Internship Experiences

Stephanie Hom, Class of 2015
WYPR, Baltimore
Summer 2012

Before going to college, I remember growing up and listening to National Public Radio with my parents during our car rides. That is why I was so excited to be able to get an internship with Baltimore’s public radio station, WYPR, working with the Midday with Dan Rodricks team for the summer. I started my internship at WYPR in the beginning of June and finished by the end of August. Before this internship, I had never had any experience with radio or production. However, by the end of the program, I became responsible for producing billboards and promos, backing up shows, screening calls and e-mails during live shows, and researching and producing hour-long segments.

During my first couple of weeks at WYPR, I focused on learning the technical skills required to produce a radio show. This meant that I would learn how to use Adobe Audition and the soundboard to record the show’s daily billboards and promos. In order to do so, I sat in on recordings for billboards and promos with the producers and engineers of the Midday with Dan Rodricks show until I became more familiar with the equipment and procedures. After a month’s time, I was able to work with Dan Rodricks by myself to record the day’s billboards and promos. After I finished recording with him, I used Adobe Audition in order to edit the recorded sound clips and mix them down with the correct music bumps. When I finished mixing the files, I would then save them into ENCO—the system used to organize the radio station’s sound bytes—under the correct call number so that they could be used during the live broadcasts. Sometimes the bumps and sound clips used for a certain hour required music that needed to be loaded from a CD. When this happened, I would then need to load the music into Adobe Audition and then edit the music to fit the cut off time for a billboard or promo. Once I finished editing the music, I then had to save the clip under a call number in ENCO and label the file. This was one of the hardest things I had to learn during my time at WYPR. It took me a long time to get used to the different systems before I could finally save and edit everything without looking at my notes trying to remember each hour’s call number. In addition, I had to learn how to adjust the volume for the microphone so when I was mixing the sound byte with music, everything could be heard clearly.

Then, once the show was finished being broadcasted, I would have to backup each segment of the hour by burning them onto a CD. Before burning the CD and saving the file, each segment had to be edited through Audition, which meant that all the advertisements had to be edited out and the beginning and end of each segment had to be faded in and faded out, respectively. Afterword, the edited tracks had to be mixed down into one file and saved as an mp3, so that it could be posted online as a free podcast. Both the CD and mp3 file also had to be labeled with the date, hour number, and name of the show, so that if that broadcast is needed in the future, it can be easily found. Although this was a very tedious job, I learned the importance of backing up each show, since it was always possible that the staff might use a certain hour to be rebroadcasted. Therefore, when checking the clips for specific references, it would be easier to pull the sound byte from the CD rather than having to hours at a time listening to the DAT tapes of a show.

Once I became more confortable navigating ENCO and using Audition, I decided that I wanted to learn more about the systems and the other ways in which it was used for broadcast radio. The staff was very willing to teach me more. I learned how to edit and save past broadcasts into their designated call number for rebroadcasts. The process for editing and saving the past broadcasts is a little different from saving a regular show. First, I had to listen to the show that would be rebroadcasted—paying attention and noting specific references to dates or special events. The goal was to make sure the hour sounded like it was actually live. Once, the show has been checked, all references that were noted down had to be edited out in Audition. Finally, once the edits are done, each segment of the show had to be saved and loaded individually into the ENCO system under the correct call number for its rebroadcast. From editing past broadcasts, I learned how to edit the sound clips by listening for continuity and flow. It was great to experience the difference between editing video and editing sound.

Besides being responsible for some of the technical part of production, I also helped to screen calls and e-mails during live broadcasts and keep up with the show’s social media (ie: Twitter and Facebook). I learned how to communicate with callers and distinguish between thought provoking question or comments from callers that would only lead to on air issues. Moreover, I had to be able to edit e-mails and comments so that everything made sense and was easy for Dan Rodricks to read on air. Although answering phones and reading emails does not seem like a difficult task, I learned how to multitask and do things in the most efficient way possible. This skill was definitely needed since sometimes there would be a very busy hour when all the phone lines would be busy and listeners would send in a bunch of e-mails throughout the show.

Toward the end of the summer, I was given the opportunity to research and produce my own hour. This required me to read a book about the nonprofit organization Year Up, take thorough notes on each chapter, produce my own set of questions, and write a script that would be read during the intro to the live broadcast. The script would include a paragraph for the billboard, a live intro to the show, a throw to break, and a return from break. The throw to break would have to raise questions for the audience to prompt them to call in or send in e-mails and the return from break would quickly reintroduce the hour’s topic and the next topic of discussion.  I had never written a script like this before, so it was a great learning experience. Through producing, I learned how to be as concise as possible and how to write in a way that would hook the listener into the conversation. I look forward to applying what I learned into future internships and classes.

In addition to the responsibilities I was given, I was also given the opportunity to go live on air with Dan Rodricks to discuss this summer’s movies. It was an amazing experience that I never thought would have been possible. In order to prep for the hour, I had to watch the movies that were out in theaters, take notes, write a short synopsis, and give a rating value. I would be giving my opinion on seven movies and talking about it with a fellow intern and Chris Reed from Stevenson University. Through this experience I learned what it was like to sit in studio as opposed to sitting in the sound room answering calls and reading e-mails. I also saw the difficulty of hosting a show live on air since there was only a certain amount of time doled out for each segment. The host had to be organized and lead the conversation in a smart way so that each topic of discussion would connect.

I would definitely recommend this internship to other students. If you are unsure of what stage of production you want to be a part of, it is a great opportunity to try out all the different jobs and responsibilities. Moreover, the internship is very hands-on, which means that you will get a chance to do more than fetch coffee or organize papers—something that is most likely expected from a bigger named radio station. As long as you are ambitious and willing to try different things, the staff at Midday with Dan Rodricks at WYPR is more than accommodating and willing to teach you more than what is required. There is simply no limit to the responsibilities you may hold at WYPR. In addition, the Midday with Dan Rodricks show has a great team of people who are friendly, welcoming, and always willing to offer advice or answer questions. You will also be able to work closely with the host and the producers of the show. It is also a great opportunity to become more aware of the current events and political issues going on around Baltimore and in the state of Maryland.

Lastly, as an intern you are given the opportunity to be a part of the staff production meetings. This means that you will be able to voice any ideas that you may have for a future hour. If your ideas are well received, you will be given the responsibility to produce your own hour where you decide the direction of the topics and conversation. It is a great position to be creative and learn the basics of production and an amazing experience to put onto your résumé.

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