Hanna Szabo is a third-year undergraduate student at Princeton University, pursuing a degree in Geosciences. During this COVID-19 summer, she’s the summer station manager at WPRB located in Princeton, NJ, the hub of central New Jersey. Hanna is also the host of Roll the Dice at WPRB.
What drew you to community media?
I was drawn to community media initially because I felt such an affinity to WPRB’s friendly air-sound compared to the commercial stations on the dial. Each host sounded real and the music choices were usually tracks I’d never heard before and that other stations didn’t have the guts to play.
Community radio has a reputation for personalities. What are three unique things about you that people might never guess?
Three unique things about me: I can develop analog film photographs, as well as print them! I can speak two languages: Hungarian and English. I had my first flight at age 1.5 months.
What has your experience been so far as a new manager at WPRB, when so many schools are challenged right now by COVID-19?
Starting as the summer manager during the pandemic has been challenging. Sometimes I forget the scope of the tasks I deal with regularly (mainly making sure we keep going despite the virus, albeit remotely), tasks that I’d rarely consider in a normal summer. The future of campus life and schooling is still unknown, in New Jersey, in the country, and all over the world. It’s proven difficult to plan for new student recruitment, something we rely on heavily at our undergraduate-led station. All in all, we’re operating the best we could, given the circumstances.
What about your community makes the station such a good fit?
In the most densely populated state in the country, WPRB has found its way into our listeners’ lives by continuously championing alternative programming and sticking power. We’re celebrating our 80th anniversary this year!
Has anything about WPRB surprised you so far?
When I first visited the offices of WPRB I was absolutely in awe at how many varied posters, letters, stickers, graffiti, album covers had been pasted to the walls by previous students of the station. Even now there is always something new that catches my eye that I could’ve sworn wasn’t there before. It’s definitely a visual onslaught, but after spending enough time there, every other ‘interior decoration’ choice feels minimal and bare.
What’s a station idea you have come up with that you are most proud of?
It may sound simple, but the venture I’m most proud of at the station was organizing weekly gatherings of the undergraduates at the station to boost group morale and to have some fun! It vanished as the pandemic hit, but it was my first big undertaking as the Program Director (my other job when I’m not managing the station during the summer).
What material are you most like, and why?? (i.e. plastic, porcelain, dirt, silk, etc.)
The material I’m most like is unfired clay: I don’t like committing myself to a shape/mentality forever, and when I want to change I can just add water!
What advice would you give a person aspiring to become a station manager?
To a person aspiring to become a station manager, my advice is: learn your station’s history! Knowing where traditions come from and all of the wacky personalities that have graced our studios over the years has helped me enormously in leading my station and I’m sure it can help you too. Also, you’re not alone: your coworkers can help you, as long as you know to ask. Good luck!