BY JILLIAN RAFALSKI
An Indiana University student and Bloomington local that has put her mark on public media and music journalism.
Kenlynn Albright is a sophomore at Indiana University, studying Marketing and Media and Diversity. Currently, she plans to use her education to pursue public media and music journalism. Kenlynn got her love for music, growing up in the arts-rich community of Bloomington. She credits her interests in public media to living in a cable-free household and experiencing the benefits of public access. Radio has been a big part of Kenlynn’s life, hosting radio shows since she was a sophomore in high school at WFHB community radio’s youth radio program. Soon after, she was gaining experience at Bloomington’s NPR and PBS station, WFIU/WTIU, during an internship her senior year of high school. Falling in love with the platform and making life-long connections, Kenlynn excelled at WFIU/WTIU and was offered a job at the station in the summer of 2016, and has been working there ever since. Kenlynn continued with radio at Indiana University, joining WIUX Student Radio.
How did you find yourself at IU?
“I grew up in Bloomington. I never thought I would come to IU because I thought I’d want to go somewhere new, but senior year came around and I had built up all of these relationships with people in the community, with community leaders and businesses that I really cared about. I really didn’t want to lose those connections. Also, senior year [of high school] I had an internship in the NPR and PBS station here in town, WFIU/WTIU and they offered me a job for that summer. That was a major incentive for me to stay because I found such a great support system there. I also knew I wanted to study marketing and Kelley [Business School] was a great opportunity do that.”
What makes you stay inspired with radio, even when the field faces backlash of being a dying industry?
“I’ve thought a lot about the industry and how it’s going to change…like with podcasts becoming more popular and people wanting more instant content and feedback…I think it’s just really important to be adaptable within the field and it’s also important to think about your audience, how to maintain your audience, and how to be innovative with how you approach it. Thinking about radio in a different way is going to be critical moving forward.”
Tell me more about your WIUX involvement on campus:
“Since freshman year, I’ve hosted a show called ‘Free Range’ on WIUX 99.1. I had been hosting radio shows all through high school, so I kind of went through a rebranding phase. I asked myself, ‘What do I really want this to look like?’ because before, it was all over the place and my focus was on testing out my voice and becoming comfortable on-air. The primary focus of ‘Free Range’ is investigating the creative process of artists and looking at sampling, covering, and the interaction of artists…I started out looking at a lot of soul music and how it influenced contemporary music. Now, I think it’s changed a little bit as I explore and challenge the idea of genre.”
Favorite show of ‘Free Range’?
“The first show I did about sampling was really cool for me. I connected each song to the next song like a chain. I tend to really like those shows because it takes pieces of songs people know, and traces them back to their origins, which is a concept that I love. I also did a prom theme show where I used the concept ‘If prom would have been what we expected it to be.’ All the shows that are about nostalgia and reminiscing are really special to me because how impactful music has been in my life. I did a radio piece about how college makes you reflect on the music that you listen to and I interviewed some people in my freshman dorm about music that reminded them of home. I was really proud of that.”
Why journalism, specifically why public media and music journalism?
On public media: “Public media has played a really big role in my life. I grew up without cable, so most of what I was consuming was coming from public media sources and I think in my life right now, I’m realizing that public media brings access to a lot of people, which is really important. It supports this whole idea of lifelong learning which is something I value.
On music: “Growing up in Bloomington, you are exposed to a diverse range of music. I can remember going to Lotus World Music Festival when I was in 5th grade with my grandparents…having a lot of early music experiences, and growing up with music in the house has changed the way I navigate through life… For me, music is very closely associated with feelings and emotions. I have a lot of interest in exploring people’s relationships with music…For example, When I think about Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ or Peter Frampton, I think about sitting in the car with my grandpa, playing air guitar. It’s the little things that remind you of your past. In my life, music has also been something that makes you feel less alone and gives you something to relate to. For me, that means Frank Ocean’s Nostalgia Ultra album…[Music] where in times you feel alone, makes you feel like what you are feeling is normal. Music has meant so much to me in my life and has helped form who I have become, so sometimes I feel like it’s my duty to somehow give that back to other people.”
What challenges have you faced being a woman, more even a woman of color, in your field of work?
“Being a woman of color on a college campus, I have been, more recently, exposed to people who don’t have the same values as me or don’t understand my personal experiences. Learning about how other people perceive me has been eye-opening and has made me think about the field, where it’s headed, and how I am going to navigate that…there is a lot of [conflict] that is just so ingrained in our culture and more recently, it’s becoming really eye-opening to me, especially in my interactions with peers and my coursework.”
Tell me more about your experience in the Kelley School of Business.
“I chose Kelley because I was interested in a marketing degree. I saw it as an opportunity to get more involved in market research and the psychology behind consumer behavior, but I also saw it as an opportunity to have creative freedom in my work. More recently, I added a Media school minor in media and diversity because I like how those two complement each other and I like that I’ll be able to intertwine the two. In my courses, I’ve learned to embrace the things that make me different than the other students. It’s been interesting to go into classes with different views and experiences than some of my peers. I think diversity of opinion is important in a classroom setting. It gives my peers an opportunity to learn and myself an opportunity to learn as well.”
What keeps pushing you forward despite these challenges that you've faced?
“I’ve been really lucky to be surrounded by women who are leaders like my mom who raised me, my grandma, my boss, and a lot of mentors who I’ve found in my life. I feel like being around so many people that are very strong and are leaders in their fields, has allowed me to grow up with those values. I’ve learned from my mom…that if you want something, you go after it…I also tend to be very competitive with myself…I challenge myself to continue creating and thinking in different ways. More than anything I think I push myself forward because I have a vision of who I want to be. A couple of years ago, it was really hard for me to feel comfortable putting my stuff out there because I put a lot of pressure on myself to please others. I was focusing more on pleasing other people, than putting out content I was proud of. Overcoming that has allowed me to continue to grow instead of holding myself back.”
What is your greatest success?
“I think overcoming becoming obsessed with pleasing other people...learning that it’s not possible to make everybody happy and to produce something that everyone is going to like. Also, learning that if everyone likes it, then it’s probably not something new.”
What is your greatest failure?
“I am a planner, which is kind of rough when you find yourself trying to plan every aspect of your life. There have been times where I have become too focused on the details and how I am going to get somewhere, when I really just need to be patient with myself and let things happen. I tend to fail when I try to micromanage things that are not within my control.”
Do you have any advice for high schoolers or freshman in college that are looking into public media and music journalism?
“Be patient with yourself, but also create as much as possible. For me it’s been cool to look back on recorded radio shows that I have from high school and to compare what I was doing then to what I do now. I think documenting the things that you are doing is really important.”
Keep up with Kenlynn and her experiences with public media and music journalism: