Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ryan '08: Covering Madoff for news radio in NYC

(This entry is #6 in our series on summer 2009 Aggie journalism interns.)

Recent graduate Kenny Ryan '08, who was the 2008-09 opinion editor for the Battalion and wrote for the city desk before that, is interning this summer at WOR710 in New York. I asked him to send some news about what he's doing, along with any advice he could pass along, and he kindly wrote up the following, which includes near-brushes with Bernie Madoff and Bon Jovi:

WOR710 is a news talk station located on New York City's Manhattan Island; it's just between the WTC site and Wall Street. I intern for the news desk and spend my days scampering all across the city as I cover press conferences and conduct interviews, and occasionally also take pictures or write copy for the web site. Once I'm back in the news room I edit the tape so the audio can be used for their hourly news casts. Although the internships hours are technically only 9-1, I almost never leave that early and will stay at work as long as possible until there's nothing left to cover. One morning my boss was shocked to see I had been at work 10 hours the previous night; the longer I'm working, the more I'm learning is how I figure it.

The most exciting event I've covered so far was just this last Monday (June 29) when they sent me out to cover the conclusion of the Bernie Madoff trial at the NYC federal courthouse. It was an absolute circus; the sidewalk in front of the court house was covered in journalists, the major news networks had their field stars set up across the street, helicopters were even circling overhead. I was able to finagle myself into the midst of the pack as we all interviewed the Madoff victims who had come to see the verdict, and as the trial ended there was a slight thrill to being among the first people to know that Madoff had gotten his full 150 years in jail. The only unfortunate note was that Madoff and his lawyers never came out to give us a statement; the police on scene told the collected media that Madoff had sneaked away through the back door earlier as they put away the police barriers and took away the microphone podium. Most of the journalists left at this point, but feeling diligent I decided to ask the handful of journalists who had been behind the building covering the back door if Madoff had left, which they said he hadn't. I stayed with the building until the office called me home to work on other things, but had I been able to stick around longer I would have been able to see him slinking away past the remaining cameras later on.

Best story on the job so far without a doubt came one of my first few weeks at work. NYC and other major cities up here are supplied by the AP with a Daybook that lists all the interesting events happening in the city so journalists know whats worth covering. One morning I opened it up, looking for news to cover, and I noticed that there was going to be a charity event that night featuring Bill Clinton as a keynote speaker, and more importantly Bon Jovi as entertainment. I asked my boss if I could cover it and he said that if I made the arrangements he would give me a press pass, so I made the necessary calls and voila, I spent the evening rocking out to Bon Jovi no more than 50 feet from the stage. It was unforgettable!

So yea, that's more than a few lines, but I hope it works for you! NYC itself has been a joy to live in over the summer, especially every time a Texan calls to tell me about their hundred'degree weather as I relax outdoors in the mid-70s.

Oh, and as for how did I land this internship: I've always wanted to spend some time living in a major city, especially NYC. Initially I sent out my resume looking for a job to newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations in all the major cities in the Northeast, along the west coast and around Texas. When nothing materialized, I repeated the process but this time looking for an internship. WOR called me out of the blue one day and conducted an interview over the phone. They asked me how often I check the news, and I told them every spare moment of my day I'm up on stories from my cell phone, and that sold them on the idea of taking me on for the summer.

Years ago I hosted my own local sports talk show in CS with my brother and then a friend as a cohost and I had enjoyed the experience, so getting a taste of news radio was something I had always wanted to do. This has without a doubt been a great summer experience for me. Now I just need to update my resume and land a real job out there somewhere!

Advice to students: Learn as much as you can about everything! My second day at the internship I was working as a photographer at a NY state senators press conference as one of the WOR desk assistants showed me how to use their sound equipment, that was my first time taking pictures as a journalist, and they ended up online. I also ended up writing the copy on the story with the DA that day, as well as helping edit the audio. Be familiar with as many tools as possible because you never know when you will find yourself with one in your hand and an opportunity to use it.