On Friday, March 23, a group of 15 student members of WONY 90.9 FM, SUNY Oneonta’s student-run radio station, took a Student Association sponsored field trip to New York City to visit major radio institutions and learn about the industry. There, they received private guided tours of New York Public Radio (NYPR) and iHeartMedia. They were accompanied by Dr. Andrew Bottomley, WONY faculty advisor and Assistant Professor of Media Studies in SUNY Oneonta’s Communication & Media Department. It was a rare chance for students to get a behind-the-scenes peek at professional broadcasting studios, interact with veteran broadcasters and top industry executives, and learn about internship and career opportunities.
In the morning, the students visited New York Public Radio’s offices in the Hudson Square neighborhood of Lower Manhattan for an eventful two hours. NYPR operates WNYC, an NPR affiliate and the most-listened to public radio station in the country. In addition, NYPR runs the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, New Jersey Public Radio and WQXR, the latter being one of the oldest and most influential classical music radio stations in the country. NYPR also recently acquired the much-loved NYC local news and politics blog Gothamist.
While receiving a full guided tour of NYPR’s newsrooms and studios, students were able to observe the legendary Brian Lehrer hosting his live call-in talk show The Brian Lehrer Show. As it happens, upon first arriving in the NYPR lobby, the WONY group immediately ran into one of Lehrer’s upcoming guests, the Public Advocate for the City of New York, Letitia Jones. The students proceeded to have a warm, engaging conversation with Ms. Jones, who is the City’s second highest ranking elected official and the first woman of color to hold citywide office in the history of New York City.
NYPR produces some of the most popular nationally-distributed radio shows and podcasts in public media today, including Radiolab, On the Media, Freakonomics Radio, Snap Judgment, The New Yorker Radio Hour, and Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin. In addition to the studio tour, the students had meet-and-greets with three living legends of public radio: Radiolab co-host Robert Krulwich, local New York City host of All Things Considered Jami Floyd, and On the Media host of Brooke Gladstone. Despite being on a tight Friday afternoon deadline, Ms. Gladstone even invited the WONY group into On the Media’s offices and pulled her entire production staff into a huddle to dialogue with the students. These enlightening conversations were followed by a highly informative discussion session with Vice President of Recruitment, Diversity, and Inclusion Brenda Williams-Butts about internships and jobs. WONY’s visit concluded with NYPR generously catering a pizza lunch for the students, followed by a visit to the stations’ archives and a chat with the Director of Archives, Andy Lanset.
In the afternoon, the group ventured to iHeartMedia’s headquarters in the historic AT&T Building in Tribeca. iHeart Media (formerly Clear Channel Communications) owns 850+ radio stations, making it the largest network of AM and FM radio stations in the U.S. It also owns various other media properties, including the iHeartRadio online platform/app and Clear Channel outdoor advertising. Promotions Director Danielle Dellilo gave the WONY students an extensive tour of the iHeartRadio Theater and all of iHeart’s New York City-area radio stations, including the massively popular Top 40 station Z100 (flagship station for the syndicated weekday morning program Elvis Duran and The Morning Show), the hip-hop station Power 105.1, and the classic rock station Q104.3.
The students were even invited into the Lite FM broadcast studio by midday DJ Helen Little for a spirited impromptu chat while she airing a music block. Following the tour, the students took in illuminating presentations about the state of the radio and music industries from Marc Anastasia, iHeartMedia’s Integrated Media Sales Manager, and Scott Hopeck, iHeartMedia’s President of the New York Region. Mr. Anastasia and Mr. Hopeck were both incredibly generous with their time and eagerly fielded the students’ enthusiastic questions.
All in all, the field trip was an enriching educational experience that the WONY student members will not soon forget.