Allison Skillman was looking for an opportunity to work with words beside just teaching them. So, the junior education-turned-English major was excited to find a Field Period placement this January writing local news snippets for listeners tuned in to the noon and 5 p.m. news broadcasts on a sprawling regional radio network
Skillman, an East Rochester resident, spent most of her internship writing short news stories, generally no longer than a paragraph, which would take a D.J. or news anchor approximately 20-30 seconds to read aloud. Pithy, local stories might follow regional or statewide pieces in order to appeal to a majority of the listening audience, tuning in to 68 different frequencies of the Family Life Network (FLN), which broadcasts across northern and central Pennsylvania, as well as upstate and Western New York and the Southern Tier.
Headquartered in Bath, N.Y., FLN, a Christian radio conglomerate, attracts a primary demographic that is “conservative, largely Republican, family people, not terribly politically active,” Skillman recounted. In contrast to most radio stations, where operating funds come from paid advertising, FLN is supported by donations from listeners. Its broadcasts reach Buffalo and Rochester, outside Syracuse and east of Oneonta, across the Southern Tier from Jamestown to past Binghamton, then south into Erie, Altoona, Allentown and Scranton, Pa. The noon news report runs for 30 minutes, the 5 o’clock segment for 15 and shorter news updates of about three minutes run seven times in three hours each weekday morning.
“It’s a big news station, but tries to focus on local [news] and make it personal for listeners,” Skillman said. “I didn’t do so much of the big headlines, but more local and issues-driven stories.
For example, one story she wrote, about a Howard man building a house out of straw, garnered interest from listeners.