Media outlets offer work for students

By Paul Wagner

For students interested in media careers, NIU offers more than just classes. A television station, two radio stations and a newspaper are connected with the school.

TV-8, a cable channel available to the residence halls and DeKalb and Sycamore cable subscribers, presents a news show five nights a week while NIU is in session, said John Morgan, a journalism graduate assistant.

Robert Miller, assistant professor of communication studies, said communications majors produce the show, while journalism majors cover the news and appear on the air. TV-8’s weather is forecast by geography majors.

The news program is targeted toward DeKalb and Sycamore residents, Morgan said. “A number of other university publications target the campus,” he said.

The students working at TV-8 news already have completed the introductory courses in their field, said Mike Wimmer, a communications graduate student. He said students continually rotate the various jobs throughout the semester, enabling them to gain experience with a number of different jobs.

NIU also has a student-run cable radio station that is available to residence hall students and DeKalb cable subscribers. Though now restricted to cable, WKDI is working on a proposal to convert to FM broadcast. Located at FM 93.5, the station broadcasts 24 hours a day during the fall and spring semester and 12-16 hours a day during the summer semester.

WKDI Promotions Director Andy Evanson said the station’s format is determined by the music and program directors who have decided to play “alternative, progressive music.” He said the format is a reaction to other stations who play primarily Top 40 music.

“We’re more improvisational than most stations,” Evanson said, adding that disc jockeys usually play what they want. He said WKDI occasionally has special programs which must be approved by the program director who is “open to ideas for special shows.”

The station hires students as well. Disc jockeys work as unpaid volunteers, but the 12 management positions are salaried.

At 89.5 is WNIU-FM, a public radio station serving DeKalb and Rockford. WNIU General Manager Michael Lazar said the station broadcasts news and classical and jazz music 20 hours a day. He estimated the station’s audience to be from 20,000 to 25,000.

Lazar said WNIU also runs the Northern Illinois Radio Information Service, a special service available to the blind. He said about 75 volunteers read daily newspapers, books, magazines and special features to blind people picking up the signal. A special radio available from the station is needed to decode the signal.

WNIU provides both volunteer positions and part-time work to NIU students, Lazar said. He said WNIU has about 20 part-time positions, mostly held by NIU students.

The Northern Star is NIU’s student newspaper. It is entirely student run except for the adviser and business adviser. The Star employed between 165 and 170 students last year, said former editor Debra Fleischman.

Star Adviser Jerry Thompson said the paper is the fourth largest employer of students on campus, following the NIU Food Service, NIU Libraries and the Holmes Student Center. In nine months, the Star pays about $175,000 to its student employees, he said.

The Star is one of the “bigger, better college newspapers in the country,” Thompson said, adding that it is “certainly in the top 20.” He said the Star is one of the best equipped college newspapers. The Star uses more than $500,000 in computer equipment, with about $75,000 still on order.

Thompson said the Star pays for all of its equipment and production costs primarily through advertising. “Students don’t pay one cent to support the newspaper,” he said.

“In my opinion, if you want to be a concerned member of the university community, you should read the Star every day,” Thompson said.