Two women, one young with hair pulled back and the other older with long brown curly hair standing behind two men kneeling, both wearing hats with brims and wire rimmed glasses, everyone smiling

Devon Baird, top left, with WGRN volunteers clockwise, Victoria Parks, Eugene Beer and Dan Dougan

At this time of every school year, most seniors across the country are itching to bust out of high school and into their own independent lives. This feeling is commonly known as “Senioritis” and lucky for me, I haven’t spent the last nine weeks cooped up in a calculus class fantasizing about what comes after graduation. I’m on a semester long service learning project called Walkabout. It’s a project that develops the skills, attitudes and values of responsible adulthood. The test of Walkabout, and of life, is not what a student can do under a teacher’s direction, but what he or she can do as an individual. So instead of dealing with daily tests and assignments, I’ve been working for a local community radio station called WGRN.

Before this year, I didn’t know anything about community radio in Columbus. I’d heard bits of it in the car, but I didn’t know what it was. I’ve always loved writing, so my supervisor suggested it to me last fall. At first I wasn’t sure, I’d taken a journalism class before and although I thought it was super interesting I wasn’t sure that was what I wanted for a career. I had a friend who graduated the year before work with another station and she didn’t get to do anything. I was looking for an internship in a hospital or the medical field, but no one wanted to take a minor into their work place for over two months. So I started listening to WGRN and a couple weeks later I agreed to meet with Victoria Parks. After talking about the hands on experience I was going to have, my interest piqued. Now, I’m glad I went through with it.

Honestly I didn’t know what to expect going into this internship. Besides the journalism class I took my sophomore year, I knew nothing about radio and news broadcasting. I was really hoping, however, that I was going to get at least some of the hands-on experience that Victoria promised. Many of my classmates spent their walkabout organizing paperwork, cleaning up, and other sorts of intern work that no one else has time for. Meanwhile, there I was listening to my voice on the radio, producing news segments and public service announcements, scheduling shows, and even helping a local producer with post production editing. I was lucky enough to be able to do a little bit of everything. It was awesome.

Of course I made mistakes; I scheduled the wrong show into a time block, deleted another time block and all of its content, and somehow missed about two minutes of dead air in the schedule, just to name a few, but overall I accomplished and learned a lot.  It was a great experience and I now feel more prepared for college.

I learned so much about radio, to the point where I would be listening to a station, like WGRN, with my friends, then find myself explaining to them the difference between a promotion and a legal radio station ID, or how six corporations control about ninety percent of all media outlets. I’ve learned how to sort through information and find the facts to put in news copy and how to write it. I’m able to use cloud software to organize a radio schedule to FCC standards and produce and edit audio worthy of radio broadcast over the airwaves.

A lot of what I’ve learned has had nothing to do with radio. For example, I’ve learned how to interview for a job, work for someone else, communicate effectively via email, and how to be self motivated. Besides the training I got from Victoria, I was on my own a lot. There were no reminders to get my work done and meet deadlines like there are in the classroom. I had to keep track of myself and what I needed to get done. These are things that school couldn’t have taught me.

I’m very glad that I had this experience, I gained new skills and opened doors that are really going to help me in the future. Although it was hard and sometimes overwhelming, I had a lot of fun and would highly recommend this experience to incoming seniors or anyone else looking to get involved in radio. After all, it’s community radio, so local voices and volunteers are always needed. If you’re willing to put in the work, you can get a lot out of it.

You too can help out at WGRN 94.1 community radio! We are looking for volunteer programmers, producers and have lots of opportunities. Contact us at: See our website at and donate through Paypal. Wish us happy anniversary at the Earth Day celebration at the Commons on Sunday, April 22 – we will have a booth.


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