– Queen, ‘Radio Ga Ga’
(Before I begin this post, let me just say: WOW, it feels so good to be back! I’ve had to take a bit of a break from blogging lately to focus my energy on other endeavors; last semester, my classes required me to spend all of my spare time studying and working on group projects, and this semester’s internship has changed my sleep schedule — and my life — completely. But I’ll get to that.)
Monday morning, 3:45 AM. One of the four alarms I have set on my phone begins blaring what would normally be considered a fairly pleasant tune; however, when being woken up at 3:45 AM, any loud sound — no matter how pleasant — is absolutely awful.
My hands fumble with the phone’s screen, my bleary eyes adjusting slowly to its blinding white light. Just as I’m silencing my phone, my analog alarm clock across the room begins beep-beep-beeping incessantly. Nothing gets you out of bed quite as quickly as does your exhausted body’s longing for peace and quiet.
I sit back down on my bed, curling up in my comforter so as to shield myself from my frigid room. My eyes stay fixed on the clock.
3:47 AM. When did I fall asleep again? 11:30? Midnight?
Ah, the glamorous life of a morning radio show’s production intern.
Now is probably a good time to explain how exactly I found myself living the life of a hybrid between a night owl and an early bird.
As you may know from some of my previous posts, I’d been involved in our campus radio station, Radio 1851, since my freshman year. Last semester Radio 1851 put together a networking lunch, to which radio professionals from the Philadelphia area would come to talk about their careers as DJs, salespeople, production managers, promotions executives, programmers, and more.
If we’re being honest, I’d almost completely forgotten about the lunch; I left class on that Thursday at 10:45 and promptly headed home with the intention of napping before my next obligation.
And then the Radio 1851 group text started blowing up with messages about people heading to the event. I really should go, I thought to myself. I am a part of this, after all.
But rather than dressing business casual (whatever that means), I kept on what I was already wearing: a ’70s-inspired outfit that included a Bee Gees t-shirt, a pair of bell-bottom jeans with a rainbow design stitched down the left leg, and beaten-up gray Converse.
Whatever, I repeated over and over in my head, trying to convince myself that my attire was okay. This is who I am. If they don’t like it, that’s fine. Plus, when am I going to see any of these people again anyway?
Well, that answer ended up being pretty frequently. Actually, almost daily.
No sooner did I stand up to leave after the question-and-answer portion of the lunch had ended when a woman appeared in front of me (I still have no idea how she got there so fast).
“Hi, I’m Shelly from 92.5 XTU. What’s your name? What year are you?”
“Danielle, Danielle Zabielski. I’m a junior,” I replied apprehensively, secretly waiting for her to berate me for dressing in denim rather than in a blazer and pencil skirt.
“Well, Danielle, I want you to work for me. I want to hire you.”
Let’s just say my jaw is still sore from hitting the floor.
As we walked to the front table so she could give me her business card, I blurted out, “Can I just ask: what is it that made you want me out of all these very professional people? Like, here I am in jeans and sneakers — I look like I just stepped out of Dazed and Confused. What’s the appeal? Just curious.”
She looked me in the eye and said in the most confident and assured voice I’ve ever heard, “I can tell you’re driven. The way you payed attention to all of us speak — you were expressive, made eye contact, nodded your head — shows you really want this. I can tell you want to learn, and you’re a quick learner. And — don’t take this the wrong way — you’re a little off-kilter. You’re a creative; I can tell by your clothes.”
She paused, then added, “I just want you to know, I don’t do this often. But if I see something special in someone… well, I seize that opportunity.”
I really almost cried, right then and there. Who would have thought that by simply being myself I could land an internship? Certainly not I.
“Wait, back up a second, Danielle. Did you say 92.5 XTU? Isn’t that… isn’t that a country station?”
It absolutely is. And I know, you’re probably going to say that you can’t see me ever working in country radio — because that’s literally what every single person I know said.
When I was offered the internship and found out it was at a country station — I’m not going to lie — I was a bit disillusioned. If I’d ever envisioned myself working in radio, it was as a DJ on a classic rock station spinning my favorite Zeppelin records or talking about the Rolling Stones’ latest tour.
But I harkened back to some wise words I’d heard during that radio networking event: if you truly love working in radio, then the genre of the individual station you’re at shouldn’t matter. What’s more important is having a passion for the medium itself; simply liking the content of your station isn’t enough to make a job in radio worthwhile.
And it has most definitely been worthwhile. I’ve been exploring sound mixing and editing, honing my writing skills, and even dabbling in events with the promotions department. One of my favorite memories, though, came just after the first day of my internship….
…But I’ll save that for next time. Until then, remember this:
- Seize your opportunities. You never know who you’re going to meet.
- Pay attention. You never know who will notice, and what you’ll learn.
- Try new, unexpected things. You never know what you’ll end up loving.
- Be yourself. You never know who will love you for it.