Julia Ferguson ’16 is spending her summer learning the ins-and-outs of the broadcasting world in an internship that will continue into the fall at North Country Public Radio. Ferguson, a comparative literature major, is undertaking this internship through Hamilton’s Academic Semester in the Adirondacks, launching this academic year under General Director Janelle Schwartz.
The program consists of both academic courses on-location in the Adirondacks, as well as a student internship component, for which Schwartz has contacts throughout the park. Ferguson's internship at North Country Radio has her working primarily in the High Peaks region, and living in Lake Placid over the summer.
“We have the choice of working with schools, businesses, non-profits and farms that operate in the Park,” explained Ferguson. “(Schwartz) mentioned that the public radio station might be interested in having an intern and I jumped at the opportunity.” As a component of the Adirondacks Program, Ferguson’s summer internship will turn into a credit-bearing course come the fall, along with regular classroom meetings and wide-ranging Adirondack experiences.
Though she may be relatively new to North Country Public Radio, Ferguson has just completed her first broadcast covering the opening of the Wild Center Museum of Natural History's newest addition, the Wild Walk, an above-canopy experience complete with educational exhibits and activities. Ferguson is also responsible for research relating to long-term projects, as well as occasional photography work.
Her internship is not only rooted in radio, however, as NCPR’s location in the Adirondacks provides ample opportunities for field-work and exploration.
Ferguson was recently able to accompany Brian Mann and James Schlett, author of A Not Too Greatly Changed Eden: The Story of the Philosophers' Camp in the Adirondacks on a boating trip across Follensby Pond to the Philospher’s Camp, a storied and nearly two centuries-old cabin famous for hosting such intellectuals as Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Following that trip,” she said, “Brian and I paddled with Bill McKibben and "heard his take on the re-emerging nature there and its example of a healed landscape.”
Ferguson says that her interest in broadcasting based on broader passions. “I'm interested in storytelling, and radio's a great medium for that,” she claimed, adding that working in radio has piqued her interest in sound design more generally. “It's a pretty short distance from the stereo to our ears, and I like that immediacy… I've had a good head start on sound engineering in this work because I took Dave Stoughton's sound design course at Hamilton. That class comes highly recommended.”
Outside of a newfound interest in sound design, Ferguson also claims that she has learned much about ethical codes of behavior, not only in radio, but in journalism more broadly. “Most importantly, I've learned about journalism ethics,” she said.
“Our culture is deeply saturated in media with varying degrees of ethical conduct. My boss, Brian Mann, has highlighted good journalism practice/ethics throughout the summer and I now have a more discerning eye for unethical or questionable news sources.”
Ferguson says that she has greatly enjoyed her introductory experience in radio, traveling to conduct and record interviews, researching and meeting new people. However, her experience, both at NCPR and in the Adirondacks, has only started. “The Academic Semester in the Adirondacks offers a wide spectrum of hands-on internships during the fall semester,” she concluded, “and I'm lucky to have started mine early!” Ferguson's NCPR internship is supported by the Summer Internship Support Fund managed by Hamilton's Career Center.
NCPR Blogs with Julia Ferguson: