When my former Fundamentals professor, Anne Donohue, suggested I take her Online Radio Journalism class this year, I was skeptical. As someone who swallows, trips and chokes on her words, broadcast has never been on my radar. But Professor Donohue insisted I try out the mic, believing in me enough to send email after email throughout the break. Out of a combination of curiosity and flattery, I signed up.
And I’m so glad I did.
I walked in to that first class knowing absolutely nothing about radio, and it was painfully obvious. I sat down with four graduate students, including this year’s WBUR fellow. A senior on my left had a paid job at the Boston Herald, and another already had a show on WTBU (Boston University’s college radio station). Not to mention our professor at the head of the table, who was an award-winning radio journalist with clips from National Public Radio.
NPR was a staple in my house growing up. I woke up to the muffled sounds of Renee Montagne through plaster walls and drove home to Melissa Block. I cooked dinner with Terry Gross, laughing at anecdotes and burning my chicken in the process. These women narrated my young adult life, taught me about the world and gave me something to aspire to. They filled silence, distracted me from my own life, gave me perspective. And they told stories in the way stories were meant to be told — aloud.
I don’t know why I never connected the dots. Maybe I was afraid of my own voice, or maybe I liked the facelessness of print; regardless, in the short period of time I’ve been reading the news, I’ve fallen in love.
Now, that’s not to say I’m naturally gifted. Adobe Audition is definitely out to get me and Tascams are more frightening than (and disconcertingly similar to) tasers. Ambient sound and actualities and fades are all foreign to me, and I’m still confused by the concept of actively trying to sound colloquial. I miss my semi-colons and AP style. I miss word counts and InDesign.
But for some reason, the fact it’s not easy for me makes it more appealing. There’s something that’s pulling me forward, dragging me by the tongue as I flip through scripts and gag on politician’s names. Hearing my voice on the radio, as nauseating and terrifying and stressful as it is, excites me. It feels new.
I’m still learning, but I’m loving every minute of it. Even when I’m cringing over my levels and cursing the weird buzzing behind my voice over, I’m eagerly anticipating the next time I can say,
“And I’m Brooke Jackson-Glidden.”
Here are some of my first stories. To hear some of what I do, tune in to WTBU Tuesdays at 11:30 for News Brunch.