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Voices of COVID-19

Loyola’s Radio Storytelling class shares stories of frontline workers during the pandemic

Reporters are trained to react to breaking news at a moment’s notice. It’s not unusual to have a story you’ve planned for weeks take a back seat to live, in-the-moment content.

Media students interviewing a student building an outdoor art display
Student reporters performing interviews before the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic had a similar impact on the Radio Storytelling class taught by Jenny Glick, lecturer in journalism and WTOP reporter, during the spring semester.

The students worked hard to interview people they knew over the phone. These stories were so important for them to tell because they mattered to the students, and those are the best stories: ones that are emotional and that the reporter cares about.

Students had already submitted proposals for their final projects involving poverty in Baltimore when courses were forced to move online due to rising COVID-19 cases across the country. As students returned home to continue their classes virtually for the remainder of the spring semester, the class’s planned project came to a halt. With everyone confined to their homes during the quarantine, the story topic naturally had to be COVID-19-related.

The Radio Storytelling course transitioned to highlighting the Voices of COVID-19 through shared stories of frontline health care workers, businesses, shopping, and graduation experiences during the pandemic.

At the time, the students never could have expected that the project they would undertake would achieve national recognition.

“I met with students via Zoom both individually and collectively as a group,” Glick said. “They worked hard to interview people they knew over the phone. These stories were so important for them to tell because they mattered to the students, and those are the best stories: ones that are emotional and that the reporter cares about.”

A grid of smiling students from a Zoom call

The stories highlighted the real, raw, and intense moments of the pandemic across five different states. The goal of the broadcast was to showcase the various impacts of COVID-19 and how although we are all physically apart, we are all in this together.

“When we were sent home due to COVID-19, I had to learn how to quickly adjust to doing work in a house with other family members,” said Emma Tommey, ’21, a communication major from Millersville, Md. “Professor Glick was very accommodating if we had a technical question.”

John Devecka, operations manager for WLOY, decided to submit the Voices of COVID-19 broadcast for the 2020 College Broadcasters, Inc. National Student Electronic Media Convention (NSEMC). It was announced on Sept. 2, 2020, that the broadcast was accepted as a finalist for Best Special Broadcast by College Broadcasters, Inc. The winners will be announced online during the convention on Oct. 28-30, 2020.

“When I received the email from Professor Glick saying we had been nominated for the award, I was so happy,” Tommey said. “I’m so impressed with the finalized version of the broadcast and my peers who worked so hard.”

Members of the Voices of COVID-19 broadcast include Julianna Capuano, ’22, and Alex Mitsopoulos, ’22, (anchors); Bridgett Ballard, ’20, and Ryan Whitley, ’21, (executive producers); Madeline Buscone, ’21, Rachel Hoos, ’22, Diana Jasany, ’22, Dominika Ortonowski, ’20, Caroline Pierno, ’20, Gabriella Pirisino, ’21, Justin Strott, ’21, Caroline Suozzi, ’22, and Emma Toomey ’21, (reporters).

“I’m very proud of my students’ efforts,” said Glick.

“They worked hard to write, interview, and produce these stories. Their production showed a little piece of what was happening in the world, and something that everyone could relate to during the pandemic.”

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