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Ashley sitting at radio booth

Ashley Fraser

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication › Writing

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girl with headphones on in radio station
This was quite a switch, as the show is very fast paced and I was booking guests and writing scripts for the same day.

From a young age, I loved telling stories, making my own “Ashley Fraser show”, and creative projects. While studying communications at SFU I began to realise that journalism might be my future career path and the CBC Peter Gzwoski internship opportunity was the the perfect way to get my feet wet in the world of journalism. Applying for internship, however, was no easy task. I spent a number of weeks putting my application together to make it perfect, but I think this experience showed me how invested I was in the internship.

Once I heard that I received this position, I couldn’t wait to get started. This co-op is unlike any other and I was ready to dive right into work. I spent my first week in Toronto for a radio skills course at CBC Toronto. While I was there, I met the three other Gzowski interns who had been selected from around Canada. It was a grueling week learning how to write scripts, chase guests and come up with ideas for stories for radio, but it was unique one-on-one training which would remain invaluable throughout my internship experience.

Ashley in front of CBC building

When I returned to Vancouver I worked on the program BC Almanac. This radio program runs from 12-1 on CBC Radio 1. I worked with some talented producers and wonderful hosts including, Gloria Macarenko.  A few weeks later, I was assigned to work on the afternoon radio program, On the Coast, with host Stephen Quinn. This was quite a switch, as the show is very fast paced and I was booking guests and writing scripts for the same day. I gained so much knowledge from working with many Associate Producers and Producers on the show about how to write the perfect script, which is certainly no easy feat. It became a daily challenge to understand new ways to pitch current affairs topics.

Ashley sitting in radio station

One of my favourite “pitches” was a new take on “World Environment Day”. I remembered that I had seen a Facebook post about my high school who had unveiled a 23-metre mural of the Blaauw Eco Forest a few weeks earlier as a reminder to protect the environment.  After mentioning this to my producer, I was then quickly on the phone with my former photography teacher and two student leads were able to speak about the project live on air for World Environment Day – a web story was also created. This was one of many moments that were extremely rewarding and while the program was fast paced with tight deadlines, it was certainly the best way to learn.

I also had the opportunity to make a few sound mixes that were played on air. This included doing some research about restaurant tipping culture in Vancouver and creating a “talk tape”. For this particular segment, I was on air with the host presenting the research I had collected and creating a reporter style radio segment. It was a dream for me to speak on the radio! I also had the opportunity to go out into the field and conduct a few interviews including interviewing museum curators at the Museum of Vancouver and interviewing a legendary Rock and Roll photographer, Bob Gruen about his exhibition and work in Vancouver. I also had a few other fun moments interview a chef and forager about berry picking and speaking with the general public about various news topics for the day. I loved editing and cutting these pieces into radio segments. Here are a few that were made into web stories:

As my internship was coming to an end at CBC Vancouver, I had to prepare for my last week in Toronto where I had to create a podcast with the three other Gzowski interns. We had worked on coming up with ideas all summer and we had each collected an interview for the podcast in our own provinces to be edited when we arrived in Toronto. We combined a few ideas to create a podcast called “Beyond the Labels”.

Ashley with her co-workers

The idea was based on our observation of how society assigns labels to everyone we meet every day, and sometimes we don’t even realize we are doing it. We wanted to showcase four stories about various individuals who defy their labels and any assumptions that we make in society. I was exploring the label of millennial. I interviewed an SFU student and co-founder of Frontrvnners Streetwear in fact, about his relationship with the label and how his work defies the assumptions that can come with this generation.

When we returned at the end of August to complete the podcast, we each cut our interviews into 3-6 minute pieces creating a sound and feel for each interview. We assigned ourselves roles, including, producer, editor, sound mixer and host/writer. I was able to take on the role as host and writer. It was an amazing experience to sit in the CBC Toronto studios and record the narration for our podcast. Here is the final product, and you can listen to by downloading the podcast here: http://www.cbc.ca/gzowskiinternships/interns/index.html  (note: you must right click on the download link)

Previous to receiving this internship, I tried to gain more journalism experience throughout my degree, this included utilizing the applied media studies courses that the communication department offers at SFU, taking advantage of my exchange abroad and volunteering for a radio society, and also writing for SFU’s independent newspaper The Peak!

 Here are some tips if you want to get into the world of journalism:

  1. READ READ READ! Educate yourself on all things news and current affairs. Find your favourite authors, newspapers, or columnists and ask yourself, why do I like this?
  2. LISTEN! Download podcasts for your morning commute and listen to the radio, and again critique why you liked a particular interview or podcast.

  3. INQUIRE, I have found so many great stories from chatting with friends to reading about some strange topic I’ve found online. If you care about a particular story, it is likely someone else will.

  4. WRITE, it goes without saying, but your writing and editing skills are something that can make or break you in the world of journalism so it’s best to be always improving and asking for feedback.

  5. GET INSPIRED. I sound cheesy at this point, but look for new ways of presenting stories. I am always observing new ways to present news in a “non-click-bait” but “still I want to read about this” way. Having those ideas really set you apart from others. 

Beyond the Blog

  • To learn more about opportunities like Ashley's, visit the Co-op homepage. 

About the Author

Ashley sitting at radio booth

Ashley Fraser

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication › Writing
If you would like to find out more information about Ashley’s CBC experience, or any other journalism work, feel free to check out her website or reach her on Twitter: @ashleymfraser, Instagram: @_ashleyfraser  or Ashley's LinkedIn

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