The following is an interview on Friday, April 16 with Sarah Koh, ’09, an intern for Weekend Edition on NPR.
What year did you graduate from St. Mary’s, and with what degree?
I graduated from St. Mary’s college this past May in 2009. I majored in political science and I minored in film and media studies.
What is your position at NPR?
I was an intern for the weekend edition show, which airs on Saturday and Sunday mornings…and on Sundays I would have to come in by 6 in the morning to help the producers get the show on the air for broadcasting.
What made you decide to become an intern for NPR?
Well, I [was] kind of interested in getting into something in media production and communications…[NPR] seemed like a good place to work for, so I thought, “Why not?” so I applied.
So, what did you have to do to obtain the position?
I just went on the web site, and they have all the internships listed for each department and each show…so I just went online and applied.
What is your favorite part of the internship?
I really like just the whole hands-on experience…I had to do a lot of researching and booking guests for the show, so I would call a lot of different publicists, coordinate schedules and determine when we’re going to pre-tape an interview for the show that’s going to air on the weekend…NPR has a lot of member stations and bureaus so the host of our show will be in our studio in [Washington,] D.C. but whoever they’re talking to might be in New York or California …Sometimes we’ll have guests come to our studio and one time we had Wesley Snipes come in so that was really exciting…another time we had Jazz singer Jeremy Cohen come in for an interview…I think having that little brush of fame through our internship was a lot of fun.
You mention that you help producers research certain topics. What is your favorite topic you’ve covered?
All the interns produce this program called Intern Edition. We just had our premier on [April] 15, and what that is is all the interns get to produce stories…we’ll report [on] someone who we think is interesting, write our own scripts for it and edit our own pieces and all the interns kind of help each other throughout the entire semester…I think [through] the intern portion of it I also learned a lot concerning how to edit things, how to produce things.
What was your Intern Edition topic?
Over the fall I worked for this girl [who] has her own web show online called “Orange Juice in Bishop’s Garden” so it’s…kind of like a “Degrassi” kind of teen drama…It’s only online and she hires her own cast and her own crew and she writes all of her own scripts and she pretty much does everything by herself.…It’s not just television or the movies anymore, people are turning to the internet to have their creative outlet, their own stories and [produce] their own shows and they have a lot more freedom because they’re doing all these things by themselves on a low budget… What people don’t know is that there’s actually this whole group of people out there that are making shows only for the web, and if you go online there [are] all these shows that people don’t really know about..
What was the most challenging aspect of your internship?
Just multi-tasking all the things…I have another intership that I’ve been doing, at a casting agency on Mondays and Tuesdays, and then Wednesdays to Sundays I’m at NPR so I [work] seven days a week…A lot of the producers who I [was] working with directly would give me a lot of things to do for the day, but at the same time I had the story for myself that I had to be working on for Intern Edition.
What has your internship taught you about journalism, and radio journalism in particular?
A lot of producers say, “If you work here, you should consider yourself as a journalist because that’s the kind of environment you’re working in; you have to think as a reporter.” So in order to do that you have to be really aggressive and if you have any story ideas you have to let everyone know what your story ideas are because you can’t just sit there and let other people take an idea that you already have…I’ve met a lot of people that are always on the move [and] never in one place but work at one show for a while and then they make a connection with another producer on another show and then they go over there…You always have to put your ideas out there , have to always talk to people, always kind of be on the go [and] be aggressive.
What advice would you give aspiring journalists who want to obtain an internship?
If you are trying to look for a job, start by applying for an internship or a local member station…I don’t know for journalism per se, but I kind of feel like for anyone in my position of what to do after college…[try] to get as much experience as possible and apply for any position that’s interesting. Even if it’s something unpaid, if it looks like it’s something related to what you want to do… if it looks like something that you can get a good experience out of, you should apply for it.