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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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#AwayFromTheNest: Grace Palo, Junior Reporter

WMAL internship allows student to perfect her skills in radio

AU students are on the go year-round, and that only intensifies as the temperature gets warmer and the spring semester ends. From political conventions in California to volunteer trips in South America and beyond, summer takes students away from AU and into the world around them. This summer, the Eagle is launching a summer series chronicling their adventures. Join us as we publish a new story weekly on how students are spending their summer #AwayFromTheNest before they return to campus in the fall.

Rising senior Grace Palo is enjoying her summer with an internship at the radio station WMAL, a political and news broadcast station serving the D.C. and Washington metro area. The job is helping Palo gain valuable skills for her double major in broadcast journalism and political science, and is giving her a sense of the real-life time crunch of news radio. Last week, The Eagle had a chance to talk radio, politics and deadlines with Palo over e-mail as part of our #AwayFromTheNest summer series.

EAGLE: What motivated you to take on this internship this summer?

GP: Well, I started this internship because it was such a great opportunity. A lot of internships I've noticed are really just getting coffee or shadowing people, which don't get me wrong, you learn a lot doing that, but here I'm actually doing the things I want to do when I graduate. I interview people, I pitch story ideas, I write news stories for our website and that air on the radio. It was just too good of an opportunity to pass up in terms of learning and getting experience.

EAGLE: What skills are you hoping to gain from your internship?

GP: I have a hard time interviewing people, so that's my biggest focus. I really want to learn how to have a pointed, successful interview that I know I'm going to be happy with when it's over. I tend to get anxious and flustered and forget my focus when I'm asking questions, so I'm hoping to improve that here. Plus, working on a turn around rate is helpful. Radio has a deadline every hour, so I need to be productive and do it well, quickly.

EAGLE: What are you hoping to explore in the field of radio?

GP: Right now I'm learning about political news radio shows, which is pretty cool. Eventually I want to learn more about being a radio music DJ and breaking into more general radio shows. I don't know what focus I want to take yet in radio, but I really enjoy being here and learning everything I can. There's so many options to go with that I don't see myself being disappointed with whatever I learn.

EAGLE: How will this internship build on what you’ve learned at AU?

GP: Well, this semester I took a class called Digital Audio Production, and I can honestly say that if I had not taken this class before I started here, I would have fallen flat on my face. Writing 30 second news stories and sticking to a time limit, but doing it productively and nailing the points you want to hit is a lot harder than it seems. A lot of my journalism classes at AU have taught me the style of writing or the focuses I need to have, but really being here and having the deadlines and need to be done quickly has really made me apply what I've learned at AU to my job.

EAGLE: What excites you about being able to work in radio?

GP: I like the flexibility and the infinite options. It’s not like a TV news story where I need footage of each person or story. Sometimes setting up in person interviews or getting to a specific site is extremely difficult or impossible in the time limit that you have, but radio gives a lot more flexibility. Like, for example, I interviewed Gary Sinise (Lt. Dan from Forrest Gump) before Memorial Day weekend! I never would have been able to set up an in person interview with him with the hectic schedule, but he found time for a 10 minute phone interview. It was just a really awesome opportunity, and because it was a phone interview and not somewhere specific, we ended up varying enough for me to have two stories that went in completely different directions.

EAGLE: Have you held any other internships? If yes, how is this one different?

GP: This is my first time interning in a radio/journalism style workplace. I've really focused on my Political Science side before this year, interning at Americans for Tax Reform and on Capitol Hill in the House, so this is completely different. Radio is political, but in a unbiased sort of way. We're covering the stories and interviewing people, we're not pushing any agendas. It's also more laid back than my political internships have been, which being a busy college kid makes me infinitely happier.

Grace Palo is a rising senior in both the School of Public Affairs and the School of Communication.

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