WUMB Attempts to Bring Back Internship Program

Felicia Whatley

The University of Massachusetts Boston radio station, WUMB, is looking to reinstate an internship program for UMB students despite the lack of a Communications department at UMB, said the WUMB local program manager Jay Hedblade and General Manager Patricia Monteith.

Since the previous internship program at UMB ended shortly after its implementation by UMB’s American Studies department, Hedblade said another shot at an internship program would require the help of the College of Arts and Sciences as well as the cooperation of teachers and advisors in sponsoring students as interns.

Years past, the radio station used bring on five interns a year and show them the ropes of running a radio station, said Monteith. Interns were required to put in ten hours a week for a year, earning six college credits from the Arts and Sciences department, and for many, marking the beginning of a radio career.

By working with UMB, high school and college students used to receive internship credits from their school programs. Some UMB students also participated in a yearlong experiential learning program at WUMB called the ‘Radio Learning Project.’

Aside from offering students a tremendous internship opportunity that they deserve, Hedblade said that the atmosphere at WUMB is another benefit that awaits students if and when the internship program is brought back.

“The quality and dedication of the staff is really good,” Hedblade said. “They show enthusiasm. They are excited to be here and they bring in good ideas. It is good to be in an organization like that.”

Monteith, who used to attend UMB as a student, has worked with the campus radio station for 40 years. She also said she hopes university staff will sponsor students to work at the WUMB station as interns. The students, Monteith said, add a lot to the radio’s programming and bring new ideas to the station. Monteith agreed with Hedblade that the creation of a Communications department at UMB would be the first step in the road toward internships.

Although WUMB is the country’s foremost radio station for folk and acoustic music, Hedblade said the station also airs a mix of folk music including singer-songwriter, blues, Celtic, bluegrass and more.

“We do more than folk music. We play nine to ten different genres. We play blues, blue grass, world music, Tracey Chapman, Indigo Girls, Patty Griffith,” said Hedblade.

Monteith addressed the concern that folk music may not be a popular form of music for some students.

“Students hear that we are folk music and say that doesn’t apply to them,” she said. “But that is a limited view of what we do today. We play artists fronted by people in their 20’s. The folk movement comes from Boston students like Judy Collins and Joan Baez. We had 300 bands play live on WUMB last year.”

WUMB is a non-commercial folk radio station licensed to the University of Massachusetts headquartered at UMB. It serves as a central hub for a network of five public radio stations in Boston, Worcester, Falmouth, Orleans and Newburyport, broadcasting on 91.9FM 24/7 and reaching thousands of listeners in over 275 cities on the American east coast.