These are just a few of the dozens of WBEN newsroom interns who have emerged from the WBEN internship program with a solid foundation in what it takes to get it done.
Meet Some Former WBEN Interns:
WBEN Morning Host
WBEN Intern 1983-84
My internship at WBEN opened so many doors for me. It set me apart from the others in my Broadcast Journalism classes. I was getting real experience in the field that my peers were dreaming about in class.
WBEN's News Director at the time was Jim McLaughlin. He took me in as an intern. I answered phones, made police checks, cut-up network feeds and updated the WBEN Snow Closing system. I also went into the "booth" and watched the anchors deliver a newscast.
While this was going on, McLaughlin had me recording "mock" newscasts and I was getting coached on my delivery.
I had the opportunity to go out on a regular basis with WBEN legendary street reporter Brian Meyer.
There is nothing that compares to the rush of breaking news. Brian was a master at getting it on the air immediately and getting it right. Many of the people I met as an intern I still deal with in our industry today and those connections have opened many doors and helped pave the way for many stories and interviews on WBEN.
I'm working in this business because of the love of radio developed during my internship at WBEN. I know it helped me land my first job at WLVL in Lockport. Shortly after that I was hired to do part-time news on weekends at WBEN. More than 25 years later - I'm still here !
Entercom Buffalo Acct Executive
WBEN Intern 2007-08
The last day of my WBEN Newsroom internship was the last day of any work as a journalist, even with my degree stating that this is what I should be doing. With that being said, I credit all of my success as one of the top Sales and Marketing representatives at Entercom Buffalo, as a result of my internship experience with WBEN. My two semester stint with WBEN started by shadowing the elite, but quickly transitioned into being a contributing member of the team. From booking live guests for the morning show, to sound editing for story deadlines, finding citizens on the streets for comments on hot topics, or calling high government officials for interviews….you can’t help but end your internship with a much higher level of confidence, communication, writing and organizational skills compared to any other college student graduating in the WNY community.
During the second semester of my WBEN internship, the newsroom was short staffed that day for various reasons. Our normal on the street reporter, Barbara Burns, was anchoring the afternoon broadcasts, while I was out on the street gathering sound bites and writing stories for the day. It was about 15 minutes before I had to leave for class, when I received a notification about the Elliot Spitzer cheating scandal. Needless to say, I skipped the rest of my classes that day, being only one out of the two people at that time to work on breaking this story to the public at the best of our abilities. While Barb anchored, I was on the phone with government officials, recording sound bites for our news story, while also arranging times for them to be interview live on both the half hour news casts, and as guests with talk-show host Sandy Beach. Being able to contribute as much as I did that day, as only an intern, as well as experiencing the craft of breaking this news to the public; I was able to feel that "thrill", and sense of reward that only a journalist can experience.
WBEN News Director
WBEN Intern 1993
I learned that hard work, dedication, and meeting the right people are the basic keys to success in this business. As I have risen through the ranks of broadcasting and journalism, at each new step, I feel the same way I did back in the spring of '93. There are always people who are more talented than me, there are always people with a better voice or a better writing style. But I saw my opening 20 years ago to be someone who is ready to show up, work hard, and always be willing to learn something new.
At the end of my internship, I was hired at $4.15 an hour to run the controls for the "Best of the Rush Limbaugh Show" on Sunday afternoons, and I couldn't have been happier. It's been two decades worth of small steps, and really a career long extention of that internship: hard work and being open to learning have landed me in the news director's office here.
WGR Talk Host
WBEN Intern 1994
Interned at WBEN in the Summer of 1994. By the fall of '95 I had an evening sports talk show on WBEN. The experience being there for the internship directly lead to my future employment as a part time reporter and copy writer and eventually, as a talk show host. Taking the opportunity to work as an intern at WBEN was the best move I could have made at the time.
WBEN Intern 1984-85
What did you learn from your WBEN internship? More than I can write here. Everything about GREAT reporting from the greatest of all reporters in Brian Meyer. And as the ground controller for the Traffic
Copter I got to also observe some of the greatest DJ's in the world, including Jeff Kaye, Tom Kelly, Bill Lacy, and the incomperable Jack Mindy.
WBEN Intern 2008
My internship at WBEN was my first experience at "writing for the ear." I learned how to craft a story using words that grab the listener's attention, and ones that create a good mental picture. (note: just because I learned it doesn't mean I always succeeded.) The internship was also my first real experience at interviewing. Since much of the "sound" used in radio news is gathered through conversations with newsmakers, I learned how to ask questions that'll get them talking, and get them to give a "juicy" soundbite.
I remember the first time I was given a microphone and a recorder and asked to go out to do MOS interviews. I was equally excited and terrified. It was at a time when legislation was being introduced to increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes, and the news director wanted me to get reaction from smokers. After spending about 20 minutes working up the courage to approach people outside businesses on Niagara Falls Boulevard, I managed to find a few who didn't clam up at the sight of the WBEN mic flag and gave me a few good soundbites. It wasn't until I got back to the station and downloaded the audio that I realized the levels were set too high on the recorder and the sound was pretty much unusable. To this day, I never ask a question without first turning on the recorder and making sure the levels are set right.
Another memory that stands out is getting to accompany Barbara Burns (the senior reporter at the time) into the Sabres locker room at HSBC Arena to interview players for a story. I was so starstruck that I couldn't say anything! I remember seeing how it was "just another day at the office" for her, and thinking how cool it would be to get to do that everyday.
WBEN Morning Producer
WBEN Intern 1984-86
Learned importance of good public relations by dealing with various police agencies that were called 4 times a day; How to get basic information in a timely manner and relay that to the airborne traffic reporter; also able to observe or listen to morning and afternoon talent and learned how they went about preparing for – and delivering – their weekday broadcasts, and learned how to cover news stories; write for broadcast; write on deadline; interviewing techniques.
Public Information Officer, Erie Co Sheriff's Office
WBEN Intern 1985-86
As a street reporter intern at WBEN Radio, I learned how the various facets of the judicial and legislative branches of government work. I was assigned to help cover Federal Court; City Court; County Court and State Supreme Court. Many times my assignments consisted of checking in with the various court clerks to see if anything of interest had been filed; or inquiring whether or not the clerks heard of any interesting tidbits of news throughout their day. I would also sit on various high profile court cases, particularly murder cases to help monitor the progression of the case until it reached the jury. Arraignments; sentencing of inmates; and special hearings were also covered on highly prolific stories.
My assignments also included observing Common Council Sessions along with Erie County Legislative sessions to assist my mentor, Brian Meyer, with covering the topics of interest for that session. I was assigned to visit or "check in" in with the County Executive’s Office and Mayor’s Office every day to see if there was any news that was planning on being released that day, so as to get a jump on our competition.
We did cover ribbon cutting ceremonies; some Buffalo Bills press conferences, etc., but basically through my internship at WBEN, I learned how the wheels of government and the court system worked. It was an extremely valuable internship and one that I will always remember. In fact, one of the sources in county government that I used to talk to on a regular basis during that internship, recommended me for my current position back in 1997- when then Sheriff- elect Patrick Gallivan was interested in hiring an individual with media/government experience. (So you never know who is taking notice of your work)
Perhaps the most memorable time for me during this one year long internship was when Brian Meyer and I were thrown out of the Mayor’s Office while conducting a live noon interview. (I believe the interview was called "Newsday at Noon"). Mayor Griffin, at the time, was not a big fan of Meyer’s and he didn’t particularly care for the line of questioning that was being directed towards him. Without much warning, and right after abruptly ending the interview, Meyer and I were forcefully escorted out of the mayor’s office and shoved out the door.
Within in a manner of minutes Meyer and I had become the news instead of covering it. We were the talk of the political town; the story was the lead on the evening newscasts; and the Buffalo Evening News (I believe it was called that at the time) made it a front page story in their late edition.
What would I say to any future interns at WBEN Radio? I would tell them that this is an extremely valuable internship if you make it worth your while. You simply cannot get exposed to this many newsmakers and this number of events at any other level. Forget about not being paid for your time because you simply cannot put a price tag on this type of experience. You will meet people and go places that you never would have had the opportunity to do unless you signed up for this internship. Believe me when I tell you this- as experience is the only thing worth more second hand than first hand. The ever changing news business is a tough nut to crack; but if you are serious that this the career that you would like to pursue, then you have arrived at the right place. Work hard; keep your ears open; and make WBEN proud. Good Luck!