This Wednesday I was able to sit down with Patrick Kelly, an ISU senior, majoring in Music Business, to talk for over an hour. I was incredibly interested to hear about his summer, because while I was working at the local mall, Pat was interning with the Chicago radio station XRT. Pat’s perks included catching free shows and attending festivals like Lollapalooza, Pitchfork and Taste of Chicago. Pat talks about his experience improving communication skills, finding new connections and some of the things he learned this summer.
Christine: So you worked with promotions and programming?
Patrick: Mainly promotions. I was more interested in programming, but I was mostly given tasks with promotions.
How many interns were there?
Around 17 or 18.
Were they cool? Did you work with them? Or all do your own tasks?
Yeah! We had a weekly intern meeting, so every Thursday for two hours we would talk about upcoming events that weekend, and what the procedures were for that. But then each event we worked there would usually be three or four of us scheduled. It always varied. I pretty much worked with every intern though.
Did you get to do much techie stuff?
No, sound-wise I didn’t really do much. I did get to sit in on one of the DJ’s shows, Jason Thomas. He was pretty awesome. I sat in on an hour of his show and watched how he worked everything.
That sounds nuts! Were you right behind his shoulder? Was he irritated?
I was right next to him, yeah. No! He was really cool! You would think so, but the place was great and everyone was really chill. You could ask anyone questions, and they were willing and wanted to help.
So it wasn’t intimidating or scary?
No. But he had me pick a song, it was like a simple task of pushing a few buttons, but it made me nervous. Because it was going live. He was like, “Alright, when the song ends, you have to hit this button and switch to hit this one.” I picked “Learning to Fly” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
How much were you there during a week?
They said it would average to fifteen hours a week. You had one “office day” a week, where you’d actually be at the XRT office, and that was a 9 a.m.-5p.m. I was mostly promotional stuff and website stuff. We were all split up on days, and I got Tuesdays. Apart from that, it was mainly working events. That was the biggest chunk, events. You would sign up for five events a month, but you would often get more than that with XRT shows and street festivals.
Did you work the Taste of Chicago then?
We did Taste of Chicago, yeah. There was the XRT VIP section that I worked. That was for the Robert Plant show.
What were your duties then when you worked something like the VIP tent?
The VIP tent was kind of a special circumstance. That one I literally was the beverage person, so I would hand out drinks. One of our sponsors was this company, R.W. Knutson, and they do spritzer drinks, carbonated drinks. We handed those out.
It was the VIP section though, so it was around 200 people and they were all affiliated with XRT somehow. So either sales or special clients. That was kind of an abnormal occurrence though. Usually we’re on more street festivals with the XRT tents.
Usually we would be out with people, and at the festivals we would have one or two contests we were running. One of the popular ones at the beginning of the summer was we were always giving away Lollapalooza tickets.
Did you meet anyone you look up to, or admire?
Well, pretty much the D.J.s.
And the other interns right?
[laughs] The other interns, yeah. They were awesome, but I didn’t know many of them before, except for Jim Ritter who goes here.
Oh really? Another kid from here interned with you?
Yeah, he works at WZND. But yeah, I would say the DJs were a big one. Jason Thomas, who I ended up shadowing, was one of my favorites just to listen to. So actually meeting him was really cool. All the DJs were really nice too, like Terri Hemmert, she’s a legendary one.
Wow! So you met Terri. Did you actually get to sit and talk with her?
She would just come stop on in. She would come sit down while we were working and just talk for 45 minutes, telling us stories and stuff. She took me and another intern out to dinner one time, to the Hofbrauhaus in Rosemont.
How awesome! She took you out to dinner? Who else did she pick?
Ha, no, it wasn’t like we were her favorites. [laughs] We were doing these events in Rosemont every Thursday called “Rockin’ in the Park.” We would do an appearance there, and have our tent up. So a few times throughout the summer, the DJs from XRT would come emcee the event. Terri did it one night when I happened to be working. So the manager at the Hofbrauhaus was a huge fan of her, and was like, “When you’re here, dinner’s on me and bring whoever you want.” So she took the interns.
So it was just you and another kid?
It was just me, another intern and Terri. We talked for like four hours.
What did Terri order?
[laughs] I don’t know, some bratwurst or something? German food. We shared a giant pretzel. She ordered us cheesecake and vanilla bean ice cream.
Did she give you any life advice? Or did you tell her what you hope to do in the future?
A bit. Yeah, a bit. I would tell her performing is still important to me, but I want to get into the recording stuff, too. Sound technology, stuff like that. It seemed like the main advice, well Lin Brehmer was another guy there who gave advice and said if you want a job in radio, the time to do it is when you’re in your 20s. When you don’t have a family or all the responsibilities of “adult-adult life.”