Radio conference connects students

By Alexandra Kukulka

Despite last year’s difficult prioritization process, the Radio Department, which President Warrick L. Carter recommended for “combine/restructure resources,” is booming with activity.

The 2012 Midwest Regional High School and College Radio Conference, hosted by the Radio Department Sept. 29 in the 33 E. Congress Parkway Building, brought together panels of alumni, teachers and industry professionals to speak to college and high school students. The conference offered 26 sessions.

Featured speakers included Marina City, a local rock band; Demi Lobo, alumna and on-air talent for WGCI-FM; and J Niice and Julian Nieh from the WBBM-FM morning show.

“We were really thrilled to have so many people participate and to see so much support for radio,” said Barbara Calabrese, Radio Department chairwoman. “I sat in most of the sessions, and I thought that the information that the students were getting was really relevant and current.”

Most of the students at the conference were interested in morning shows, Calabrese said. The department invited Niice and Nieh to speak with students about what it takes to produce these programs.

According to Niice, he and Nieh are spontaneous and on top of current events, which he said are important factors for any

morning show.

Nieh added that radio stations should be connected to social media to help audiences understand what the shows are about.

“You want to test an idea, you want to see if a bit works,” Nieh said. “You post it online and see if you get any comments back.”

After their discussion, the duo presented awards to high school students for their radio broadcasts and coached them before lunch while Marina City performed songs and talked about the group and upcoming shows.

The six band members include Ryan Alan, lead vocals; Brian Johnson, vocals and guitar; Matt Gaudiano, keyboard and vocals; Ray Sutton, lead guitar; Eric Somers-Urrea, drums and Aaron Heiy, bass. All attend Columbia except for Gaudiano.

Lobo shared her struggle to break into the radio business during her panel, Keeping Your Audience Engaged and Connected. After transferring to Columbia from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill., Lobo said she was denied internship opportunities and couldn’t work for WCRX, the college’s student-run radio station, because she just transferred.

However, with help from professors and Tom Joyce, internship coordinator for the Radio Department, she secured an hour-long spot on WCRX and subsequently became an intern at WGCI, where she now works part time.

“An internship is so important,” Lobo said. “I talked to every person on every floor. Everybody knew who I was, [and] I knew everybody.”

Kara Lane, a student at Lyons Township High School, said students left the event feeling inspired.

“I like the variety [of events] that we can choose from,” Lane said. “The people here seem knowledgeable [with] real world experience.”