By Katarina Delgado
In a space no bigger than two dorm rooms, Stony Brook University School of Journalism students now have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with top public radio journalists.
In 2016, the school partnered with WSHU Public Radio Group, an NPR member station, to provide internship opportunities for its students and deliver more local news to Long Island listeners, all part of the station’s new Long Island News Bureau.
Students work under the guidance of WSHU News Director Dan Katz and veteran New York City and Long Island radio reporter Terry Sheridan.
“This internship makes the Stony Brook radio program one of the best in the region,” Sheridan said.
Two students have started their year-long paid supervisory positions, while three others have begun semester-long internships at the station’s bureau, located just a short walk from campus.
WSHU Public Radio Group began broadcasting classical music and NPR News on Long Island in 1987, and features popular NPR programing such as Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as its own regional news coverage.
Inside the new station, a small sign bearing its name – “little WSHU House” – sits in the corner. There are several desks and computers equipped with reporting and recording capabilities. A conference room for morning meetings and occasional training workshops provides a touch of the classroom experience. The finishing touch is a sound booth, no bigger than a closet, where the reporters put finishing touches on pieces that will likely air.
The invaluable experience has so far paid off. After only four short weeks, all of the students have been able to get at least one of their pieces on the air.
“They are doing better than anyone could have imagined,” Katz said.
“Although we are still learning a lot of the craft, or the trade, of radio,they already see us as journalists,” said Allen, a student supervisor. “It’s not an internship as much as it is reporting,” intern Joseph Ryder said.
Allen and Opatich recounted one of their first days on the job. They initially planned to attend orientation, but then the Grumman story broke and the reporters were suddenly on their way to a press conference held by New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“Day one you need to go interview the man who might become the minority leader of the U.S. Senate. One of the most powerful men in the U.S. Senate,” Opatich said. “It was really invigorating and at the end of the day we just thought ‘that was awesome.’”
Allen recalls driving home afterwards, sitting at the edge of his bed and asking himself: “What just happened?”
Their editor, Sheridan, feels the students have been more than ready to handle whatever WSHU has thrown their way.
“I think the Stony Brook program is phenomenal,” Sheridan, the WSHU assignment editor, said. “The five students that I have right now are great. They are well prepared, well-educated and motivated.”
Katz encouraged students interested in working with the station to take advantage of the courses provided by Stony Brook. Since the partnership began, enrollment in the school’s radio course has doubled, as more students seek the opportunity to work at the station
“I want to see really curious people, “Katz said. “Somebody who is always thinking.”
Howard Schneider, Dean of the School of Journalism, said, “This is a terrific opportunity for our students to become career ready and to do journalism that matters.”
Listen to their latest reports here.