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John Murray: Incoming News Director for the 2018-2019 School Year

John Murray: Incoming News Director for the 2018-2019 School Year


As the incoming News Director of WZND, I would like to take some time to introduce myself.

I grew up in the northern suburb of Woodridge, Illinois. Before coming to Illinois State University, I went to Montini Catholic High School in Lombard, Illinois. I have dabbled in many different hobbies and interests throughout my childhood – including playing the drums, baseball, floor hockey, and occasionally napping. Coming into my freshman year, I declared journalism as my major because I knew that writing and broadcasting were things I had always been interested in. I am 19 years old and I am very eager, excited, and humbled to be the next News Director for WZND.

This past fall – just a few weeks after beginning my freshman year at ISU, I joined the WZND News and Sports staff. After my first day, I could immediately tell that WZND was a very special place filled with incredible talent and even better people, who all work together as one big dysfunctionally functional family.

Six months later, before I knew it – I was screening to become the next News Director and was fortunate enough to be selected as successor to my mentor, coach, and friend, Blake Haas. Blake has done an outstanding job both personally and as a director throughout his tenure here WZND. He has transcended the entire News Department and its place within the station, and has played a vital role in WZND’s overall success this past year, as well.

Ever since I was hired as a director, I have inevitably had to tell everybody at some point or another my age. The reactions I have gotten have ranged from gasping and shock to laughing and disbelief. It has arguably been harder for me to convince people that I’m actually only 19, than it was to convince management council to hire me. Being that young working with people who are predominantly over 21, it has been an amusing adventure to field everybody’s questions regarding my age. With that in mind, I thought I’d take this opportunity to answer some of those frequently asked questions, dispel some myths, and get everything out of the way right now:

  1. No, I was not born in the year 2000. I was born in 1998.
  2. No, I do not live in an off-campus apartment, because freshmen are not allowed to.
  3. No, I do not order off of kid’s menus at restaurants anymore. I haven’t ordered from a kid’s menu since I went to Applebee’s in 2006.
  4. No, I am not addicted to social media. I promise.
  5. No, I do not remember dial-up internet. Although I have been taught about it since joining WZND.
  6. Yes, I did play with actual toys and stuffed animals growing up. I didn’t get my first phone until I was 10.
  7. Yes, I do read real paper-back books.
  8. Yes, I know what an answering machine is.
  9. Yes, I do know what a phone book is (although I cannot say that I own one).
  10. Yes, I have heard music that was released in the 20th century.
  11. Yes, I do make real phone calls. And yes, I do know what a voicemail is.
  12. Yes, I know how a fax machine works.

Over the past year, the WZND Newsroom, and WZND as a whole, has had one of the most successful years ever in its 37-year history. The News and Sports department has won 35 awards, including the most Outstanding Hard Radio Program in the state for the Birds-I-View investigative show. But our proudest achievement has been winning the 2018 BEA Signature Station Award. In other words – being named the ‘best college radio station in the entire country.’

With all this being said, I never would have become director without the helpful support, encouragement, and teaching from so many other people who have since become my good friends. I would like to especially thank Blake Haas, Ashley Antonini, Andy Olson, Neil Doyle, Adam Evans, Steve Suess, Deb Lesser, and the WZND Management Council for not only believing in me, but also for then training me and teaching me all that they have in this short amount of time so far. I feel that I could not possibly be any more prepared to take over, and that is thanks to all of their help, knowledge, talent, and unwavering patience.

With Blake moving on to Graduate School, there is no doubt that I have ginormous shoes to fill, and a very high standard to keep. However, thanks to the outstanding leadership by him, Andy and Ashley, I feel extremely lucky and grateful to be inheriting the News Department in such a great spot.

It is an honor to be given this amazing opportunity, and I look forward to beginning my tenure as News Director this coming fall. I see such a bright future ahead of WZND. Honestly, it cannot get much better than being named the best college radio station in the nation. The only way it can get any better, is if we win it again. So with that, I must get back to writing news!

Thank you,

John Murray

John Murray

May 7th, 2018

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