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Student Scholars Program Boosts Next Generation

Hear from five students about what they learned and why they love radio

In 2015, the Radio Show Student Scholars program was such a success that in 2016, it was expanded to 229 college undergraduate and graduate students.

Students awarded registration scholarships were invited to attend the NAB Educational Foundation/Broadcast Education Association Career Fair and Student Scholars Orientation that kicked off before the 2016 Radio Show began the following day in Nashville. This program garnered the support of 28 radio groups and associated businesses.

Amelia Young I wanted to know how these student scholars were affected by what they saw, heard and learned in Music City. I spoke with five to find out why they wanted to be in radio, what they learned at the convention, what surprised them and where they want to take radio in the future.

I interviewed Garrett Britton from Edmonds, Wash.; Brianna Keen from Clarksville, Tenn.; Natalie Melcher from Bowling Green Ky.; Stefano Roman from Boone, N.C.; and Amelia Young from Brentwood, Tenn. — all of whom received a scholarship to attend the convention. They also received financial assistance from a school, state broadcast association or sponsoring radio company to cover their air, hotel and other expenses.

Each of the students with whom I spoke saw the magical powers of connecting with others via radio and that was what drew them to want a career in radio.

Brianna Keen Garrett said listening to “Brooke and Jubal” on KQMV(FM) in Seattle was what attracted him to radio. “Every single morning they had me laughing, cracking up and always putting me in a good mood,” he said.

Brianna said her dad birthed her love of music with her first Sony Walkman. He became her music buddy, and radio was the way they discovered new music.

For Natalie, the light went off in her head when she had to write a paper in high school about what career she wanted to pursue after graduation. She had never focused on a single career path before, and after giving it a lot of thought, she decided she wanted to become a radio broadcaster.

Stefano played in bands and getting on the radio is a goal every musician dreams about. Besides, said Stefano, radio is fun.

Amelia caught the radio bug working this summer with an internship at the Seacrest Studio at a local hospital. Parents would tell her their child had been having an awful day, but the radio studio made it better, something even the doctors couldn’t do sometimes.

Garrett told me he learned that radio is on the verge of a new horizon with lots of programs coming into radio and lots of different channels to deliver them, things like NextRadio, CarPlay, Android Audio and podcasting.

Brianna said she learned how competitive the radio field is and that having a mentor is important.

Natalie said she has a clear picture of what industry professionals are looking for when they’re hiring and how important mentoring is to advancing in the radio business.

Stefano learned to be passionate about the work you do and to never fear failure — it’s inevitable, everyone fails and it’s part of the learning process.

Amelia really appreciated the sessions that were especially geared towards the student scholars that talked about how to handle yourself in interviews, on the job and on paper.

Garrett quickly said that personal branding was critical. You have to be comfortable with your ego and clearly define who you are; not just for yourself but your listeners too. As in real estate where it’s “location, location, location,” for the radio personality it’s “branding, branding, branding.”

Natalie Melcher Brianna said she was surprised to learn how much of a growing field radio broadcasting is, despite the popularity of online radio. She said that many people tell her radio is dying, and the Radio Show demonstrated to her that radio is full of innovation, which keeps it relevant and up to date with changing technology.

Natalie said she learned the importance of networking and how to confidently walk up to someone and market herself.

Stefano said he was surprised to find out that radio professionals are so easy to talk to and are so willing to help a college student in their career aspirations to get into radio.

Amelia said she loved making lots of contacts. All of the student scholars quickly grasped that it’s as much who you know as what you know.

Garrett said he feels he will take radio online, specifically in the direction of podcasting.

Brianna says radio’s future is in streaming to every device that can receive an audio signal. “Streaming is such an essential aspect of convenience these days, and people are all about what’s easiest,” she said.

Stefano Roman Natalie said she wants to refurbish an Airstream trailer and create a traveling radio station that she can broadcast from as she travels all over the country. She also thinks it’s important to stream, have an app, and she especially loves the NextRadio chip activated in her smartphone because it gives her the capability to carry radio with her wherever she goes. Plus, podcasting allows broadcasters to archive their programs for on-demand listening.

Stefano agreed that streaming and podcasting hold lots of potential but added that the successful ones will be backed by great talent.

Amelia said she plans to use her new professional contacts to inspire her to pursue her radio career.

The Radio Show Student Scholars program was an excellent way of bringing fresh new talent together with the industry that needs it. Each of the students with whom I talked said how inspired they were by attending and how excited it made them to be working towards a career in the radio industry.

Stefano put it best: “Radio is alive and well, and will continue to adapt to the upcoming future.”