KFRM Internship- Taylor James

The internship for Taylor Communications, or more specifically, KFRM 550 AM began in late May. The station I was based out of happened to be in my hometown of Clay Center. It is a medium size radio station that shares office and studio space with KCLY, which is a FM sister station of 550 AM. No fancy title, I was just known around the office as the summer intern.

For the first couple of weeks my duties consisted of researching issues facing the wheat harvest in Oklahoma and Kansas. KFRM’s broadcast region stretches into several states, but the main focus for the wheat tour was everything north of Interstate 40 and the Kansas-Nebraska border. I spent about a week looking up which varieties of wheat where the most prevalent in the area, communication with extension agents to glean local information and researching diseases and pests that were likely to be harmful in 2010.

While I was at the station and not on the road, I helped record some advertisements. This was a great learning tool as it familiarized me with being able to run the equipment and modify ads so that they were a better fit for the customer. The sound equipment became vital to be able to use for the next part of my internship at county fairs as well as recording sound bites for portfolios, scholarships, etc.

I began the wheat tour by traveling down to Yukon, Oklahoma on the last week of May. Along the way I stopped at a few northern and central Oklahoma grain elevators to get a grasp on how soon they would be ripe to harvest in their regions. Anxiously awaiting combines and harvest crews I was dismayed upon arriving in Yukon and realized they were still a day or two away from cutting. While this may not seem like a big deal, the radio station had already allotted time for eight radio broadcasts a day from the wheat tour. They also had sponsors for the tour that were expecting to get in their radio plugs. I was able to scrounge enough reports to keep the places filled until two days of rain hit the region. Still, there were radio spots with my name on them back at the station. I was able to rely on public speaking and common ground to find people associated with the harvest and get them to talk to me about what they had seen or heard. This phase of the internship was a bit like trial by fire; I hadn’t had much experience at getting interviewees and was placed in a position of finding 5-6 a day. It was a great time to realize the scope and weight of my job.

After spending four weeks and a shade of 6500 miles in the Harvest Tour Chevy Equinox, I traded it in for a regular cab Dodge pickup and cargo trailer for the 2010 County Fair Tour. Using this I would travel to 30 county fairs in Kansas. County fairs ranged from Syracuse, Kansas in western Kansas to Cowley County in the southeast.

The first county fair was in Great Bend, Kansas. It became evident to me that this part of the job would be considerably easier to accomplish as some interviewees were turned away. Pulling into a fairgrounds with a radio truck and trailer was like an ice cream truck to some of these 4-Hers, parents, extension agents and fair board members. Although there were nine spots to fill every day on the air, I usually ended up being done recording within an hour or two of being on the grounds. Some kids were shy, but would quickly open up when they got past the part of having large headphones on their heads and began to talk about their projects. Being a 4-H member as I kid I had several projects, but there were a lot I had never heard of while being at the county fairs. Turtles, mice, snakes, robotics, even alternative energy were projects that came up while on the road. It was also greatly helpful to find extension agents and other people of interest at the fair to shift the spotlight onto fair activities and other community aspects of the fair.

Throughout the summer I learned a lot about deadline responsibility, time management, being able to work with on air talent and sponsors and gave me my first taste of professional employment. Being able to fill those spots on the air allowed me to better utilize my location and communication skills to make sure the employees back at the station didn’t have to do extra work to juggle time slots. This was a first time for me working with sponsors and receiving a new list of them every day for the fair tour proved to be difficult to change and work into a program that I had to keep versatile to be able to develop into completion every day. My internship ended in August officially, but I was asked to join the National Association of Farm Broadcasters at their National Convention in Kansas City in November. While there I met a large group of smart, experienced talent that offered advice and career opportunities down the road. The most rewarding part of my internship was being chosen for the Glen Kummerow Memorial Scholarship and being able to talk in front of the convention. This was the most rewarding to me as I was able to tell my story and how I had benefited from being a part of agricultural communications and agriculture radio.