YOUNG AMERICAN BROADCASTERS
“My industry was trying to think what we could do for young people,” said Blanquita Cullum, founder and president of Young American Broadcasters (YAB), in relating the genesis of the program aimed at college students. “Helen Krieble encouraged me. We wanted a plan for them to become ethical journalists.” YAB takes young people and puts them through an internship program that gives them a start in the field of talk radio, the only journalistic medium with a large number of conservative voices-unlike the milieu in which college students are usually placed.
“College campuses are not an ideal environment,” said Cullum. “There are not a lot of conservative voices on campus.”
“Farm clubs for rising radio stars no longer exist. And, unfortunately, in this time of corporate consolidation in the media and Internet, there is no outreach to college students who want to pursue a career in talk radio and Internet broadcasting,” says four-year-old YAB. “The concept of Young American Broadcasters (YAB), sponsored by the National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts (NARTSH) and others, is to encourage and inspire an ethnically diverse college population to become broadcasters on talk radio and the Internet.” Cullum, a 25-year veteran of radio and television whose “BQ View” radio program is carried by the Radio America Network, is president of NARTSH, which shares sponsorship of YAB along with others such as the Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation and the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation.
“We teach our students how to do stories,” said Cullum. “The majority of them, even if they won’t be conservative, at least they’ll be fair. . . . We have internships that are year-round. Our kids cover the White House, the Supreme Court. We teach them how to write, how to book [guests for radio shows].” The College Media News/YAB News Service is the beneficiary of much of the interns’ work, said Cullum. Not all of YAB’s interns have gone into broadcasting, she said. “Some of them have gone to work for major companies. Some are on the Hill.”
Sometimes, interns get to do unusual things. “One of our young students went with me to Saudi Arabia,” she said. “She broadcast to 800 college stations while we were there.”
YAB also gives out a $5,000 scholarship and several $1,000 scholarships. YAB makes an effort to attract a diversity of people to its programs, Cullum said, although it works with conservative groups such as ISI and Young America’s Foundation (YAF) to find them. “Some kids look pretty preppy. Some kids look like they’re in a gang. They all get along. They bond,” she said.
“It’s a typical internship,” said Nicole Crowley, executive director of YAB. “They get college credit for it.” Crowley has interned at CNN’s Washington bureau, worked for an ABC affiliate, produced “BQ View” and Fred Barnes’ weekly program, and worked at Roll Call, a newspaper that covers Congress.
She said that YAB includes lessons on media bias for its kids. “We tell them, ‘Look how the use of a verb can sway a story.'” She noted a major difference between conservative talk show hosts and others. “Conservative talk show hosts take callers who disagree with them,” she said. “When you disagree with a liberal, it’s like you’re attacking their first-born child.”
“Each August we invite and fly in the top 20 finishers of our annual scholarship competition to Washington, D.C.,” says YAB literature. “This is a four-day event that allows students to interact with nationally-known figures from talk radio and Internet broadcast. They attend seminars on a variety of topics; each student broadcasts live on a national network and receives a tape. This conference also affords an excellent opportunity for networking with students and professionals from around the country.”
One recent YABer is well on his way. “Ben Ferguson, our 2002 Young American Broadcaster of the Year, has his own national radio show!. . .,” reports YAB’s website. “Go to www.radioamerica.org for local affiliates and listen in!”
Asked why talk radio has become a haven for conservatives, Cullum replied, “Talk radio has been the underground. . . . Liberals don’t have good hosts. You need someone who is a story-teller, provocative, opinionated. You have to be entertainers.” And, she said, talk radio “is more intimate than television. The secret of talk radio is that you’re not talking to your guest. You’re talking to your audience.”
YAB may be reached at 1030 15th St., N.W., Suite 1028, Washington, DC 20005 (202-408-8255; fax: 202-408-5188; website: www.yab-online.org; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).