When I arrived at UMass in 19seventywhatever, the sum total of my electronics was an electric typewriter my dad got me for Christmas and an alarm clock radio that cost me twenty bucks. (It looked a little like the one on the left.) Most kids had stereos, but I couldn't afford one. One guy on the hall had a television.
Now nobody has a radio. If you're a journalism student, this is a big mistake. Radio news shows now feature some of the best storytelling out there. Professor Nancy Cohen is one of those storytellers, by the way. (And there are some good public radio internships if this strikes your fancy.) Go to the Salvation Army and buy a radio for a couple of bucks. Put it on your nightstand. Tune the radio to 88.5, the UMass public radio station WFCR. Set the alarm for, say 6:30 a.m. (I know, I know. Just do it.)
As you are trying to wake up and get ready for class, the news stories of National Public Radio's Morning Edition begin to seep into your brain. You'll arrive at your 9:05 , already knowing that the entire economy of Greece is about to go down the toilet, while your fellow students are still trying to get caught up on yesterday's news. Color your professor impressed!
Here are some other ways radio can make you smarter.
Listen to Marketplace. This business show helps you understand the economy, and does so with some interesting stories, like this piece on how small business entrepreneurs are thriving in the ruins of Haiti.
Listen to Fresh Air with Terry Gross. In Amherst, it's on WFCR at 7 p.m. Terry interviews actors, musicians, journalists, authors, comedians, politicians--everyone! It's always interesting to hear how a pro does an interview. Recent guests include former WaPo journalist Tom Ricks, and Jane Mayer, who writes for the New Yorker. Good stuff.
Check out On Point with Tom Ashbrook. This talk show features newsmaker panels on topics ranging from climate change to politics to movies to music to whatever.
I could go on and on: This American Life, Only A Game, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, Metropolitan Opera on Saturday afternoons.
But give this a try. Listen on the radio, or listen on the web and let me know how it works for you.