November 21, 2002

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Antioch students and WYSO—
Practicum in public radio

For the first time in five years, Antioch students this semester took “Practicum in Public Radio,” a class designed to familiarize newcomers to the world of public radio broadcasting.

This month, the class culminated in the production of each student’s final project, which was to be a five to 15 minute documentary designed for a specific show on WYSO or other public radio stations.

The students’ programs ranged from an anti-war piece containing opinions and excerpts of Antioch students juxtaposed with excerpts of President George W. Bush, to a documentary on police brutality, to a piece on adolescence and growing up in America.

Midway through the term, Julia Reichert, an Antioch graduate and professor of motion pictures at Wright State University, said, “I want to make this class a success in order to improve and continue rebuilding the relationship between the college and WYSO.”

Reichert taught over half of the classes during the term.

During the 1980s and ’90s, many Antioch students who later went on to work with media, film and radio went through WYSO first to gain hands-on experience.

The class was canceled five years ago, and was offered during fall term.

Some students, however, were disappointed in the results. When talking about whether the class helped bridge the gap between WYSO and the college, Donovan Lyons, a communications major, said, “Honestly, I don’t think the class helped at all. There’s a big difference between what students want to do with radio and the standards of NPR.”

“I thought it would be interesting to look at another type of media,” said Alex Needham, a communications major who specializes in film and video. “There wasn’t much about production, though. A lot of it was background on financial stuff.”

Many of the students expected that the rifts between Keep WYSO Local supporters and station management, both of which participated in the teaching process, would become a source of unneeded tension. In the end, “it never came into play,” said Needham.

Teachers in the class over the term included Reichert, former Antioch President Bob Devine, Antioch professor Anne Bohlen, alumnus Jim Klein, WYSO Music Director Vick Mickunas, WYSO General Manager Steve Spencer and former WYSO News Director Aileen LeBlanc.

The class included six upper-class students and 12 teachers, each bringing a wide range of backgrounds, opinions and views about the history and future of public radio broadcasting, collectively forming what many in the class referred to as the “Team.”

“The team approach is basically for balancing the load,” Reichert said of the overlapping schedules of the professors and teachers. “Not everyone can show up at once.”

As for the class’s future, Lyons said he hopes it continues. “But in the future, they’ll know what they’re getting into,” he said. “Forty-five-year-old white men have always been the target audience for NPR affiliates. Antioch students know this and have never wanted to cater to that audience.”

There have been some successes throughout the term as well. One student’s project, Mizuho Madano’s, is already being considered for use on WYSO. Her documentary was on a drug bust in Southern Ohio that resulted in the shooting of an allegedly unarmed man.

In order for the piece to air, it must be reviewed by a group of advisors including Antioch President Joan Straumanis, Spencer and Antioch University Vice Chancellor Glenn Watts.


—Michael Hogan Jr.