KTOO, UAS reach agreement for students to get hands-on experience

Through agreement, students will receive credits through internships

Posted: Sunday, January 16, 2011

It’s not uncommon to hear University of Alaska Southeast students on the radio Sunday nights, or to see them putting their shows together at that station. Now the university has entered into a formal agreement with KTOO that will allow students to experience hands-on learning in radio and television.

Libby Sterling / Juneau Empire
Libby Sterling / Juneau Empire

Through this agreement, students will receive credits through internships and other opportunities as they work behind the scenes and on the air while receiving guidance from the station’s professionals.

KTOO General Manager Bill Legere said such an agreement was a milestone, as it brings unique learning opportunities to students while introducing new ideas to the airwaves in a way that has not been done here before.

UAS┐Communications Department head Jennifer Vernon said this is a unique way to let students learn by doing rather than sitting in a classroom.

“What the agreement does is spell out how we work together to create ways for students to participate in a real-life media position,” she said.

She said the students will do a variety of jobs at the station to aid in learning production, programming, public speaking, interviewing, reporting and other skills that are part of daily life in a media environment. There are several points the agreement outlines to allow for this, such as formal internships that have not been available before.

“I was excited about students having the opportunity to do internships here,” Vernon said.

Students have been volunteering at the station in a variety of capacities for some time. This document formalizes the agreement for their work, allowing it to count for class credit as approved by the communications department. Some communications classes, including media production assignments, can also be done at KTOO.

KXLL Program Director Andy Kline said one such formal internship starts this week. A student will receive four credits while working with him behind the scenes on the radio. He said he is as excited as Vernon about this internship, as such chances present new ideas for everyone involved. He said he is looking into expanding programming done by students to include new highlights and music that will use events happening around town, such as poetry readings.

Many of the points in the agreement formalize work that students have already been doing, such as the UAS radio show on Sunday nights.

Kline said one of the original goals for KXLL was to build programming for younger listeners and younger talent, so working with UAS is a natural fit. He said reaching into the community this way also “helps the growth of a long-standing goal to involve Juneau residents in what KTOO does, so this is a perfect opportunity to provide access to KXLL airways.

“It not only serves the students, but our station and audience. The students, they come up with ideas we never would have thought of so it’s been incredibly valuable for our radio station.”

Vernon said there are several future project possibilities through the agreement. She said there are now plans for a video class to take place with the station in the summer of 2012. Legere said development on such summer programs may also help bring more people into Juneau to work on them.

He said other projects from the agreement include work on a television documentary series by the students next spring.

Legere said another advantage was that the station’s expertise and equipment could provide the chances for students to work on minors in media production.

Vernon has been working on building a collaborative relationship with KTOO for more than a year. She said there is a large need for media students to get experience and has made that a priority since her arrival here in 2009. She said students are limited in their job preparations without such hands-on work as part of their studies.

“KTOO has great, skilled expertise so it’s a great resource,” she said.

She said some attempts at such a collaboration have been attempted in Juneau before but most such attempts have not stretched into formal learning environments for the college. She said one reason for this is that there hasn’t been enough faculty members interested in media to bring such real-life training to fruition. That is something she has worked to remedy with KTOO from the start.

“Through her outreach to us, we were finally able to create these opportunities for students to get real-life experience,” Legere said.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.

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