There is no journalism major at PSU, but KPSU’s (PSU’s college radio station) radio news class offers a start in that direction.
Aaron Miles, who is a communications graduate student as well as a contributing writer for the arts and culture section of the Portland Mercury, was asked by last year’s program director, Kaja Brown, to develop a curriculum for a radio news class. Brown has since left, but Miles decided to carry the class through to fruition.
He designed the class and proposed it to the Chiron (a PSU program in which classes are taught by students) committee. He made a few changes to accommodate students’ needs in the course as the quarter progressed.
“He wanted to start up a news program on KPSU because we don’t have one. In the class, the goal was to learn about radio news, in the style, how you’d write out things, intros and outros, just basically an overall view of what you need to know,” said Erin Heflin, a freshman at PSU.
The radio station promotes itself through a presence at events, campus tabling and reaching out to local businesses. “It’s one of the hardest things we face, promoting. We need help,” said Miles.
KPSU has an average of about 1,000 listeners, the majority of whom are non-students.
Some students enrolled in the radio news course had never even listened to a radio news broadcast before taking the class.
“The first project was to go listen to a newscast. … and that was the first time that I listened to a station strictly dedicated to news,” said Heflin.
Miles began the class winter term, and will teach it for spring term as well.
“Audio is a great place to start,” said Miles, “and I think that if people wanted to go into TV, this a good place to start because it gives them the basics. And then when you add on that extra bit of visual it’ll be simple.”
“By the end of the quarter they don’t have to be at a professional level. All they need to do is have shown some learning of the basics. Writing broadcast style, interviewing, and at least have played around with the digital editing software. I don’t expect them to be a master,” he said.
Heflin said, “It was pretty cool to figure out how it works and to actually be able to walk in here and look at the equipment and know how it works, to do an actual interview and to see behind the scenes; it’s nice that I know how to use programs that not a lot of people know.”
Joe Keifer, another radio broadcasting student added, “We had a couple weeks to work on our stories, and most radio people have a couple of hours. It was hard for me to get it done in that time, so it makes me appreciate what they have to do more.”
The winter term’s newscasts were broadcast Wednesday. The stories the students had been working on for weeks were finally put on the air, including ASPSU candidate coverage, PSU’s slow financial aid department and the Coca Cola boycott. Even Wednesday’s student senate meeting protest managed to find its way into the broadcast, airing just fifteen minutes after it happened.
“My goals are just to teach students the basics, my hope, and it came true, is that by the end of the quarter we would have our first newscast,” said Miles.
For more information go to KPSU.org or tune in to 1450 AM.