On the air

JDHS senior shares her passion for journalism, being a radio intern

Posted: Sunday, December 27, 2009

"People are going to make world-changing decisions based on what journalists report. ... People depend on journalists to report the truth, and there is this sense of trust between a journalist and their audience. If Matt Lauer reports that the world is going to end tomorrow, most people are going to believe him. I think this is the most enjoyable part, knowing that your words mean something and that you can influence people and the world just by saying something."

Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire

- Caitlin Goettler, KTOO radio intern

For ambitious 18-year-old Caitlin Goettler, the world is her oyster. Over the last two summers, this busy high school senior was provided an opportunity to live out her passion in journalism through an internship at KTOO.

"I love writing, and I love talking on the air," she said. "I have often thought of going in another direction, because the journalism field is really competitive, and a lot of the bad news can really bring you down.

"But I am still drawn back to it because I love it so much. I love talking on the air, figuring out the story and knowing that my words mean something. If I had to wake up every morning and interview people and write and report news stories, well, that would be awesome. I can't imagine doing anything else."

Goettler said she has had some amazing opportunities at KTOO, such as interviewing Carlos Boozer this summer when he visited Juneau to host what will become an annual youth basketball camp.

"Having a 20-minute conversation one-on-one with an Olympic gold medalist and NBA all-star was probably one of the coolest things I've ever done in my life," she said. "I've gotten the chance to do a live newscast and host a news program."

"The kids do such great work for us that we're really excited to give them some attention," said KTOO radio manager Cheryl Levitt.

The four-year-old Broadcast Journalism Program originated at JDHS with English and Social Studies teacher Kristin Garot and moved to Thunder Mountain High School last year when she relocated to the new school. Goettler was only a sophomore when she did her first radio story for KTOO's Morning Edition.

"I was so nervous the first time I went on live and messed up quite a bit," Goettler said. "Of course that was the day that I got home and everyone was like, 'I heard you on the radio today.' and I just wanted to hide under a rock."

Regardless of first-time jitters, Goettler has blossomed over the last two years.

"Caitlin as a student wasn't afraid to try things and take risks in her education," Garot said. "Her professional attitude makes her stories and her work at the station valuable."

Because Goettler showed such an interest in journalism, Garot recommended her for a summer internship at KTOO, under KTOO News Director Rosemarie Alexander. Little did they know, Goettler would return to KTOO for a second helping after her junior year.

"She was an integral part of the newsroom at KTOO," Garot said. "She reported local issues and hosted the afternoon news program. She's someone who took what she learned in the classroom environment and applied it directly to the real world."

Students in Garot's current journalism program consist mostly of sophomores and juniors, who produce news stories for KTOO's Morning Edition.

In the past, students have covered a broad range of stories and beats: high school sports, local theater, local issues such as snowmobile access at Eaglecrest Ski Area and plans to build a second crossing to Douglas Island.

"Caitlin chose to continue this work beyond what we did in class because of her interest," Garot said.

Goettler's first project covered the Region V track and field meet held in Juneau that year.

"I'm not going to lie, it was a lot a lot of work," Goettler said of her first radio story. "We put in a lot of hours after school writing the story, then we had to go out and get interviews and natural sound. Editing the sound took forever."

In the end, the result was definitely worth it, she said.

"It was pretty cool to hear myself on the radio, and I got a lot of positive feedback."

In all, Goettler loves talking with people and trying to find out their story.

"I used to be a really shy person until I started working at KTOO," she said. "I've learned how to carry on a conversation with someone even if I have no knowledge of the subject we are talking about. ... That is definitely something I would not have been able to do two years ago."

In the years to come, Goettler hopes to get better at voicing - knowing when to change your voice and when to change pitch.

"It's important when voicing to make sure you aren't completely monotone or going up and down and all over the place," she said. "You have to find that happy medium and I feel I have yet to find that. That is something that I think Matt (Miller) at KTOO is really good at. I also really want to work on interviewing, and asking the right questions."

After graduation, Goettler plans to continue with journalism, mostly likely in North Carolina, where most of her family lives.

"Rosie (Alexander) always jokes that I am going to be so bored in my first journalism class in college," she said. "I feel like I have found my passion. However, I think it would be fun to try television or print. ... My main goal is to one day host a national news program like Anderson Cooper or Brian Williams."

In giving advice to her fellow seniors, Goettler says it's important to find something you're passionate about and to go after it.

"As long as you do this, I don't think you'll have any regrets," she said. "I think if you find something you're passionate about, you're guaranteed to be successful, because you will naturally work hard if you love what you do."

• Contact Neighbors editor Kim Andree at kim.andree@juneauempire.com.

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