Internship delivers ‘behind the scenes’ experience in radio industry

Roger Coda
student at radio station board

Isabella Inzinna, a sophomore who completed a J-Term internship with Connoisseur Media Long Island, in Production Studio A at Fredonia Radio Systems.

“It definitely made me realize wanting to be on the air is always going to be an ambitious goal, and that there are other ways that will still allow you to work in radio; there’s a lot more behind-the-scenes than you realize.”

Such was a key takeaway for sophomore Isabella Inzinna, of Massapequa, NY, of her J-Term internship at Connoisseur Media Long Island, a media group whose five FM stations – 94.3 The Shark, 97.5 WALK; 983.3 KJOY, 103.1 MAX and 104.7 WHLI – span virtually all popular music formats. 

A prime example of behind-the-scenes work she and another intern did was researching sports bars for a contest at 94.3 The Shark, the “Everything that Rocks” station. “We had to find the best sports bars to watch the game,” Ms. Inzinna explained. The station’s social media director, drawing on their research, contacted the individual bars interviewed by the interns to see if they would like to sign up to be in the station’s best bar contest, a promotion that would ultimately benefit the station, Inzinna explained.

A double major in Communication: Audio/Radio Production and Communication: Journalism, with a minor in Creative Writing, Inzinna brought considerable experience from Fredonia Radio Systems to the internship. She’d already written many scripts at the campus station, so scriptwriting for “Hot in the City,” a series that explored finding fun things to do in the city, came easily. 

“If I hadn’t had that practice at Fredonia radio, I would have struggled a lot more writing for ‘Hot in the City,’” she said.

Experience at Fredonia radio included assisting Chloe Kowalyk, the public relations director, and Hunter Halterman, production director. She also put on her own show known by two different names, “Just Breathe” and “Vibe Hour.” It was devoted to de-stressing and relaxation, with lush background music and cute, feel-good stories Inzinna found “that made you smile.”

The five-week internship also gave Inzinna ample opportunity to refine her on-air presentation and production skills through radio spots that she created. “We were handed a pile of old scripts; we practiced recording, with timing, intonation, inflections – working on our radio voice.” Editing and selecting music were also involved. For other radio spots, background tracks were furnished, as a company or sponsor might do for their own spot. Specific time frames were assigned and had to be achieved.

“We got feedback at each recording and I definitely say that feedback I was given was very helpful,” Inzinna said.

Considerable time and effort are essential for on-air talent to achieve a high level of professionalism, Inzinna noted. Two SUNY Fredonia courses – COMM 251: Audio Production I and COMM 351: Audio Production II – helped Inzinna to become skilled in timing and pacing for, say, 15- and 30-second spots. 

“They made it clear that the internship was for us to learn and get experience, not for them to just have interns to use to their advantage.” - Isabelle Inzinna

Board work at the campus radio station was another asset Inzinna put to good use during the internship. “Every board is different (but) once you know how to use an open board, it gets easier to figure anything out. Just knowing how to ‘board op’ at the radio station definitely helped here. Once you know the basics, it’s very easy to figure out – what each button does, or what each slider does.”

Learning how the radio industry operates was a major goal important goal of the internship. “It’s all about what you know and knowing how to do multiple things, so instead of just being able to record or edit, they want people who can produce their entire show, or an entire spot, from start to finish, including vocals,” Inzinna said.
“I just tried to soak up everything I could while I was there. There are different aspects that go into running a radio station. There may be five people who are on the air,” she explained, plus another 20 that listeners don’t hear who all work together to make stations run. Inzinna also experienced how a professional office environment operates. 

“They made it clear that the internship was for us to learn and get experience, not for them to just have interns to use to their advantage,” Inzinna said.

She also learned to be always receptive to new opportunities, even when a task may appear to be insignificant. “It can have a bigger impact than you think.”

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