HISTORY & MISSION
Located in Purdue’s Elliott Hall of Music, the award-winning WBAA public radio station has made a name for itself nationally. It was licensed in April 1922 as an AM station by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Still going strong after 97 years, WBAA is now the longest continuously operating radio station in Indiana. Over the years, WBAA has offered internship opportunities to hundreds of local students, ranging from high schoolers to undergraduates and graduate students. The public radio station’s website says, “education has always been at the heart of WBAA’s mission and that goes beyond the content you hear over our airwaves and into the very ethos of the station” (WBAA). The best part is that they’re especially interested in Purdue undergraduates majoring in English, Communications, or Political Science!
Interning at WBAA is a great experience for English majors, especially those interested in journalism. Its News department offers general news, arts, beat, education, science, and local government reporting, as well as digital reporting. At WBAA, you are not just an intern; you are a professional. “We’re going to treat you like a real, working radio station employee, whether it’s in the newsroom or whether it’s doing production work behind the scenes,” says Stan Jastrzebeski, WBAA’s News Director, “You’re not going to get coffee.”
All internships at WBAA are paid, offer real, deadline-driven experience, and allow for hands-on time with professional reporting, writing, editing, or voicing. WBAA offers experience to Purdue undergraduates of any year; the longer you stay, in fact, the better opportunities for internships and jobs after you graduate. Stan says, “It typically takes at least a semester to fully train somebody to get used to the job. Then, the second semester they can hit the ground running.”
Interns at WBAA typically come in one day a week. The goal is to have one intern every day to go and report on moment’s notice, according to Stan. This allows each intern to give a little bit to the internship program and contribute to the whole of the newsroom over a week. Depending on your schedule, WBAA will give you ample time to work without too much pressure.
Stan says, “We make a difference in the community, we pay better than any other broadcasting internship in town, and we turn students into award-winning reporters.”
MARISSA TILDEN, ENGLISH
One of WBAA’s newest hires is Marissa Tilden, a third-year student studying English Literature and Comparative Literature. At the station, her title is “Public Service Announcement Coordinator.” Along with writing PSAs for upcoming community events, Marissa also does other small organizational tasks, such as creating a calendar of events for various musical organizations in the community. Her PSAs are aired on the station often. Here is an example of her work:
“Purdue’s Disability Resource Center presents comedian Ryan Niemiller (NEE-miller), the self-proclaimed ‘Cripple Threat of Comedy,’ whose stand-up draws from his experiences with physical disability. Open to the public but tickets are required. More information is available at Purdue dot E-D-U slash D-R-C.”
This is a great example of a PSA because it demonstrates how Marissa has to be “conscious of the fact it will be read aloud.” She adds, “It’s necessary to provide phonetic pronunciations of names that could pose a challenge (and therefore a lull or stutter), as well as clarify things like the URL.” Otherwise, a story or PSA could be read wrong on-air. Greg Kostraba, WBAA’s content director, told Marissa that once at another radio station, “Malcolm X” had been read on-air as “Malcolm the tenth.” “It’s crucial to keep both the audience and the reader in mind when I write,” says Marissa.
“WBAA has provided me the opportunity to practice some of the skills I learn as an English major—things like precise writing, research, and organization—in a career setting,” Marissa also says. This internship has also enabled her to learn a little more about how a radio station operates and what kinds of positions exist in this setting. Marissa has found that there are lots of opportunities for English majors in radio.
CARLY ROSENBERGER, MASS COMMUNICATION
A sophomore studying mass communication, Carly Rosenberger has always been interested in a career in news media. She has been working at WBAA since September 2018 and has written a total of eight stories as an arts and culture intern. Carly produces features, which are pre-recorded stories that are typically no longer than five minutes on-air. “Creating a feature is a complicated process…. I’ve learned more from [it] than I could have ever imagined,” says Carly.
WBAA has entrusted Carly with many responsibilities, including setting up and conducting interviews, writing a draft of a script, recording the script, and sharing the final product on WBAA’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Carly says, “When I first began working at WBAA last fall, I was honestly surprised with the amount of trust and responsibility the staff places in their interns. I’ve since realized that the large amount of responsibility is affirming and even rewarding. I’d much rather have an internship that allows me to produce meaningful work than one that forces me to do menial tasks.”
OTHER INTERNSHIPS WITH WBAA
Stan has also provided us with descriptions for several other WBAA internships:
If you are interested in classical music, WBAA has another great internship for you. With 101.3 FM, WBAA Classical, students aid in the station’s programming as well as taping interviews. This internship is a great opportunity for those interested in learning about media management.
If you are tech-savvy, on the other hand, WBAA offers internships covering board shifts, allowing them to practice one of the essential functions of a broadcaster. WBAA will train you in both the technical duties and how to use your voice effectively for an audience.
WBAA also has internships in promotions, marketing, and development. To keep the radio station going strong, WBAA needs young, talented people to help it reaching new audiences.
Finally, WBAA just hired its first social media intern, and so internship opportunities at the station just keep growing. “Anytime anyone wants to send me a resume, they are more than welcome to do so,” says Stan. His email is email@example.com.
“Student Engagement.” WBAA, https://www.wbaa.org/student-engagement#stream/0.
“WBAA History.” RSS, https://www.wbaa.org/topic/wbaa-history#stream/0.
Libby Joson is a sophomore majoring in Professional Writing at Purdue.