In recent years, competition for the ears of radio audiences has become much sharper, as streaming audio over the web and podcasting have become more of the standard for how audiences receive their news.
"NPR values diversity -- in the programming we put on the air and the backgrounds of those who work with us. Our recruiters can consistently count on The University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism to offer a diverse pool of internship candidates who understand and appreciate high-quality journalism and have been listening to public radio for years. Interns from UC Berkeley have been vital members of the NPR workforce, and their work has supported NPR's service to 26 million weekly listeners."
-DeNise Johnson, NPR Human Resources
Because of the upheaval in audience structure, the radio curriculum has had to adapt itself to a changing environment. We still offer an introductory course for students with no broadcast experience and a number of advanced courses for those who already have broadcast skills. But the assumption now is that the individual student likely will work in a world vastly different from traditional radio.
"For radio students in the J-School, Alaska has proved to be an important testing ground for their skills. Dozens of students have gone to the Great White North over the years for their summer internships, and many have returned to begin their careers. Public radio has a special role in Alaska. Because of the huge expanses, commercial broadcast has been marginal, but public radio is strong and vital. Many native corporations used money from the Native Claims Settlement Act of the 1970s to set up radio stations. The staffs are small, so interns perform a whole range of station jobs, logging lots of time on the air. They quickly memorize the names of the five species of salmon. The first J-School radio student who went to Alaska worked at a station in Petersburg, also known as Little Norway, population 5,000. It's an island in the Gulf of Alaska with a shortage of housing. The alumnus reported on the local school board, the president of which was his landlord."
William Drummond, professor
Radio students learn their craft in the Madeleine H. Russell Radio Lab, using the latest digital editing equipment. Beginning and advanced courses, taught by working professionals, focus on the basics of reporting, writing, production, and delivery, but with a pronounced new technology twist.
Course sequence includes: J275 Introduction to Radio Reporting, J212 Advanced Radio Reporting.
Students in the introductory class gain on-air experience by producing the award-winning program North Gate Magazine, heard Thursdays on 90.7 FM (KALX), the campus station. Advanced courses involve a wide range of production opportunities. In addition, the Kitchen Sisters, the award-winning public radio combo, have taught their own brand of eclectic radio. Other guest instructors, such as Laura Sydell of NPR and Holly Kernan of KALW, also have showcased their unique talents.
Mini-course workshops offer more-specialized instruction, for example, in ProTools digital editing. Breaking-news reporting, interviewing, writing for the ear and voicing are all covered in both the beginning and advanced courses. Alumni of the radio program are reporting from the far corners of the world for distinguished news organizations, and not always radio. Even so, they say that the experience of radio production gave them valuable skills, sharpening their writing and presentation skills.