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Arizona State University students are producing in-depth news radio stories for NPR member station KJZZ under a new partnership between the radio station and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Thirteen students are learning how to report, write and produce long-form stories for public radio in an advanced radio reporting course taught by former KJZZ reporter and anchor Paul Atkinson. KJZZ will broadcast select student stories during the station’s regular news programming as part of the partnership.
“We have a great deal of respect for the Cronkite School, and we look forward to the content that the students will be providing,” said Mark Moran, KJZZ’s associate general manager for news.
Each student in the course is responsible for developing five two- to three-minute narratives focusing on local issues that impact Valley residents and that go beyond the typical 30-second commercial news story. Students are tackling topics such as light rail, the economic impact of the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team and the legacy of the 2009 H1N1 virus scare. Stories are produced at the Cronkite School, and students then have the opportunity to work with KJZZ professionals to put them on the air.
“Having a partnership like this gives students an opportunity that they’re not going to get at another school,” said Atkinson, a Cronkite School faculty associate and director of communications for ASU’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. “They get to work with top-notch staff from one of the leading public radio stations in the country.”
Atkinson, who spent six years at KJZZ and has more than 20 years of broadcasting experience, said he teaches students how to produce stories in a variety of formats, including general news, analysis and features, and how to craft layered public radio stories through quality sound gathering, writing and audio production.
The advanced radio reporting course also features guest speakers from KJZZ and other area radio stations. Speakers include reporters, anchors and radio management professionals on topics ranging from story planning and developing on-air broadcasting skills to careers in radio.
KJZZ is the NPR member station in Phoenix and broadcasts on 91.5 FM and at kjzz.org. The station is owned by the Maricopa County Community Colleges and operates from the Rio Salado College campus in Tempe. KJZZ features award-winning programming and news coverage that has been recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and many others.
The advanced radio reporting course is one of several innovative programs in which Cronkite students produce content for professional media outlets. Others include: Carnegie-Knight News21, an annual investigative multimedia reporting initiative that sends students around the country to report and produce in-depth, multimedia reports on topics of national significance; Cronkite News Service, an immersive professional program in which students produce stories for Arizona news organizations on multiple platforms; Cronkite NewsWatch, an award-winning 30-minute nightly student newscast; and Cronkite’s Spring Training Reporting Program, a course for students covering Major League Baseball’s spring training for professional media outlets.