Students in the Salt Lake Community College communication program will likely be required at some point to take Radio Performance and Production, aka COMM 1560.
Although required is such an ugly word and implies a sense of unwillingness, Scot Singpiel’s radio class is certainly an enjoyable experience. His students toured two of Salt Lake City’s most well-known studios this semester and learned just how much the modern media collaborates between disciplines in order to remain competitive in the industry.
In a plain office park underneath a freeway in South Salt Lake, students met at the Salt Lake City branch of Cumulus Media in February.
The second largest broadcasting company in the nation, Cumulus owns local stations such as K-Bull 93, KBER 101 and 94.9 The Vibe. Cumulus also hosts many other stations in its building, demonstrating to students that radio, as a medium, offers something for every personality type.
Singpiel’s students then had a much more exclusive opportunity to tour Bonneville International in early March. Bonneville owns KSL, one of Salt Lake’s perennially popular radio and television stations.
Bonneville features an integrated workspace that reflects the modern mass media industry, with a high-tech newsroom dredging through multiple print and video sources to find stories to broadcast.
Some areas were adorned with inspirational quotes painted on the walls, while other hallway walls were covered with the many awards the company has earned over its 50-year history.
In a radio studio down the hall from the newsrooms, the class stopped for a short spontaneous presentation from one of the hosts, who was describing his daily job duties when one of the students pointed out a piece of equipment laying on the desk.
The device was called a VoxPro, a small and seemingly innocuous audio mixing device typically used to mix phone calls on-air that can run upwards of $2,500. However, what intrigued the students was that this piece of expensive, professional-grade equipment can also be found in SLCC’s own radio studio at the South City Campus.
During the tour of Cumulus and Bonneville, students took note that much of the equipment and facilities they used on campus was equal to or better in quality than the items that professionals use every day. One student stated that even the chairs at SLCC are nicer.
But the equipment at SLCC isn’t the only thing that is professional-grade. Instructor Scot Singpiel also has a long employment history in the local and regional industry.
Singpiel describes the radio industry as tight-knit, and says that “you’ll work with a lot of the same people, and then they’ll go work for another company, or they’ll go work across the street.”
During the Bonneville tour, one of Singpiel’s former colleagues jokingly asked him when he’d be coming back. Singpiel tells the Globe that he was “probably not” going back and adds that he genuinely enjoys the educational experience.
He also compares teaching as a profession to radio and mass communication in general; he is required to learn a piece of information and then relay that to a second party in a clear, concise and effective manner.
Radio Performance and Production offers students exactly what SLCC had in mind when the Center for Arts and Media was envisioned: professional staff and equipment in an educational environment to give students real experiences to aid in their growth.
COMM 1560 is open to any SLCC student. Students can sign up for the course when fall registration begins in April.