You can always tell it’s summer when the interns return to North Country Public Radio. One Friday it’s so quiet you can hear the clock ticking in the new media offices. Then Monday comes and the place is buzzing like a hive. There are at least 431 questions to answer and so much loose energy your phone could recharge itself just from being in the room.
Last summer it was four young women who became known as the iTeam, complete with army-style nicknames: Mo, Woody, Digger and K-bar. They lit the place up, did a lot of great work and have moved on to greater things. Natalie Dignam (Digger), for example, is working with AmeriCorps and Claire Woodcock (Woody) is heading to DC for a job in talk radio.
Three-fourths of this summer’s team arrived on Monday, and while they haven’t acquired a team name yet, they have really hit the ground running.
Sophie McKibben has a project assignment working on a photographic history of working lives in the North Country. Amy Feiereisel will have a primary focus in writing for NCPR about food and other topics related to sustaining life in a sustainable manner. And Bobby Baird is one of our two MacDonald interns, chosen from among the staff of the Hill News at St. Lawrence University for a full-time eight-week intensive in journalism. Another MacDonald intern, Charlotte Crawford, will clock in this Monday, completing the crew.
Each year I tell the interns two things: a) that I want them to function as an independent production unit within the station; and b) that I don’t want them to wait for someone to tell them what to work on. They should conspire, make plans, pitch proposals, and seek out the resources and any training they need to make it happen.
This year’s team has taken this to heart, having already pitched their first foray, made the necessary contacts and taken to the field. Their first outing is to document the “Sleepless in Lake Placid” filmmaking challenge and other stories arising from the Lake Placid Film Forum. Bobby, for example, is pursuing a sideline focused on a keyboard accompanist to silent films, once a common occupation for American musicians, but now somewhat a lost art.
And Amy has also made plans for her first writings, making a date to accompany a forager for wild foods, and Sophie is also chasing down photo archives in various places for source materials for her work history project.
The only thing better than having a lot of youthful energy around the place is to have that energy be self-directed, ambitious, confident and competent. Expect great things. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.