CULLOWHEE – Radio listeners across much of Western North Carolina hear it during the morning commute, and they hear it in the afternoon during the five o’clock pile-up: “Power Your Mind” at Western Carolina University. That is what students majoring in communication are doing—powering their minds and their futures.
Western is one of fewer than 10 colleges and universities nationally that offer communication students the opportunity to earn radio marketing professional certification through an exam prepared by the Radio Advertising Bureau, a national organization of radio advertising professionals with more than 5,000 member radio stations.
Previously, 63 students at Western have taken the exam and all 63 have passed. This fall, 21 students took the exam; all 21 passed, bringing the count to 84 students who have taken the exam and passed.
Students also are required to complete research and analysis needs for a local business client. The research and analysis are the basis for a 12-page bound proposal that the students must complete along with a sales presentation to the client, all of this on top of studying for a rigorous 100-question, hourlong exam.
“It’s a unique opportunity,” said Don Connelly, director of Western’s electronic media program. “Our students have the advantage of walking into stations and getting jobs with organizations such as FOX, NBC and Clear Channel due to the professional certification they receive at Western.”
Several recent Western graduates have been hired for radio and television sales jobs in Asheville, Charlotte and Atlanta as a result of the certification, which is a bit unusual, Connelly said. “Most people do not get hired into top major markets right out of school,” he said, “and our students have been able to do so.”
Among Western students who most recently passed the Radio Advertising Bureau exam:
BUNCOMBE—Kyle Eric McCurry of Weaverville, a 2003 graduate of North Buncombe High School.
CLEVELAND —Kristen Cara Boggs of Shelby, a 2002 graduate of Crest High School.
CUMBERLAND —Brandon Tigue of Hope Mills, a 2002 graduate of Southview High School.
DAVIE —Mary Katherine Chaffin of Mocksville, a 2002 graduate of Davie High School.
FORSYTH—Anne Elizabeth Leadford of Winston-Salem, a 2002 graduate of Mount Tabor High School; Christopher Lynn Edmonds of Winston-Salem, a 2002 graduate of North Forsyth High School; and Chad Leiser of Kernersville, a 2001 graduate of East Forsyth High School.
GASTON—Phillip Blackwelder of Stanley, a 2001 graduate of East Gaston High School; and Ricky Resharde Rainey of Gastonia, a 2001 graduate of Ashbrook High School.
HENDERSON —Ashly Goodwin of Hendersonville, a 2001 graduate of Lakewood Ranch High School in Bradenton, Fla.
IREDELL—Jessica Mary Bartley of Mooresville, a 2002 graduate of South Iredell High School.
JACKSON—Mark Leonard Junaluska of Cherokee, a 1982 graduate of Sylva-Webster High School and a 2003 graduate of Southwestern Community College.
MECKLENBURG—James Aurigemma of Charlotte, a 2001 graduate of Providence High School; and Lauren Theresa Bolton of Charlotte, a 2002 graduate of Charlotte Catholic School.
PITT—Joshua Franklin Laughter of Greenville, a 2001 graduate of North Henderson High School.
RUTHERFORD —Felicia McCombs of Forest City, a 2001 graduate of East Rutherford High School.
WAKE—Joseph Michael Whelan of Morrisville, a 2001 graduate of Cary High School.
WARREN —William Kyle Tharrington of Macon, a 2003 graduate of Warren County High School.
WILKES—James Alex Dillard of Wilkesboro, a 2003 graduate of Wilkes Central High School.
OUT-OF-STATE—Jennifer Carol Anderson, of Lilburn, Ga., a 2002 graduate of Parkview High School.
In addition to broadcasting/electronic media, Western also offers concentrations in print media, human communication, public relations, communication training and development and theatre arts. For more information, contact the department of communication, theatre and dance at (828) 227-7491, or visit www.wcu.edu/as/ctd (link no longer active).