WGLS Keeps Rockin'
It's hot, dry, and eye-burning bright outside, another summer scorcher, while inside the studios of WGLS-FM, Rowan's award-winning radio station, it's cool and comfortable.
But the students who gave up summer job opportunities, vacations, and time with family and friends to help run WGLS through the summer aren't here for the comfort.
They're here to work.
Because they know this is the work they want to do. And the more they do now, the better the odds they'll do it professionally – in Philly, New York, L.A. and beyond when they graduate.
Broadcasting 24 hours a day, the station enlists roughly 40 students throughout the year in a variety of positions, from operations to public affairs to sports and news, and runs a crew of about 20 from Commencement until the start of the fall semester.
Those students don't just play "the music that matters" all summer – though that's critical – they broadcast news, weather, sports and public service information across south New Jersey, Philadelphia and parts of Delaware to as many as 1.3 million listeners.
Operations manager Allie Volpe, 19, of Washington Township, said students complete a rigorous training program before they go on air but it doesn't always quell the willies.
Volpe, a self-described music junkie, has produced and broadcast several shows since joining the station her sophomore year, an experience that helped build a depth of knowledge not only in programming but station management. She sees the time spent on-air and behind the scenes this summer as an investment.
"I could be doing something else but most summer jobs won't get me a job in radio," she said. "The connections I make here could ultimately help me land that first job."
In addition to music, news, public affairs and Rowan sports programming, the station last summer began airing Wilmington Blue Rocks minor league baseball games – an opportunity for aspiring sports broadcasters to build on experience they've gotten calling games for the Profs.
Rob Cunningham, a senior R/T/F and broadcast journalism double major, hosts pre- and post-game shows for Blue Rocks games from the on-campus studio before and after live broadcasts of games from Frawley Stadium in Wilmington.
"The pre-game starts a half hour before the first pitch and the post-game is a 15-minute wrap-up," said Cunningham, 21, of Egg Harbor Township. "It's kind of funny. I'm not what you'd call an outgoing person but when I'm on the radio I feel like I've found my niche."
Like Cunningham and Volpe, news director Waldy Diez, a journalism/Spanish double major, said the station has enabled her to do what she loves all summer.
"I love journalism and my position at WGLS gives me the opportunity to practice even after school ends," said Diez, 20, of Hammonton.
Diez this year won a Best-of-the-Best award from the New Jersey Broadcasters' Association student division for reporting on the Tent State University event at Rowan. The event, which Diez covered for "The Rowan Report" news program, focused on the state of higher education in New Jersey.
Since 1993, the station has won 213 national and regional awards.
"My goal is to be a Spanish language journalist," said Diez, who, in her third summer with the station, broadcasts a weekly news show and is an active blogger. "I'm here about eight hours per week in the summer but it keeps me tied in and focused on that goal."
Longtime general manager Frank Hogan said though the summer is generally slower across campus it's a prime time for aspiring radio personalities to build on-air experience.
"The great thing about the summer is, if you wanted to, you can do two, three shows a week," Hogan said. "To make it in this business that's the kind of experience you need."