“Realizing things” at WSHU

By Neda Karimi

Towards the end of the spring 2018 semester, I opened an email from Professor Selvin about an internship opportunity at WSHU. I listen to podcasts every day and thought that I could do radio. I wanted to intern over the summer, but due to complications and prior commitments, I wasn’t able to do that. Early in August, I got an email from Terry Sheridan, the station’s news director, asking if I was still interested in an internship.

I never took audio journalism, so I came into the internship in the fall knowing nothing. I’m also not a huge fan of my own voice. When I first started, the office was going through a transition. Terry was based mostly out of Connecticut, and due to my schedule, I had to change my hours from four hours two days a week, to just an eight-hour Friday. Fridays were dead, so I guess now that I look back, I might have had a more fulfilling internship experience if I had kept my original hours, but I didn’t know this was the case when I changed them.

I worked on stories about many issues on Long Island, such as housing prices, a new library, the Long Island Rail Road, MS13, weather, and sexual abuse claims. Early on , I reported on the Bayport Blue-Point Library’s plans to buy the St. Ursula Center, which was a home for retired nuns. My last piece ended up being on the same topic, except this time residents voted to authorize the purchase and the estimated tax hike was released.  Since I hadn’t taken audio journalism, my biggest struggle was translating a larger story into a couple of sentences that would read well on radio. Condensing is something I learned to do over the course of my internship. I also got more familiar with Adobe Audition, which was helpful because I ended up using it in my other classes as well.

I wish I had known that doubting myself while walking into the recording booth wouldn’t help me. Instead of walking in there confident about my ability to read a short script, I overthought and stuttered after each word. One day, I stayed in there for over an hour. The other interns thought I was having a heat stroke. No matter what I did, I just couldn’t get myself to sound conversational. Then one day I recorded my boss reading my script to himself, and copied his voice exactly. That worked for one voicer, but then the next time I tried it, I ended up sounding like a robot. I re-recorded, and Terry actually preferred the version where I was just reading the script myself rather than copying the voice note on my phone, line by line.

I felt limited because I relied mostly on using other people’s scripts as outlines rather than actually having a clear idea of what I was doing. I learned a lot, but at some points, I felt like I was behind because I didn’t have any experience. It felt like I was supposed to know things I never learned. This probably would have been different if I worked a different day when Terry was in the Stony Brook office instead of at the station headquarters in Fairfield, Connecticut, because there’s not much you can do when you’re an entire state away.

If you are an SOJ student considering this internship, practice voicing your scripts before walking into the booth, and most important, take audio journalism. Late in my internship, I realized that radio journalism and podcasting aren’t as similar as I had thought. I learned that radio journalism isn’t for me, and that’s okay. I know that sounds discouraging and people are supposed to say things like “practice makes perfect” or “keep trying,” but trying is draining. Some people just have it, and as someone who would cry if a teacher called on her in kindergarten, I do not.