Jenna Tucker '09
Midday Host & Digital Director 95.5 WFMS, Indianapolis
**Jenna recently accepted a job at 95.5 WFMS in Indianapolis prior to this interview. Congrats, Jenna and welcome home!
When you first began your journey at UIndy, what were your career aspirations? Did they change during your time here?
I actually came in undeclared. It was between Communication and Business and they put me in Intro to Electronic Media and Accounting. The latter was the worst class I've ever taken so it was an easy choice. Audrey Cunningham was my adviser and she put me in Applied Radio. I actually did an internship in high school at a station and hated it. But, the staff (student and professors) and the courses were awesome. I met my favorite people in my three years in the program, many of which I still talk to. I learned a lot and I decided to pursue radio when I graduated.
Were you on management? If so, what year(s)?
I was! I was Program/Music Director my junior year and Traffic Director my senior year. So, 2007-2008 and 2008-2009.
What was the first industry job you earned out of school?
I sent my resume and demo (an actual burned CD in a variety of colorful jewel cases) to every station within an hour of my hometown. I was living with my parents again after school and ready to land a gig. It worked though—the GM at a cluster in Fort Wayne hired me on in a position usually given to a paid intern. I worked the front desk and helped promotions out at random events. Although, everyone thought I was an intern. That quickly transitioned to Promotions Director when the current person decided to move to Texas. I did that for three months and then was thrown into full time on air as the Midday On Air Talent for WBYR.
What’s your current job and exactly do you do?
I currently do Middays (10 - 3) at New Country 105.1 (KNCI) in Sacramento, CA.
What’s an average day like for you?
An AVERAGE day is getting in around 8:30 and perusing the local news sites for blog content, as well as trending stories. I like to write these before I go on air so I can focus on my show and get a lay of the land on what I am going to talk about. Then I am on air from 10 - 3. During that time I "own" the station Facebook and post my required 3+ pieces of content, as well as respond to comments and messages. I also continue to look at country news and Sacramento news in case something breaks. A couple days a week I have to link the logs so that everything transitions smoothly (sweepers into songs and commercial stop sets). I voice track a weekend show one or two times a month and once a month do a live one. I also do any production for endorsements after I get off air.
What’s your favorite part of the job? Why?
I love the digital aspect. I think there is only so much I can do to control my ratings, but one thing I have complete control over is the content I pick to write about and share on social media. They aren't all winners, but I definitely wear the digital crown in this cluster. Some on air people don't care about it, which is a shame because at some point I believe it will be just as important if not more so than on air. If you have original content and you're able to bring listeners to digital, you can leverage it and sell it. It's a big no-brainer to me. Plus, it's a skill that you can 100% use in other career fields. I am currently taking a coding class because I'd like to be able to work with websites more and know what I am doing.
How did WICR help shape you and prepare you for your career?
Oh man, I wouldn't be in radio at all without WICR. The training is insane. You actually get to be on air with someone training you and showing you how to do different things—a music show, board opping sports and talking shows (which is essentially a producing gig) apparently digital stuff too now, which is awesome. The equipment you use is the same in a lot of places—I currently use AV, we have a smart surface board in our studio, VoxPro and Adobe Audition. Being on staff and putting in the extra hours definitely helps you and you get a lot more hands on experience than you would without it. Plus, internships are KEY. Indy is a top 40 market and getting in with a station or company there is a huge opportunity. I sadly interned at a record company and with Live Nation because I thought I wanted to pursue live events (still great opportunities). And, being an intern is THE BEST WAY to get a foot in the door.
What’s a favorite memory you have from working at WICR?
Honestly, probably doing our senior project. Like I said, I was in the program with my best friends and all but two of us in the project were graduating from Radio/TV. I Still maintain that Real World: Indianapolis was the best senior project the department has ever seen. Also, the Radio 5 All Nighters were always super interesting. And going to Las Vegas for the NAB/BEA convention was cool. I still have my plaque for college air personality.
What is your advice to students wanting to get into radio?
BE ON STAFF AND DO AN INTERNSHIP.
If you take being on WICR seriously, and you want to do radio, you HAVE to do more than just be in class. This is one of the best programs out there where you get to learn the stuff we actually do in "professional" radio every day. Plus, Scott is a great resource. He knows a lot of people.
I HATE networking, but you need to do it. And it can be as easy as staying in contact with the people you are at WICR with. I got my current job because our old engineer reached out to me when I moved to Sacramento. He's the chief engineer for the market and asked me if I was interested in weekends. I was working a full time job somewhere else but said sure. Less than a year later I was full time. Which also leads to...
TAKE THE PART TIME GIG.
This is one is so crucial. I stayed part time when I was in grad school and when I moved to Sacramento just for fun. It allowed me to stay current and grow my skills. Plus, it let's you prove yourself and introduce yourself to new people (aka networking!) and if you're good at what you do, you'll be first on the list for a full time opening. Also, the jobs that I have loved the most started part time. You get time to evaluate the environment, the company, and the actual job itself.
Be willing to explore different areas. A lot of positions now include more than one thing—On Air/Production, On Air/Digital, Promotions/On Air etc. The more well-rounded you are, the better!
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I hate this question, haha. I honestly have no idea. Hopefully somewhere where I am happy. Ideally on a giant dog farm because I won the lottery and was able to rescue 800 dogs. Probably closer to family and hopefully knowing how to build a website.