Host of TED Radio Hour brings hands-on course to SMPA

Media Credit: Lydia Francis | Hatchet Photographer
Guy Raz, a Shapiro Fellow in SMPA, teaches a class about how to write, produce and interview in the style of public radio. SMPA purchased special recording equipment for the students to use in the class.

Video didn’t kill the radio star – at least not in the School of Media and Public Affairs.

Radio may not be the most popular medium for today’s journalists, but at GW, a radio host is looking to make sure that it stays relevant.

The host of TED Radio Hour, Guy Raz, is one of SMPA’s two Shapiro Fellows this semester. His course, “Making NPR Style Radio,” aims to educate students about the ins and outs of public radio.

The class is a practical workshop that teaches students how to write, produce and interview in the style of popular radio programs, including Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, which can draw more than 3 million listeners every week, and All Things Considered.

Raz, who has worked in the radio industry for nearly two decades, said the skills used in radio are also useful to reporters who work in different mediums.

“You become a better television journalist if you understand radio,” he said. “You become a better radio journalist if you understand print.”

Raz was NPR’s youngest overseas bureau chief, first in Berlin and then in London. He hosted All Things Considered for three years and helped transform the audio newsmagazine, changing the format of the show to feature a “cover story.”

Kim Gross, the associate director at SMPA, said the school has purchased recording equipment for the class. She declined to provide the cost of the equipment.

Gross said the school was interested in purchasing the audio gear as it transitions to a new curriculum, and even though Raz’s course will end with his fellowship, other classes will be able to use the equipment.

“It is a tremendous opportunity for our students to have a course with a premiere radio journalist like Guy Raz,” she said.

Raz said practice with the devices would allow students to come out of the course more prepared to do audio journalism.

“I’ve taught this course at other schools. In some schools, the students have had access to their own personal recording device. And in some schools, they haven’t had any access to devices or very limited access,” he said. “In schools where they’ve had easy access, preferably access to their own device, we do a lot more radio reporting and explaining is a lot more intensive.”

Ira Chinoy, an associate professor in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, said radio programming was still an important topic to teach journalism students.

“Radio is an important medium for news,” Chinoy said. “It did not die off as newer media came along like TV and more recently the Internet.”

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