What is it really like being in radio?
That’s the question our youth got to explore in one of our Summer Career Enrichment Highlights with Brandy Lindsey from Q101!
Brandy got involved when On the Road started, serving as a Community Teacher during our first year.
This past summer, she partnered with us to bring a group of middle school youth to Harrisonburg Radio Group and chat about the field of radio, what it’s like being an on-air personality, and what actually happens in a studio.
Normally, our youth would have visited the radio station in person, but this summer, we had to transition the program to be a virtual workshop.
But, luckily, the excitement still came through!
“They seemed stoked.” Brandy said of the youth who attended. “Seeing an actual radio station, for them, that’s really cool. And obviously they were seeing it virtually, and it was still really cool for them … so that was a good thing.”
Brandy said she was also excited to have the opportunity to share her passion with the next generation, especially since she’s often asked about how to get started in a career in radio.
Sharing her personal story with the youth, Brandy chatted about how she got started when she joined a radio club her freshman year at Radford University. Brandy worked her way up after paying her dues, as she explained, eventually getting an hour-long show in college.
After several more years in radio, she eventually found herself in Harrisonburg in 2011 to take a position at Q101, where she currently serves as the Program Director and the host of The Q Morning Show.
Q101 is currently one of eight stations at Harrisonburg Radio Group, which is where our youth got to tour while meeting with Brandy over Google Meet.
To make it happen, Brandy hooked her phone to a mini-tripod and took the youth on a virtual tour through the whole building of Harrisonburg Radio Group–from the main lobby to the sales conference rooms, and all the way to the actual radio studio, where so much of the magic happens.
“It was pretty simple, actually,” Brandy said of having to transition the experience to a virtual meeting. “It’s amazing what we’ve learned to do during a pandemic.”
While there, the youth also got to meet with various departments, including sales, production, and traffic, among others, to see how everyone works together to keep the radio station running smoothly.
But the most exciting part for the youth? Seeing how it all goes down when you’re live on air!
“I told them what I could show them on air, so we actually talked to RJ Kelly, who’s our afternoon host on WSIG, cause he was actually live in the studio [while the youth were here],” Brandy explained. So they got a chance to actually see a live break being done on the air and then got to see what our system looks like and all of that fun stuff.”
To conclude the workshop, the youth got to ask questions and hear more about what it’s like being in professional radio.
“They asked about “‘How long of a day is it?’ and ‘What does your day look like?’” Brandy said, adding that she often has to break the misunderstanding that radio personalities just come in, do their 4-hour show, and leave!
Brandy said sharing her story helped reconnect her to her passion while demonstrating the importance of On the Road’s mission.
“I think we can forget the magic cause we do it all the time, but they do really get excited to see that this is what it looks like and this is how it happens,” Brandy said.
Brandy, who grew up in VA Beach, said she didn’t necessarily set out to be in radio, partially because she didn’t have a full grasp on the various paths she could take once she graduated high school.
But career programs, like those we have at On the Road, can make a huge difference for youth, she said.
“I think you’re better prepared [for the future] if you are in a career program like On the Road,” Brandy said . “You have a better grasp of, ‘Okay, this was fun, but it’s not really my bag,’ or ‘This was really cool. I’d like to know more.’
Brandy added that these experiences also show youth, in a tangible, hands-on way, that there are many opportunities and many paths before them—especially for those who have been with On the Road for several years.
“The kids that I did the [Career Enrichment Course] with in the first year, they’re all, I believe, seniors in high school right now. So, to think, if you’ve done [On the Road] from the beginning of middle school, how many different careers have you had the chance to actually get a more in-depth look at?
“That, alone, is a huge step in figuring out what you’re going to do … and knowing what you’re going to do when you get to college,” Brandy said.
When asked what she would want to say to a young person interested in radio, Brandy said she’d tell them that they “have to have a passion for it.”
“We are here to entertain, but we’re also here to inform and to help the community. So, that’s what it’s got to be about: It’s got to be a love for community and a love for music and a love for radio. That’s how you thrive,” Brandy said, adding that the “the listeners, the people, the community” are definitely her favorite part of the job.
And her focus on building community is why Brandy says she’s continued to support our mission at On the Road.
“The reason it works well and the reason that I continue to support On the Road Collaborative … is that we have the same common goal, which is to help the community,” Brandy explained, adding that being involved with our programs makes her feel like she’s taking that commitment to another level.
“Doing this [with On the Road] definitely makes me feel like, ‘Okay, there’s a reason you’re here and it’s to make an impact in some way. And maybe this is that way.”
To learn more about being a Community Teacher, visit our website.