Participating in the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Earth Week celebrations provided several Journalism and Mass Communications majors with more than the opportunity to raise awareness for environmental issues of their choice. It also enabled them to gain real-world experience by creating a live broadcast with the expertise of MavRadio staff.
The broadcast was conducted by students in Jodeane Brownlee’s advanced radio class Radio Audio II, which is a course emphasizing audio-editing techniques used in multimedia digital production. The class included computer-based audio production systems used to create interactive media, like radio station broadcasts.
Brownlee, who is a UNO Communications instructor, is also the Faculty Adviser for MavRadio which is UNO’s student-run radio station, designed to serve as a learning laboratory for students interested in broadcasting careers.
Since MavRadio is designed to give students real-world broadcasting experience, Brownlee requires her Radio Audio I and II students to complete a weekly radio shift. For the past three years, Radio Audio II students have taken their broadcasting experience a step further with a semester-long project ending with a live MavRadio broadcast which students in Brownlee’s spring semester class produced for Earth Day.
“We do two live broadcasts each year, one in the fall and one in the spring,” Brownlee said. “In the fall we do something called Haunted Heartland (a Halloween themed broadcast), and that was really successful the first time I implemented it, so then spring came and I wanted those students to have a similar experience.”
Brownlee said it was difficult to find an event for students in her spring semester class to cover since she needed to find a topic that would fit within the class schedule, be versatile enough for students to cover for several years and take place around the same time each year.
After looking into several holidays like St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and Passover, Brownlee said she decided on Earth Day.
“The one thing that doesn’t change, and the one thing I think we all have a vested interest in is this topic of Earth Day,” Brownlee said.
Brownlee allows students to choose any topic related to Earth Day, such as an environmental crisis or an event going on in Omaha.
“A student can find his or her passion or something that they are very interested in, and then we weave it into the program,” Brownlee said.
“We had topics ranging from water pollution to how stadiums are becoming sustainable to the international perspective of Earth Day and what other countries do.”
Students are then required to complete research on their topic, interview two people, write, edit and record a three to five-minute story, which is later broadcasted live via MavRadio.
“Students get experience with interview, putting together a great story, telling a story and live broad cast experience,” Brownlee said. “It’s just great because we come together as a team.”
This year’s live Earth Day broadcast took place on April 20. The event kicked off at noon with The Band Omaha playing live in the Plaza for an hour before rolling into in-the-field broadcasts completed by Brownlee’s students.
“They go live from the scene,” Brownlee said. “One student had a story on traffic pollution in Omaha, and he went down to 72nd and Dodge and did his live report from there.”
Three students, Gabby Christensen, Kasie Wilcox and Justin Doering hosted the show.
“There were probably 10 or 11 different students providing stories,” Doering said. “It was up to us to manage them, introduce them and do some interaction and some formal discussion about it.”
Doering, who is a junior broadcast journalism major, said an Earth Day broadcast “is a natural fit … to culminate everything we have learned over the semester and put it into a nice, neat package.”
“We can look back on everything we have done over the semester and critique ourselves,” Doering said. “We can take some of the highlights from that and put it into demo tapes for us to use if we choose to stay with broadcasting post our time here at UNO.”
To listen to more MavRadio broadcasts, tune into KVNO 90.7 HD-2 or visit their website at www.mavradiouno.com.