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WSLR Testimonials

On February 12, 2024, I had the opportunity to sit on stage among two other singer-songwriters who I admire: Tanya Radtke and Matthew Frost. We took turns sharing stories and playing our songs for a listening crowd who beautifully reacted to every bit of the energy we put into our performance. The stage was perfectly lit up and Doug Conroy the audio engineer made such a nice job in making us sound nice and balanced. After our one-hour performance, an open mic was set up and 9 wonderful songwriters shared their songs and stories as well; to me being on the other side of the stage at the end was such a treat and the icing of the cake. The Fogartyville “singer-songwriter in the round” monthly event series, is a Sarasota treasure that I really hope can be turned into a permanent programming as there are so many of us songwriters who craved a space like this in which to share our most intimate songs. Cheers to all of those who attended last night’s concert, to those at Fogartyville who set up the event, and to those who make music and share it.
Andres Colin
Local Musician
It’s a great venue… and it was a treat to play for a crowd of attentive people. It’s a beautiful spot… and everybody was listening and seemed very appreciative. Everybody seemed very professional … so yeah A+. Really.
Tumbledown House
Saloon Jazz Band
I love the audience here at Fogartyville. The radio station has cultivated a really listening audience that is with you every minute of the show. .... It feels very intimate but yet expansive.
Phoebe Hunt
I love this place. I like it so much … You’re in this beautiful space and the sound, the lighting, everything is great. I had a huge good time. The audience was so friendly I couldn’t believe it. It just doesn’t get any better.
I loved it. The sound was amazing. I was treated so well… They took such good care of me. The room was packed. …. It just felt like it was a warm hug, like a real community vibe. It was beautiful. It was awesome… It’s a top-notch experience.
Jess Klein
Singer Songwriter
Playing here is so fun. I love that it’s community-run … and I love that I got to be part of playing here. This is a really inspiring place and a great venue in terms of the sound and the vibe. It’s really cool.
David Wilcox
Singer Songwriter
"I definitely enjoyed playing Fogartyville in Sarasota! It's a nice sized room with good acoustics, a quality sound system and a pro-sized stage. This is indeed a "listening room." Playing Forgartyville allowed me to connect with the exact crowd I was hoping to see in Sarasota. With WSLR broadcasting right next door, the entire location could be considered a true “preservation hall” experience — this place is all about the music!"
Steve Forbert
Americana Musician
Wow, Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center was a blast last night. So great listening to Rebekah and Kip and playing songs alongside them. We are lucky to have such a great venue with awesome folks running it and so many people listening and enjoying!
Doug Burns
Local Musician
"I am now terminal with stage 4 metastatic sarcoma. My body is riddled with nasty cancer cells eating my muscles, organs, and future. At least it hasn't started eating my brain (brain MRI confirmed yesterday). The goal is to remain comfortable as I leave this body. I read a lot, and was especially drawn to the call for community journalists. My whole being screamed, "I want to go!!" but reality kicked in and once again regretted my condition. I also regret how COVID and health hassles kept me away from WSLR and Fogartyille these last 5 years after leaving St. Lucia. I think you are much like me in that you pick up on the energy of others. If we talked at length I'd be surprised if we did not share many traits. Fogartyville felt like home, the people felt like family, and I wanted to be there. My time with the news team was treasured and important to my health as I have tried to keep and make new friendships while living in isolation. You helped me. This is a big thank you for all you are, all you do, and the people who believe in your leadership.
Vana Prewitt
Former News Team Volunteer
In my time at WSLR News, I have gained valuable, hands-on journalistic experience. Prior to my time with WSLR, I had the desire to grow and the basics, but I lacked the confidence to pursue my ambitions as a journalist. Through hands-on, real-world experience, WSLR allowed me to see that my career ambitions were not as unattainable as I had previously thought. I had never anticipated what I would’ve been able to accomplish in my four months with the WSLR news team. Since becoming a member of the news team, I have gotten the opportunity to report on causes I am passionate about, conduct interviews with important members of the community and even had the chance to be live on air and talk about myself and my journalistic ambitions during a fall fund drive. I already had the desire to learn and some general skills, but being a member of WSLR’s news team gave me confidence and the tools I needed to succeed going forth in my career. I highly recommend this internship to future students who would like to lay the ground floor and gain the confidence to forge a successful career in journalism going forward!
Sarah Malickson
Fall 2023 News Intern
My time with WSLR + Fogartyville was very well spent as I learned new and valuable skills that will assist me in my future endeavors. I learned how to analyze the context of an assignment in order to adjust my writing style in an appropriate manner. I also learned how to effectively use Canva to create various marketing pieces such as web banners, posters, and flyers. With developing technology, almost every company maintains an online presence; I assisted WSLR in maintaining their X page. I also learned how to navigate WordPress and create new pages in order to provide information to the local community. I met many wonderful people during my time with WSLR and I’ve made valuable connections. I look forward to working with WSLR in the future.
Ariana Lockman
Fall 2023 Communications Intern
This semester on the news team, my time has been marked by a variety of experiences that have significantly influenced my skills and outlook. I've interviewed community members, engaged with political candidates, attended commission meetings, and crafted compelling stories and headlines—immersing myself in the heart of the community. This internship not only deepened my understanding of the community but also sharpened my communication skills. As a writer, I discovered a different side of storytelling through journalism, resembling the narrative intricacies of fiction. Beyond recordings, the development of my "radio voice" has impacted my everyday communication, making me speak with greater clarity and thoughtfulness. I've learned to navigate effective communication with coworkers and recognize the importance of feedback. Overall, this experience has equipped me with a valuable toolkit of journalistic and life skills.
Dania Hefley
Fall 2023 News Intern
WSLR has given me a forgiving and educational opportunity to experiment with what a journalist career looks like in the real world. I have been able to develop my time management, writing, editing, audio, and people skills throughout the semester, and it has inspired me to pursue professional writing jobs in the future.
Emy McGuire
Fall 2023 News Intern
While this might not have been my first semester at WSLR, I believe this semester proved to be one of jumping out of my comfort zone. Through this opportunity, I have been able to push myself to go to places and events I might not have otherwise, and speak to people I certainly wouldn't have talked to. This internship granted me the wonderful opportunity of reporting first hand on a midterm election - at a local and state level. How fortunate for me that the first election I was able to vote in, I also got to be directly involved in! I have learned about the ecosystems that create local politics, how rhetoric turns into policy and spoken directly to the people that helped shape it and are affected by it. I was able to produce a 30-minute radio show on a topic I researched immensely and was passionate about, and one of my pieces was aired nationally. I wouldn't have been able to reach these journalism goals if not for the guidance, support and encouragement from WSLR - especially Onyx, Arlene, and Peter. By building my radio portfolio at WSLR, I have been selected (among 16 other individuals) to take part in NPR's Next Generation Radio training program. I couldn't be more grateful for this experience.
Basil Pursley
Spring and Summer Intern 2022
Over the course of the last 8 weeks, I have learned a lot about the Sarasota Community via reporting on the happenings in the area. I have grown a level of care and connection with this community which I have not had with any other physical community in my life thus far. It is incredibly exciting to have the privilege to help the community in such a direct way, a way I wouldn’t have expected. I began this internship only hoping for additional journalism experience, as I had intended to eventually go into gaming and film journalism - but I have found a much deeper appreciation for reporting on policy, community events and the small moments of activism that ultimately influence the bigger picture of how we interact with issues. There are so many fantastic things happening on the community level that can make a bigger impact than I thought, and honestly more than what I believe most people think. It is an incredibly valuable skill to know how to get in touch with those organizing protests and events in your local area, and I think it’s something that in the age of the internet - many lose touch with. While I generally do wish I would have been able to do more field work, talk to more people and create more well produced shows I am still very proud of my work and I look forward to continuing it and continuing to learn along the way. I genuinely believe that this internship has altered the course of what I want to do for a career. Regardless, I intend to continue and get better at community engagement and advocating for it - especially for those in my age group. WSLR provides a service that I was completely unaware of before my time here, and while I partially feel a bit foolish in my ignorance about the importance of community radio and journalism - I am overwhelmingly grateful to be a part of it.
Basil Pursley
2022 Fall News Intern
I think this internship was a great experience to have. I got to interview all sorts of people from complete strangers to state representatives. I had a platform that I could use to reach the people of Sarasota, which is something not many people have. I greatly improved my writing skills and my audio editing abilities. Although I haven’t chosen a career path yet, having this experience was a decision I don't regret even if I don't become a news reporter. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart WSLR for having me.
Jesus Arenas
Fall 2022 News Intern
This has been a tremendously helpful internship experience for me. I was able to collaborate closely with a new team, was able to learn deeply about journalistic ethics and standards, and drastically improve the production value of my pieces through constant feedback from supervisors. The story structure was also improved throughout the course thanks to the advice given at each of our Monday meetings, and I was able to incorporate suggestions for lead in's and chronologies that greatly aided the storytelling aspect of my pieces. All the goals I set out have been accomplished, and I would recommend this internship to anyone as it helped me become a stronger journalist more solidly connected to the craft.
Nickolas Steinig
Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 News Intern
Hi, My name is Joshua Epstein. I'm a third year at The New College of Florida. Despite taking 13 classes over the course of the 2022-2023 school year, the experience that's had the biggest impact on me has been interning with WSLR's news team. My professors are awesome but they could never provide me with the real-world journalism experience that interning at WSLR has given me. I've gotten to ask elected officials the tough questions; holding their feet to the fire every step of the way; report on the issues that actually matter to Sarasota and Manatee residents, and ensure that no one hurts folks in Sarasota or Manatee without having to answer for it. WSLR's internship program, in my opinion, strikes the perfect balance between training and reporting. I've had the opportunity to learn sound gathering techniques, the editorial process involved in packaging stories and interviews, and basic audio editing. All the while researching potential stories, arranging and conducting interviews, and writing and producing stories for our newscasts. I never thought I'd say these words but: "maybe I'll be a journalist."
Joshua Epstein
Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 News Intern
Interning at WSLR has been one of the best opportunities of my college career. It doesn't get better than community radio; the team at WSLR is so hard working and cares so deeply about giving Sarasota a voice, a voice by and for the Sarasota community. At every turn there's been someone to help me through my experience as an interning reporter, and these guys are real pros! It's my last semester at New College, so this semester is all I got with WSLR, but I truly wish I'd known about the opportunity sooner. WSLR rocks!
Florence Fahringer
Spring 2023 News Intern
Spending my final semester in Sarasota as the Communications Intern at WSLR+Fogartyville has been one of the most enlightening and enjoyable experiences I have had during my time at New College. I have been able to witness and participate in the true behind-the-scenes efforts of a community radio station and event venue, all while interacting with some of the kindest and most understanding people I have ever met. WSLR+Fogartyville truly reflects the values of community at its core, and having the opportunity to assist in its mission has been invaluable to me as I prepare to continue my career outside of undergraduate school. I began this internship with very little knowledge of the methods involved in writing for marketing and social media, as well as the true grassroots efforts required to keep the station and venue functioning smoothly. Now, seven months later, I feel confident in my professional writing abilities, my understanding of the Sarasota community, and my ability to contribute to non-profit organizations in a rewarding manner. Thanks to WSLR+Fogartyville, I have been able to immerse myself in more of the local community than during my first three years in Sarasota. Dave, Arlene, Jesse, and Kathleen have been incredibly supportive of my academic efforts as I finished up my thesis at New College, all while teaching me skills in a professional setting that I would not have learned in a strictly academic environment. I am incredibly grateful to have had the many opportunities afforded to me by the amazing management and volunteers that make up WSLR+Fogartyville. Thank you all!
Jude Zelznak
Spring 2023 Communications Intern
I am a third year Philosophy and writing student in the New College of Florida. I applied for and internship/part time job in WSLR community radio in Sarasota in the beginning of fall 2021 and after an interview I was selected for the program. English is not my first language, and I knew I would be delivering the news with a Persian accent, but it was not a concern for WSLR community because they are the voice of diversity and I found out WSLR was very diverse and open-minded community. I learned several skills during my internship -apart from the studying and theory material I was provided with to study along with my practice- I was highly engaged with the community and what was going on whether statewide and local. I was encouraged to go out and do field interviews during community events and convert it to an audio story, with rhetorical approach to engage audience. I kept practicing writing the news pieces short, straightforward, clear, and thorough. Meanwhile, I practiced working with social media platforms, working in parallel with the radio station keeping different audience informed regarding the local news and events, encouraging them to participate in community. By the end of my internship, I produced a whole show by myself. I used the skills I had learned in my internship and could employ them to create a half an hour show. WSLR was the best place for me to gain hands-on job experience in broadcast and digital journalism.
Yasi Bahmanabadi
Fall 2021 News Intern
I have greatly benefitted from my position on the communications team at WSLR 96.5 and Fogartyville. I've achieved professional experience related to website design, radio scheduling and programming, FCC guidelines and regulations for radio broadcasting, and so much more. My professional writing experience in this job has been outstanding and definitely prepared me for future positions and projects in similar areas. I love working with the WSLR team, volunteers and employees alike, and the community exposure this position has given me has encouraged me to remain in Sarasota after I graduate.
Lee Collings
Fall 2021 Communications Intern
Before WSLR, I often felt there was little I could do as a young person to help my community and make an impact. I was diagnosed with mixed dyslexia and other learning disabilities when I was sixteen and shortly after I started volunteering at WSLR. My disabilities make word fluency and reading aloud difficult, so I was incredibly nervous when I found out I would be recording news stories to be put on air. Despite my initial anxieties, WSLR gave me a place to create content with my disabilities in mind, from my own perspective. My confidence in myself and my abilities has grown dramatically since I began volunteering in 2020. With the support from the WSLR team, I have gained real world experience, as well as a platform to grow and learn about broadcast media while still feeling connected to my local community.
Allison Housh
Fall 2021 High School News Team Volunteer
Being a part of the news team at WSLR has helped improve my time management, scheduling and overall ability to communicate information. It is an extremely understanding and kind group, and I have greatly enjoyed learning how to read, summarize and share news with our community!
Ivy Autman
Fall 2021 High School News Team Volunteer
I am very grateful to be a part of the WSLR News team because the environment has fostered a sense of confidence within me in being able to articulate my thoughts to any audience, regardless of the demographic. Moreover, I am happy with how the position has caused me to increase my civic engagement within my community because I like being aware of how to aid others in their endeavors. Plus, this position has caused me to think of pursuing a career in journalism or annexing it to my plans, which is something I did not consider prior to working with WSLR News.
Bernadette Nwokeji
Spring 2022 High School News Team Volunteer
Working at WSLR has been a great learning experience for me. As an aspiring journalist there is no better place to learn the intricacies of news writing and production. Working with a small team may be challenging at times, but it has taught me important teamwork and time management skills. Covering local politics and activism for our news show has put me in contact with wonderful leaders that are committed to bettering the lives of those in their community. This is an inspiring gift that comes with working at WSLR News.
Omar Guerrero
Former Part-time Reporter & Producer /Spring 2022 News Intern
I found my time as an intern at WSLR to be incredibly rewarding while also maintaining a healthy degree of challenge. It did seem relatively fast-paced at first, but the news team is well equipped with knowledgeable members and resources that aided me in my start to the position. I was honored and excited by the opportunities this internship awarded to me. During my first week I got to interview two prominent candidates for government, which was nerve-wracking but also served as an exciting moment that solidified my sense of progression as to my professional endeavors. By the second or third week, I felt as if I had a handle on the expectations of the position, as well as a solid working schedule that was effective on top of my class work and other campus responsibilities. This work also felt incredibly personally rewarding. It wasn’t the type of internship where I was making coffee runs or filing papers, I found myself in a central position of dispelling information and engaging in democracy. The local connections I have established through this internship have awarded me with future opportunities for community engagement, which is something I have constantly striven for in my own personal political expression but especially since arriving at New College. I have gained an immense sense of gratitude for Arlene, Becca, Dave, Stan, Annie, Omar, and Basil as they all served as effective collaborators and powerful mentors that reaffirmed my comfort and confidence throughout the course of the internship. I also found Dr. Hernandez to be a very wise and effective facilitator of this internship, which was no surprise as I have been fortunate to experience their powerful leadership over the course of this academic year.
Rhiannon Hanlon
2022 Spring News Intern
Working at WSLR ended up being much more engaging than what I anticipated, and alongside the development of my skills I also saw personal development in myself. Every week I was excited to work on a new story and to delve into a new local issue. Interacting with the local community was a great experience given the somewhat sheltered experience one could have in normal college life. The team at WSLR is wonderful and very attentive, and it made me feel part of a tight group; I really enjoyed meeting weekly and sharing feedback on the shows. All in all, it has been an unforgettable and invaluable experience and I hope to continue working at WSLR in the future
Omar Guerrero
Fall 2020 News Intern
I feel very fortunate that I was able to have an internship here at WSLR. It’s taught me a lot about how technical writing is actually applied in the real world, and more specifically in a real non-profit organization. Over my time here, I have gotten to write dozens of memos, PSAs, emails, and social media posts, allowing me to hone my writing skills. I’ve also been given the opportunity to record and edit video, which was a nice bonus to the writing work. After having worked here for the past semester, I feel much better prepared for my future career in technical writing. Beyond the skills that I’ve gained, my time working at the station was a wonderful experience.
Calvin Wren
Fall 2020 Communications Intern
After COVID-19 delayed my post-graduation plan—teaching English in Belgium on a Fulbright Scholarship—I was fortunate to be hired as a Community News Reporter for WSLR. I quickly fell in love with the position, largely because the work I was doing felt both personally and professionally fulfilling. As the pandemic worsened across the state, I was able to hear and share stories from the community. By speaking with a variety of locals, including small business owners, public health officials, politicians and COVID-19 survivors, I’ve connected with the Sarasota community on a much deeper level than I did when I was a student. I remember when one community member thanked me profusely at the end of an interview for getting her COVID story out there, as she had been ignored and mistreated by doctors who thought she was “mimicking what she saw on TV.” Conversations like that made my work feel especially important and, because of WSLR, I was able to find, pursue and share that story. WSLR solidified my love for journalism, but also allowed me to explore a new medium: radio. Through my work and thoughtful conversations with coworkers, I developed skills in audio editing, natural-sounding storytelling and, ultimately, radio news production. I’ve always been a fan of public radio, but being behind the scenes has inspired me to continue pursuing opportunities in radio news. Professionally, this position has expanded my reach as a journalist. My stories have been picked up by Pacifica-affiliated programs, such as COVID, Race and Democracy, and radio stations across the country. I’ve interviewed high-profile political representatives, such as Margaret Good, Michele Rayner and, most recently, Amy Klobuchar. As a budding journalist fresh out of college, I deeply value the learning opportunities WSLR has provided me. Good storytelling is powerful. Especially now, as COVID-19 misinformation infects our community, politicized attacks undermine trust in independent media and social unrest highlights injustice within our country. I’m incredibly grateful that WSLR gave me the opportunity to connect with the community and share its stories.
Jacob Wentz
Fall 2020 Covid Community Reporter
Working with the WSLR community was an experience of a lifetime. It firstly changed how I looked at media, but most importantly it helped me find a sense of confidence in doing work as a student journalist and finding my creative outlet. Going out into the community, doing fieldwork, and maneuvering to do remote work to capture the voice of Sarasota was an impactful experience as I was listening to stories I have never really listened to before. I felt supported by WSLR every step of the way, and I am thankful for the guidance in learning about how to create news stories to learn about how to produce shows. For me, it was more about opening a new door to opportunities I never knew I could experience, and it allowed me to put myself out there. It also helped that I was new to Sarasota, so getting to engage with the community allowed me to become more interested in a new environment, which helped introduce me to some of the beautiful spaces here.
Danielle Campbell
Fall 2020 NCF Mellon Intern