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Public Radio Volunteer

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People's reasons for wanting to volunteer at campus or community radio stations are as varied as the people doing the volunteer work.

Some want the glory of hearing their voice on the airwaves. Others are looking to add something to their college applications or resumes. Still others enjoy reaching out to an audience of listeners. But no one seems to regret the time they give for free.

In many cases, volunteers are the lifeline of campus and community radio stations. Campus radio stations are run by the students of a college or university. Community radio stations are non-commercial operations run by people in the local community.

Sandra Wasson is the general manager of the KALX campus/community radio station at the University of California, Berkeley. She says that without the more than 200 volunteers who work at KALX, it would be impossible to keep the station running.

As a university student, Wasson had spent a lot of time listening to music and going to live shows. She had also volunteered at her campus radio station. After graduating, she began a career in management.

"I didn't like what I was doing," she says of her management work. So when KALX offered her the opportunity to blend her management training with music -- an area she felt passionate about, she was sold. She's been with KALX ever since.

"I don't think I would [have] ever thought of doing this without first volunteering at the radio [station] when I was in college," she says.

It's not unusual for people working and volunteering at campus and community radio stations to have backgrounds in something other than broadcasting or media.

Charles Lee is a graduate student in neuroscience at Berkeley. During the course of his studies, he decided to try to combine his interests -- science and broadcasting -- into a career in science journalism. He decided to launch a science and technology program through the public affairs section of his campus radio station.

"I happened to hear about community radio through a friend," he says. "It seemed like a pretty fun thing to do."

Lee plans to use his experience with the radio station to make a move into broadcasting.

Millie Lapadario is also a student at Berkeley. She got into volunteering because she wanted her college application to look good.

"On college applications, there is a big emphasis on doing everything -- sports, community service, extracurricular stuff," she says. "I knew that it would help me to have community service on my application.

"I volunteer at the radio [station] once a week for four hours," she adds. "It's not too much of a time commitment. Anything more than that I wouldn't be able to fit into my schedule."

Sean Condon is a volunteer at a campus/community radio station called CJSF Radio. In the past, he had volunteered to help his friends with different projects, but he hadn't done any volunteering for himself. At his campus radio station, he found a community that he could work well with.

"Part of our policy is to exhibit the feelings of the people in this area," he says. "It's a very co-operative atmosphere around here. If you ask questions, you are able to get help. It's not all about your own ego.

"We're an alternative to the mainstream," he adds. "I have artistic friends...that are not getting the airplay they deserve. They can't get over the iron wall that exists at a corporate station. Here we are able to feature artists who are working independently or on a small budget. That's more in line with my beliefs."

Long before Daryl Richel was hired as CJSR's program manager, he served as a volunteer with the campus/community radio station.

"I'm like most people," Richel says. "I have hobbies. CJSR is a place where people who have particular interests can share them with others."

Richel ran an alternative travel program, and what he claims is the only bicycle traffic report in the world.

"I just discovered that we have so much freedom at CJSR," he says. "We can almost do what we want to do. There aren't too many places you can do that. This is certainly one of them."

Richel believes that community-based radio stations like CJSR are important. And he's devoted to keeping them on the airwaves.

"They provide some diversity," he says.

How to Get Involved

Contact your local community radio station and ask about volunteer opportunities. If you're a college or university student, contact your local campus station, and offer up your volunteer services. Some university radio stations accept volunteers who are still in high school, as well as other people from the community.

According to Lapadario, one of the great things about working at a campus radio station is that you don't need any background training or experience. Lee first visited his campus radio station during one of his university's orientation sessions. Eventually, he just started helping out around the station.

"It's a pretty fluid process," he says. "It's easy to get in to. The station relies on volunteers to run it. Without them, it wouldn't exist, really."


Check out the radio station at the University of California, Berkeley

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OCAP believes that financial literacy and understanding the financial aid process are critical aspects of college planning and student success. OCAP staff who work with students, parents, educators and community partners in the areas of personal finance education, state and federal financial aid, and student loan management do not provide financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice. This website and all information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended to be construed as financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice.