had a conversation about podcasting and broadcast journalism. I got hooked. I had interned other places before, both local and national news outlets, but radio was something I hadn’t done. So, while taking two classes involving semester-long reporting projects, one of them being the senior capstone course, I decided that I wanted to work for WSHU. By the way, I don’t advise trying to balance that kind of courseload and an internship in one semester. You’re gonna end up hating yourself.
I have to applaud everyone who worked there for being patient with me and showing me the ropes. Every time I had a question, J.D. Allen, Terry Sheridan, Jay Shah, Des D’Iorio or Ann Lopez were there to help me. Whether it was reading through a script to get the tone right or running through my vocals to get that “NPR voice,” I never felt scared to ask a question or for help.
What I thought was a “good” podcasting/radio voice and what actually is a “good” voice were two different things, and I realized that really quickly. My first voiced script was deemed “too newsy,” which was completely right as I had recently finished a broadcast class. Something you’ll learn is that NPR tone is more conversational and relaxed, especially depending on the tone of the piece.
But enough rambling. Here are some things to keep in mind as you move through WSHU. One, despite the relaxed feel, remember that it’s a professional organization that broadcasts throughout Long Island and Connecticut. The clips you get from here are going to propel you further in your career and show others how good you really are at what you do. Two, keep the style guide handy for the first week or two. The styling of readers and voicers may seem a bit weird or confusing at the start, but once you do enough of them, it becomes almost second nature.
Three, always bring spares of things and check equipment before heading out to report. As Irene Virag always used to tell me from my wee days as a freshman in the J-school, “technology will fail you.” Bring extra batteries, extra cables, whatever. If you always assume something is going to fail, you’ll never be underprepared. And fourth, don’t forget to enjoy yourself. You’re getting to go out and cover some really cool stuff and work with your friends while doing so.
This internship will make you a better speaker, a better reporter and a better person, to be honest. And if you mess up, it’s not the end of the world. Just know that we’ve all been in your shoes and that you’ve got great mentors behind you every step of the way.