Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Every student deserves what I had

It’s fair to say I got a lot more from WMUB than I ever gave back to it. As a student employee and newscaster, I gained the technical, social and professional skills which prepared me for a very fulfilling career in broadcasting and, subsequently, media relations. I’m tempted to wax nostalgic here, but that would merely result in me tearing up and constructing a rambling email which may be cathartic for me, but tedious to readers. So I’ll simply thank WMUB and its employees for what they gave me:

· A great paid on-campus job. I was a board operator then chief board operator. The work was rewarding and educational and supplemented (in a few areas eclipsed) the education in broadcasting I was getting as a student in Miami’s then Mass Communications program.

· Friends/mentors. Jim Haskins, Darlene Chafin, Dave Walrod, Bob Long, Dan Conti and others exercised a great deal of patience with me and I never thanked them for it. They can’t possibly know how much they taught me.

· A chance to be a live, on-air broadcaster! As a mediocre student, and socially awkward in Oxford, I had a home at WMUB where I felt appreciated, competent and needed. Bob left me in charge of Morning Edition when he went on vacation one summer and Jim promoted me to chief board operator. Not bad for a shy kid and the first in his blue-collar family to go to college.

· Respect for the audience. I remember well the responsibilities of administering Emergency Broadcast System tones during a tornado warning for Oxford. Being made to write and rewrite a news story until it made sense and actually benefited the listener’s ear. I once did a local break while imitating the host of the national program which happened to be on the air at the time. The General Manager called me in the booth and set me straight. It was a good impression though. Also, live remotes challenged you technically and brought you face-to-face to your audience. Priceless experiences for budding broadcasters.

I was lucky to work there in the ‘90s when public radio stations still had a lot of diverse local programming and strong local identities. Eventually the homogenization of public radio resulted in overlapping NPR/PRI programming which could be heard on multiple stations in the same town. WMUB, perhaps because of its signal strength and geographic location, became a victim of its own gentrification. I’m not encumbered with the responsibility having to balance the books of any organization so I’ll resist the temptation to pass judgment on management decisions I’m not qualified to interpret. But every student deserves the opportunities I had in college. Miami fulfilled its obligation to me largely through WMUB. I’m very grateful for those years. I hope today’s students have something to take its place.

Thanks, friends. I miss you and wish you the best of luck in your next ventures.

--Scott, Columbia SC (former MU and WMUB student)


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