Every afternoon as I enter the KBOO radio station in Portland–-colorfully adorned with community-specific illustrations and buzzing with activity–-I am struck by the power that I, a lowly intern, hold. As a news reporter for KBOO Radio, I have a few hours every day to sift through countless important stories to succinctly inform KBOO’s thousands of listeners of the most pressing local, national, and international news during the evening news hour.
KBOO is known in the Portland metropolitan area for being radically inclusive, for being rooted in liberation and for working to dismantle systems that oppress marginalized communities. In our 60-minute window, the news team must present news stories that confront systems of oppression and power structures. Sadly, there are plenty such systems and structures to keep the news room busy every day.
Much more difficult than writing enough news to fill an hour-long time slot is writing news that informs and inspires listeners. At its feeblest, the radio merely serves as white noise to drown out the sounds of traffic; at its most powerful, the radio can project vital information to thousands of enthralled listeners. Radio’s potential to move and inspire, to educate and to energize, cannot be wasted.
During my first week at KBOO, I found myself feeling hopeless about the newly-enacted federal immigration policy of separating families at the border in order to deter immigration to the US. Before working for KBOO, my only outlet for that hopelessness was by posting on social media or talking to friends. While sitting in the news bullpen wallowing in my hopelessness, I realized that in this space I have the tools to quell both my own feeling of hopelessness and, with any luck, the hopelessness of KBOO listeners.
This internship has granted me the massive privilege of having a public, widely-respected platform with which to share vital information on stories that require our attention and energy. That same hopelessness I had previously felt about my power to affect change was transformed into an acknowledgement of my responsibility to inform and to challenge listeners to take action. You never know when you will come across a cause that inspires you; I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to try to find and share stories that inspire KBOO listeners.
There are only 60 minutes of news that I can contribute to each day, but every single one of those minutes can prove to be the moment that someone becomes motivated to act. I am honored that I have the responsibility each day not just to inform but to persuade listeners to take action for causes they believe in. All causes need believers, and I will happily seek out and attempt to direct believers to the causes that need them now more than ever.
Experiences like CJ’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Victoria Wolff.