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Gzowski intern hits the ground running

By Janet Harron | June 7, 2012

Julie Skinner started working at the CBC just over two weeks ago, but she is already a regular contributor to the St. John’s Morning Show.

“I just love the dynamic,” said the winner of the 2012 CBC Radio Peter Gzowski Internship, who has covered a number of recent stories, including the NAPE protest against cuts to Eastern Health, as part of the summer-long internship. “So much goes on behind the scenes before anything goes on air – chasing stories, pre-interviews – I’m really enjoying that production side of things.”

The collaboration between radio and television at the St. John’s station was a revelation for the Mount Pearl native, who was paired with journalist Zach Goudie to watch him on the job.

“He does his own legwork, writes his own script, films the story and edits his own footage. I believe that St. John’s is unique in that way – the more hard skills you bring and the more work you can put in – they really value that.” 

Although Ms. Skinner had been a CBC fan for years (“I grew up listening to Crosstalk at lunch with my dad”), she left nothing to chance before her internship interview.

“Of course I knew that Peter Gzowski was synonymous with great radio but during the application process I read a biography of him and his own book The Morningside Years about his favourite interviews,” said Ms. Skinner, who graduated at last week’s convocation with a double major in English and communication studies.

She also discovered a number of similarities between herself and the late, great broadcaster. 

“We both got our start in print, we both worked on our school newspapers, he was a huge sports fan -- as am I -- and we both worked at members’ only clubs,” said Ms. Skinner, who impressed the judges with her knowledge of Mr. Gzowski’s background.

Coincidently, the CBC’s Shelagh Rogers, Mr. Gzowski’s colleague on Morningside, was the honorary degree recipient during the Tuesday, May 29, convocation ceremony. The connection wasn’t lost on the newly minted graduate: “It felt like she was there for me.”

Ms. Skinner spent a week in Toronto in early May with the three other Gzowski interns – from Trent, McGill and Simon Fraser universities – attending a bootcamp at the CBC headquarters under the wing of Nick Davis, manager of program development for CBC radio.

“We were catapulted into this building with the best of the best – producers, sound technicians, hosts. Everyone was unbelievably supportive and happy to share their own horror stories of when they started, ” said Ms. Skinner, who participated in story meetings, watched The Current being broadcast and attended a taping of Q where she chatted with musician Alan Doyle who was on the promotional circuit for his new album.

Despite the recent cuts to the CBC by the federal government, Ms. Skinner is definitely planning to make journalism her career.

“It’s definitely a bit of a concern, but when we were in Toronto, people at the CBC told us that journalism needs new people, fresh perspectives and new ways of doing things,” said the articulate Ms. Skinner, who cites CBC staff and Faculty of Arts alumni Tom Power and John Rieti -- a former Gzowski intern himself -- as inspirations.