Spring semester of my senior year at Oberlin College, I pitched a show for my college radio station. It would have combined my love of pop culture, music, and history by looking at the lives of famous musicians and their impact in pop music and beyond. I was rejected. But a couple of weeks later, I found out that I was going to be a Newman’s Own Foundation Fellow working at WSHU Public Radio as a journalist.
I guess in some ways it was a twist of fate, so I figured this was a great chance for me to prove that I could be on the radio and do a great job, even though I had no experience in radio journalism. I was a staff writer for one of my school newspapers for a year, but the paper was distributed once a month and I very rarely wrote about breaking news. This was to change when in the first week of my Newman’s Own Foundation Fellowship; I was on the radio every day, voicing scripts I wrote about news events I found out about only hours beforehand.
The learning curve was big for me, to say the least. I told my supervisor and my co-workers that I was woefully ignorant about a lot of politics, from the city to the national level, and that it may take me a bit to catch up. The exciting part of it all is that I’ve been able to speak with different politicians and lawmakers, and actually put faces to names I always hear about. I’ve also been able to go to town hall meetings and different community events to see the concerns of residents in both New Haven (where I am) and the rest of Connecticut.
It’s that last part, finding out the concerns of other residents, that makes me so happy to be a journalist and to be in this position. At Oberlin, I was a part of the Bonner Scholars Program, where I received a scholarship for doing 10 hours a week of community service. While in that program, I constantly reflected on what it meant to be a part of a community, especially as someone who would only be in that community temporarily. As this is a year-long fellowship, I’ve had to become very intentional on how to spend my time at my job and figure out what skills and experiences I want to get out of it.
I’ve been very fortunate to have a supervisor who wants to get me involved in all parts of the process, from voicing my own stories, to working on our social media presence, to producing interviews (one I did was with Ralph Nader, who was promoting a book festival in his hometown). As an artist and as someone invested in social justice, it has been surreal to spend every day developing new skills to become a more effective storyteller, not even months after I was trying to figure out what to do after graduation. And I know that these skills will take me far no matter where I go.
Anthony Moaton – NOF Fellow at WSHU Public Radio, Fairfield, CT