The End

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As summer draws to a close, so does my time at SPR.  This Friday will be my final day interning at the station.  While I’m already sad to leave, I know that I have learned many valuable lessons and skills that I will take with me in my future career.

Looking back, it seems silly that I was so nervous to start that first week, but starting after one of the busiest days for the station (the One and Done Pledge Drive) — and on a Friday (what college student wants to give up her Friday afternoons?) — along with the fact that I thought of the staff as mini celebrities made me a giant ball of nerves.   

Soon, however, I began to enjoy this break in my college life.  For starters, just getting off campus (in my three years at Gonzaga I rarely ventured past Nora Ave), meeting new people, and knowing about events occurring around Spokane made me feel like I was finally independent.  Then, I began to enjoy learning about all of the different aspects that go into making a radio station function and I finally started talking to and getting to know the staff.

They are what I will miss the most about this experience.  Whether it was trying to track down Verne to get the latest info on his studio guests or chatting with Stephanie as I passed by her desk, the staff at SPR have made me feel so welcome.  Also, this being my first internship, I was very anxious to meet my boss, Shelley, but she has been a constant source of wisdom and support during my time here.  I have learned so much from her about the fields of marketing and PR and she constantly expands my knowledge of the different facets of the industry.  From recording promos, to writing this blog, to uploading podcasts, to perfecting media releases, to doing Facebook research using analytics, to attending events and taking pictures, I have gained so many new experiences this year.  The best part of working with her, however, is not the various mediums to which she introduces me, but rather her patience and encouragement while I am learning these new outlets. 

I think the most important lesson I have learned in this internship is not a technical note, but more of an attitude.  Seeing the passion of each of the staff at SPR and how that helps both their contentment with their job and the product they produce has been rewarding. 

I know that in the future I need to pick a career with an organization that shares the same values and mission as I do and never lose sight of that ultimate goal.  Even the little, mundane tasks help to achieve the overall picture, so I need to put hard work into each task I take on.  I know that seems like such a simple concept, but with so many outside influences trying to pressure me into taking the job that makes the most money, or the job that has the most flexible hours, or the job that will look the best on my resume, it was an important concept to learn.

With that, I wish the best of luck to the next intern who will continue this blog and I hope he or she can continue its purpose of sharing the rare behind-the-scenes world of a public radio station with all of you.   

 

Finnders and Youngberg in the Studio

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Today I was able to sneak into the KPBX Performance Studio and witness a live recording of a few songs from the bluegrass band Finnders and Youngberg.  This was kind of a surreal experience because I’ve listened to studio sessions a lot, but I’ve never been there for the live recording before. The atmosphere during the recording was probably my favorite part. While it is fun to listen to music as part of a big show or concert, there is something very intimate about a band playing a private concert in front of just a few people.

It was also eye opening to see Kevin Brown and Verne at work. They are both so good at what they do.  I was able to hear what the band had to say in more of a conversational setting than the typical interview structure.  Kevin, the host of Front Porch Bluegrass on KPBX, managed to get a lot of information and background about the group in a short amount of time, but did so in a friendly, at-ease way.

The other fun thing about witnessing the recording was getting to see behind the scenes of what will eventually become a podcast.   Each week I upload podcasts to the website, but a lot of times I just see them as files.  This showed me what the podcasts actually contain and why they are so important to have. I understand the importance of making shows available to the listeners, even after they have aired, so that everyone has a chance to listen. 

Overall, it was a very fascinating experience getting to see how a show is recorded. I realized that in my mind, I always thought recording shows was this tedious and intricate process, but really it was as simple as having a good conversation with friends.  I think that’s one of the qualities of a good host; letting the band stand by itself so the listeners can make their own judgments rather than diminishing its personality and sound by over planning the show.

The bluegrass band Finnders and Youngberg will play at the Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival in Medical Lake at 4pm on Saturday and 3pm on Sunday.  You can hear the whole recording on Kevin’s show, which airs Sunday at 1pm on KPBX 91.1.

Art on the Green

ImageImageImageEye opening and rewarding are the two words I take away from my time volunteering at Spokane Public Radio’s booth at Art on the Green, a festival hosted this past weekend in Coeur d’Alene. 

Since I started interning here, I’ve gotten in a routine:  put up the podcasts, write a blog, help Shelley with the various PR tasks of the week, etc. I’ve become so used these things that I think I forgot what they’re for.  Ultimately, the goal of the station, and all the work that is done here, is to produce entertaining and informative programming for you, the listener. This weekend helped remind me of that. 

I had the morning shift, so I showed up right before the crowds began their slow shuffle into the festival.  Our booth was situated right before the main entrance and everyone that entered had to walk by us on their way in.  The first half hour started pretty slow:  A few people passed and smiled but nothing too remarkable.  Then, it began.  The first person to approach simply thanked us for putting out quality programming.  Then someone came and chatted about their favorite program.  Then someone came and wanted to give an on the spot donation to show his appreciation.  Then the “thanks” became 20 minute conversations about how the station affects each person’s life and their opinions on the various shows and hosts.  These conversations made me respect the listeners and the staff here at SPR so much more.  Our listeners are so passionate and knowledgeable it blew me away.  A lot of the people that came to the booth knew more than I did about the station. 

I think the best part, however, was seeing how interactive the station is.  After some conversations, Shelley would write down specific feedback to take back to the station and analyze after the festival.  It was comforting to know that listeners have such a large say in the direction and choices of the station because the station almost belongs more to the listeners than it does to the staff.  The listeners make SPR what it is and it was very rewarding to hear their thoughts on something they care so much about.  It opened my eyes to see that the work at the station really does make a difference in the community.

Beating the Heat

ImageHaving no air conditioning and still awaiting the hottest day of the week, my roommates and I have been trying to think of fun ways to stay cool.  After a little research and a lot of recommendations, we have decided to float the Spokane River tomorrow.  I knew I couldn’t be alone in my quest to beat the heat so I asked the staff at SPR how they cope with the warm weather and was surprised by the answers.  I guess you never outgrow running through sprinklers and sucking on Otter Pops.

Nancy Roth has coping mechanisms for both day and night.  During the day, she has two misters, one of which hangs on her clothesline.  At night, she suggests getting a full spray

Imagebottle and wetting your sheets, nightgown, walls, basically anything that can sprayed.

Shelley Sharp is an avid gardener, thus dousing herself by pouring cold hose water directly on her head usually does the trick.  She also sneaks a drink of hose water every now and then.

Neesha Schrom stays cool by eating cold food. Among her favorites are Otter Pops (of which she’s already eaten 10 since last week), Outshine Fruit Bars, and her own homemade ice cream.

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Verne Windham likes to ride his bike through as many sprinklers as possible on the way home from work.  If, however, he doesn’t come across any, he is more than content to ride straight through the fountain downtown.

Stephanie Ingoldby and her young daughter splash around in shallow water.

ImageBeth Severn-Johnson also has kids, so she suggests visiting one of the many pools or splash pads around the area.

Linda Yates, having grown up in the desert, just doesn’t think about the heat, “I don’t let it get in my way,” she said.

Volunteer Marianne escapes to the basement to knit in the cold and quiet.

I would love to hear your suggestions and plans to stay for the rest of the summer!

A Fond Farewell to Mary Cravens

ImageThe blog for today is a bittersweet recognition of Mary Craven, membership coordinator for SPR for over 9 years, who will retire on July 15th.  She has made relationships with countless listeners as well as lasting connections with every staff member.  In her new free time, she and her husband plan on spending lot of time with their granddaughter Hannah as well as well as fly fish the West.

What Mary has to say:

Mary’s favorite memory:  “Pledge Drives!  I love the Frantic-Hectic-Chaotic high-energy fun!”

What she’ll miss the most:  “Spending at least five days a week in a family of friends that has an important mission:  We’re all dedicated to our listeners and top quality programming.”

What some of the staff have to say:

Neesha Schrom: “I will miss humming show tunes with her and her love for theater.”

Nancy Roth:  Mary is “one of the most thoughtful people I have ever met.  Genuinely warm, her humor on the other hand is quick and intelligent.”

Brian Lindsey:  Favorite memories with Mary are the mailings and helping her set up the table and move things around.

Beth Severn-Johnson:  All of the volunteers are “heartbroken” over Mary’s retirement.

Verne Windham:  “She’s my 8am buddy.”  Verne and Mary have ample time for conversation as two of the only people at the station so early.  They have discovered many things in common and have grown to have “a much better understanding of each other” in this environment.

Kathy Sackett:  “Mary is a very gracious lady.  She has a great sense of humor and is a good team player, which I know sounds cliché, but when something needs to be done, she gets it done.”  Mary has a fantastic background in the theater that she will miss.  Her knowledge of the listeners is extremely high so any time she works a ticket booth at an event, I don’t have to worry.  “I’ll miss that backup, and knowing if Mary was there, everything would be ok.”  Personally, Kathy and Mary have very similar taste and many times showed up to work wearing the same colors.

Shelley Sharp:  “Little known fact about Mary: We chat about fashion designers, Pucci scarves and shoes.”   Shelley and Mary also share the same passion for theater.

What will you miss about Mary?  If you contact the membership office in the next couple of weeks make sure to wish her a warm goodbye.

Salad Wednesdays

Every workplace has its own tradition, whether it’s Casual Friday, Bike to Work Tuesday, or, like SPR, Salad Wednesdays.  Salad Wednesdays are the evolved, summer version of the original Soup Wednesdays, which were inspired by Verne Windham’s leftovers, his appetite for soup in the winter, and, most importantly, his need to clean out the refrigerator.  Starting this cooking ritual several years ago, Verne said that SPR has perfected soup making; the kitchen even has special utensils to help with the process.  Their concoction is a rough, stone soup created from everyone’s leftovers and sometimes even that titular stone (kept in a place of honor, the “Soup Stone Stash” box in the cupboard). So, when Verne learned that Steve Jackson had a surplus of homegrown lettuce for a few months during the summer, he decided to start Salad Wednesdays, a definite hit with the staff.  Their full spread includes loaves of bread, fruit salad, a vegetable tray, both homemade and store bought dressing, a variety of toppings (like grilled sweet potatoes) and, of course, a large quantity of crisp, green, backyard grown lettuce.  Does your workplace have any fun food traditions?

The Process of a Promo

I experienced another first last week, but this one came in a slightly different form:  a promotional recording.  Shelley asked me to record a short 30-second promo for Bike to Work Week to be played on KPBX and KSFC.  After the difficulty with podcasting, you would think that I would’ve learned to be slightly nervous.  Nope.  I was actually pretty confident in my speaking ability.  I’ve never been nervous to speak in front of a crowd and I’ve always been told I have a loud voice. I was the kid that got in trouble in class for talking because my voice carried over all of the others. (I blame it on being the oldest child and having to learn ways to vie for my parent’s attention.)  So while not quite as difficult as the podcast process, promos are a poison of their own.  Below, I’ll share with you my four steps of the promo making process.

Step One:  The Cue.  They actually do the fade out three . . . two . . . one . . . , complete with upheld fingers and a silently mouthed one.  (I’m not sure if that’s actually a real thing or just Aaron being dramatic, but either way it really puts the pressure on.)

Step Two:  The Recording.  When I picture people talking on the radio, I just imagine them all hanging out in a room, speaking to one another. The actuality of the situation is that you are in a tiny room pressed against a microphone.  I tried to be excited and animated while reading the script, but it was actually pretty embarrassing trying to act so exuberant while basically just talking to myself.

Step Three:  The Playback.  Hearing your own voice for the first time is always weird.  I still think that my real voice is the one I hear inside my head.

Step Four:  The Radio.  This hasn’t happened yet, but when the promo starts airing next week I’m sure it will cause a minor panic attack as well.  Hopefully it’s while I’m sitting enjoying my first days of summer, not while driving down Division.

Are you participating in Bike to Work Week?  I want to hear about your experiences!