Anonymous said: Hi Mel--I come from the print world (book publishing) but I've always thought about working for public radio, but always felt that what I do now might not be applicable to working for public radio. I'm an English lit graduate and only did one (really short) journalism internship. Do you have any tips on how I can be more competitive for internships with NPR/local public radio stations and get my foot in the door? Thanks! Love the Fresh Air Tumblr, btw. Great job!
I wrote this for people applying for college internships, but it is still applicable:
I started working at NPR in 2006 as a Kroc Fellow. Before that, I had no exposure to radio and only wrote for my college newspaper. The Kroc was a fantastic way to get into the public radio system, but it’s not the only way to get involved.
Many of my friends who work at NPR, APM, PRI and for local stations started interning at a local station or show, or at NPR in DC. They then started pitching stories to editors and/or stuck around for a temp gig, which turned into permanent employment.
If I were in college now, I’d have a Tumblr, a Facebook page, a Twitter account — and I’d be pumping out content AND reaching out to people online who I liked — corresponding with them, following them and seeing what and how they post. I see a LOT of job postings on social media sites from other journalists. And there are tons of audio producers from NPR/local stations online. I’d follow the people who live close to you and ask how best to pitch ideas…
Public radio is like any other journalism job: writing a lot, reading a lot, being aware of potential story ideas, knowing web stuff to make yourself versatile, etc.
So you probably already have a lot of these skills. I’d call up, explain what you’d like to do, and find out who to talk to (or follow them on Twitter.) And then put together a compelling cover letter with story ideas and voila!